Making this revelation recently at a public forum was Prof. Vincent Osunkalu, consultant haematologist and blood transfusionist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba.
He was a keynote speaker at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital 2022 World Blood Donor Day, where he delivered the theme of the three-day summit tagged: ‘Donating is an act of solidarity: Join the efforts and save lives.’
While lamenting the parlous state of the nation’s healthcare, Osunkalu said Nigeria was sadly one of the countries yet to comply with the World Health Organisation’s standard practice requiring one percent of its citizens to voluntarily donate blood for medicare and support.
According to him, “whereas Americans donate about seven pints of million types of blood yearly, in Nigeria, data gathering is a challenge. The National Blood Transfusion Act has just been approved. From available information, Nigerians could only generate about 500, 000 pints of blood in the last few years which represents a 3.3 per cent shortfall in the volume of blood collected from voluntary blood donors.”
Specifically, he said, “Of the 179 countries only 79 have become 100 percent compliant with the WHO standards in blood transfusion. Nigeria is not part of the countries that are compliant.
The WHO says that the target is that there should be 100 per cent voluntary blood donors. There is a need to eliminate some categories of donors that don’t fall into this space, especially commercial blood donors who come with a lot of risks,” he said, adding that “Donation of blood is an art of charity and it is best to rely on voluntary donors as against those who are mercantile. The greatest gift any individual can give to another is blood donation.”
Enumerating the importance of blood donation, Osunkalu said giving blood may lower your risk of suffering a heart attack, reduce your risk of developing cancer, better emotional balance, less risk of depression, reduction in harmful iron stored in the body, among other several physical benefits.
Echoing similar sentiments, Dr. Ann Abiola Ogine, Head of Department Haematology and Blood Transfusion at LUTH, said the act of blood donation is key to the maintenance of hospitals’ emergencies. She therefore stressed the need for better donor-education, especially to encourage categories of voluntary blood donors.
Speaking separately on the sidelines of the summit, the duo of Mubarak Ayoniyi and Okoli Mathew who are founders of BetaLife and one of the sponsors of the event justified the support for the worthy cause, stressing that it was their own way of giving back to the society. BetaLife which set up shop last year September, have onboarded five hospitals and five blood banks thus far.