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Coronavirus – Nigeria: Brief Statement by Honourable Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire in Commemoration of World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) 2020

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During this COVID-19 pandemic, the supply of safe blood is at risk, because regular blood donation drives have had to be postponed or deferred

ABUJA, Nigeria, June 15, 2020/ — By Dr. E. O. Ehanire, Honourable Minister of Health

It is my honour and pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the National Blood Transfusion Service NBTS of the Federal Ministry of Health, to the 2020 World Blood Donor Day; a day set aside each year on the 14th of June, to recognize and thank blood donors worldwide and especially here in Nigeria, as well as to raise awareness among citizens on the global need for, and importance of, safe blood.

The need is universal because safe blood is a critical and indispensable healthcare requirement nowadays, both for treatment and urgent interventions. It plays an essential, life-saving role in maternal and child care, especially bleeding after delivery, in severe anaemia, sickle cell disease and in saving the lives of victims of major accidents and emergency situations after natural or industrial disasters. Blood transfusion is also key at most complex surgical operations.

However, access to safe blood is still the privilege of not many people in the world. Most low-and middle-income countries struggle to make safe blood available to their citizens, because the quantity of blood donation is insufficient and the standardized equipment for testing blood is expensive and scarce. Globally, 42% of blood collection and use is in high income countries, who constitute just 16% of global population.

The theme for this year’s World Blood Donor Day campaign is “Safe Blood Saves Lives”. The slogan “Give blood and make the world a healthier place” has been adopted to focus on the notion that blood is life and that donors give the gift of life to others. Blood donation is therefore needed all over the world to assure individuals and communities of access to safe and quality-assured blood and blood products whenever the need arises.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, the supply of safe blood is at risk, because regular blood donation drives have had to be postponed or deferred, and regulations for self-isolation, lockdown and fear of infection have hindered the usual blood donors from accessing blood donation centers. Transport and trade restrictions have also led to disruptions of global supply chains, putting countries at risk of shortages of critical supplies and equipment used for blood donation, processing, testing and transfusion, to patients in need of blood.

Our population of over 200 million, Nigeria’s estimated blood need is about 2 million units per year. Unfortunately, much less than that is currently collected, leaving unmet needs that lead to avoidable deaths, morbidities and ill-health. You can help change this

In line with its mandate, Nigeria’s National Blood Transfusion Service strives to provide adequate supplies of safe blood, screened with modern fullyautomated enzyme linked immune-sorbent assay (ELISA) technology. In 2019, about 24,483 units of blood were collected and screened from volunteer blood donors through the 17 centres of NBTS network, while 19,676 units of blood were issued to various hospitals nationwide for transfusion purposes.

The National Blood Transfusion service wishes to increase its scope of work, by scaling up its annual blood collection rate and sustaining ongoing efforts to expand the reach of its services. I am pleased to announce that the legislative process of the Bill for the establishment of a National Blood Service Commission is at an advanced stage and awaiting public hearing at the National Assembly.

My Ministry is currently considering proposals for a major investment, from public and private sectors, to upgrade the capacity of the National Blood Transfusion Service to enable it achieve its potential to produce blood components and plasma derived medicinal products at a commercial scale, that meets international best standards and to enter the world market. This ensures optimal utilization of each unit of whole blood collected.

On behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, I wish to express appreciation to the World Health Organization for commitment and continued technical support to the National Blood Transfusion Service over the years.

I also wish to commend the media for their role and sustained efforts at sensitizing the public through creating awareness on voluntary blood donation as a laudable civic responsibility.

Finally I call today, by virtue of this campaign, on people of goodwill all over the world and here at home in Nigeria, to become life-savers by volunteering to join the people who regularly donate blood to make safe blood available to everyone in need of it. Your involvement and support will help to ensure greater impact for World Blood Donor Day, increase the worldwide realization that giving blood is an act of solidarity and service to mankind and that services providing safe blood and blood products are an essential element of respectable health care systems.

Thank you for your attention!

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