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Emergencies: Ministry of Health Proposes National Blood Service Commission

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…Babatunde Opalana 

To address the acute shortage of blood donation and meeting demand for blood transfusion in the country especially during emergency situations,  the Federal Ministry of Health is proposing the establishment of the  National Blood Service Commission through an Executive Bill to the presented to the Federal Executive Council.

 This has become imperative in the face of increasing conflicts across the country ocassioned activities of extremist groups and non-state actors. 

The Health Minister, Prof Isaac Adewole who made this disclosure Wednesday in Abuja on the occasion of the 2017 World Blood Donor Day said this will grant the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) the autonomy it requires to carry out its mandate in consonance with global best practices and to ensure that regularization of the appointments of core technical staff previously engaged on the programme is being pursued in order to ensure that relevant skill sets are available to optimize service delivery at the Blood Service.

Describing attitude of Nigerians towards voluntary blood donation as unfortunate, he said this has led to avoidable deaths and morbidities particularly amongst womenfolk, newborn children, victims of road traffic accidents and insurgencies.

He disclosed that while Nigeria with a population of over 180 million need about 1.8 million units of blood per annum, available national data indicate that voluntary non-remunerated blood donation accounts for only 10% of our total blood collection. Family replacement donations and commercial donations account for 30 and 60 percent respectively.

Prof.Adewole said this situation needs to be reversed as we move towards the attainment of 100% voluntary non- remunerated blood donation by the year 2020 because adequate supplies of safe blood units during emergencies cannot be overemphasised. “It reduces the incidence of mortality arising from severe acute blood losses following obstetric emergencies, trauma especially during road traffic accidents, bomb blasts, collapsed buildings to mention a few”, he said.

With the Commission, he stressed that the NBTS will thus have a proper mandate to provide safe, quality and adequate blood in an equitable and cost-effective manner to all people resident in Nigeria adding that this will be executed through a network of seventeen (17) centers spread across the six (6) geopolitical zones of the Federation including the FCT.

“Beyond setting up the NBTS, the establishment of an efficient trauma care network, which defines referral hospitals/trauma centres on the basis of their ability to treat casualties rather than their proximity to the scene of the event is an important step in improving national emergency response. This is consistent with this year’s campaign and brings to fore the urgent need to foster collaborations with relevant agencies such as the Nigerian Red Cross Society, NEMA, Nigerian Police Force, Federal Road Safety Corps, Civil Defence Corps & the Nigerian Defence Forces in order to develop an Emergency protocol/ guidelines for action during emergencies.”, he said.

Blood safety, according to him, encompasses actions aimed at ensuring that everyone has access to blood and blood products that are safe, available at reasonable cost, sufficient to meet the needs of patients, transfused only when necessary, and provided as part of a sustainable blood programme within the existing health care system

The Minister appreciated the US Government for its support to the NBTS through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 11 years under a Cooperative Agreement with the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and for their continued supply of much needed blood screening kits and other essential consumables, even after the original funding to the programme ended in September 2016.

The theme for this year’s campaign focuses on blood donation in emergencies with the slogan “What can you do? Give blood. Give Often”. 

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