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Health News of Wednesday, 15 June 2022


Ignore traditional belief, donate blood to save lives - surgeon urges Nigerians

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As Nigeria joins the global community to commemorate the 2022 World Blood Donor Day today, the Head, Orthopaedic and Traumatology Department, University of Calabar, Cross River State, Dr. Innocent Abang, has urged Nigerians to ignore traditional beliefs and donate blood voluntarily and regularly to save lives.

Dr. Abang says some people are afraid of donating blood because of their culture and belief system.

According to him, some Nigerians have the erroneous belief that donating blood could harm them.

The orthopaedic surgeon stated that blood donation is used purely for medical purposes and not for fetish purposes, stressing that blood donation saves lives.

World Blood Donor Day is celebrated around the world on 14 June every year to raise awareness about the need for safe blood and blood products to save lives.

The day is also an opportunity to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.

The 2022 World Blood Donor Day is themed: “Donating blood is an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives.”

The theme aims to draw attention to the roles that voluntary blood donations play in saving lives and enhancing solidarity within communities.

According to the World Health Organisation, blood transfusion saves lives and improves health, but many patients requiring transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood.

“Providing safe and adequate blood should be an integral part of every country’s national health care policy and infrastructure,” WHO says.

Recall that the National Coordinator, National Blood Transfusion Services, Dr. Joseph Amedu, had during last year’s commemoration, said out of about 500,000 blood units collected in Nigeria annually, only five percent are from voluntary donors.

“Nigeria has a blood need of approximately two million units based on a population of about 200 million.

“But just about half a million blood units are currently collected in Nigeria annually and only five percent are from voluntary blood donors.

“Blood transfusion is important. 95 percent of the blood sourced from paid commercial and family replacement donors is what we have in Nigeria,” Dr.Amedu had said.

Speaking further with PUNCH HealthWise in commemoration of the 2022 World Blood Donor Day, Abang, said if Nigerians donate blood regularly, blood would be available for patients during emergencies.

The orthopaedic surgeon said, ” “Actually, the traditional belief is a big problem to blood donation. In Nigeria, some people think that if they donate blood, they may use it for something diabolical. That is what is affecting blood donation.

“But we make them know that this blood they donate is not for ritual purposes but is kept in the blood bank and given to patients.

“I don’t expect people to even believe that their blood would be used for ritual purposes in the hospital. We don’t have any other function for blood other than to keep it and then give it to patients who deserve blood donation.

“So, it is not used for fetish processes but purely for those who require blood like those going for surgery. It is not used for traditional purposes and incantation. It is used purely for medical purposes.”

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, says donating just one unit of blood can save the lives of up to three patients.

In her message on Tuesday to commemorate the day, Dr. Moeti explained that the global community marks the day to focus on the gift of life from voluntary unpaid blood donors around the world.

“Donating just one unit of blood can save the lives of up to three patients. On this day, I urge African governments and political leaders to prioritise the provision of adequate human and financial resources to secure the future of national blood transfusion services,” she said.

Compared to other regions globally, she said that the African Region saw a disproportionate number of conditions requiring donor blood, impacting as many as seven million patients every year.

“Examples include haemorrhage associated with pregnancy and childbirth, severe anaemia due to malaria and malnutrition, bone marrow and inherited blood disorders, trauma and accidents, as well as man-made and natural disasters.

“A blood service that gives patients access to safe blood and blood products, in sufficient quantities, is a key component of an effective health system,’’ Moeti said.

Speaking further with our correspondent, Dr. Abang noted that people need to be reminded of the health benefits of blood donation.

“There are so many of them. Blood donation keeps you healthier. It stimulates the body to produce fresh blood. It increases oxygen capacity as you donate blood.

“You that is giving that blood could be a saviour to your nearest brother because, during emergencies, we are looking for blood. And at the blood bank, there is no blood and you start looking for a donor at that time which ought not to be.

“So, if people are donating regularly, we should have a full blood bank available for patients during emergencies,” he said.

According to NBTS, blood is life.

“Blood transfusions are critical for healthcare as they are instrumental to life-saving interventions in accidents, childbirth, various emergencies resulting from insurgencies, wars, herds-farmer clashes, routine surgeries, sickle cell disease, cancer and various anaemic medical conditions,” the NBTS said.