By Joy Odigie
The National Blood Service Commission (NBSC) has stressed the need for stronger partnerships and awareness for Voluntary Non Remunerated Donors (VNRD) to donate blood to increase reserves in the country.
Prof. Kenneth Halim, the Zonal Director, NBSC South South Office, Benin, made the call during an event to commemorate the 2023 World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) in Benin on Wednesday.
Halim noted that there was a need to increase the blood reserves in each zonal centre in keeping with the 10-year strategic plan to have or warehouse one million units.
He said that only a low supply, approximately 25,000 units, was obtained from VNRD in Nigeria.
He added that “we need at least two million units yearly. It is unacceptable that less than 10 per cent of eligible adults donate blood voluntarily, as most donors are commercially induced, approximately 60 per cent.
“Comparatively the 25,000 units in Nigeria is much lower than the U.S.A with 6.8 million units from VNRD, and 25 per cent of eligible adults, while South Africa has 11 per cent for eligible adult donors. We need to upscale our figures in Nigeria.”
He, however, called for proper screening of VNRD, noting that one in 10 HIV cases were due to unscreened transfused blood.
He explained that the 2023 WBDD slogan focused on patients requiring life-long transfusion and underlined the role every individual could play by giving the valuable gift of blood or plasma.
He said the commemoration of the WBDD is to celebrate and thank individuals who donate blood and encourage more people to become new donors as well.
“It is also to mobilise support at national, regional and global levels among governments and development partners to invest, strengthen and sustain national blood programme.
“It highlights the importance of giving blood or plasma regularly to create a safe and sustainable supply of blood and blood products that can always be available.”
The zonal director appealed to the private sector to invest in technology and WBDD programme to upscale blood availability for transfusion in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the slogan for the 2023 WBDD is “Give Blood, Give Plasma, Share Life, Share Often.”