Ten percent of commercial blood donations are infected with HIV – NMA

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A person donating blood
A person donating blood

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) on Monday decried the very low level of blood donation by Nigerians. It disclosed that less than four (4) percent of eligible adults across the country voluntarily donate blood.

It further noted that 10 percent of HIV infections in the country comes from commercial blood donations, which makes up 90 percent (1,030,000 per annum) of total blood donation in Nigeria.

Stating that the funding to the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) centres across the country is poor, leading to deficiency in the quality of her operations, the Association urged state governments to take ownership of the NBTS centres in their domain.

The President of the NMA, Prof Innocent Ujah, made these known during a press briefing in Abuja, to commemorate this year’s World Blood Donor Day (WBDD).

Deal of the day

He said: “The WBDD is celebrated every year across the globe as one of the World Health Days (WHD) of the World Health Organization (WHO) on the 14th of June to celebrate voluntary blood donors for their rare act of heroism and draw attention to the plight of blood transfusion services in the health sector.

“Blood transfusion service is a critical factor in the health sector and plays a major role in the reduction of morbidity and mortality especially among women and children.

“The 2021 WBDD celebration has the theme ‘Celebrating the Gift of Blood’ highlighting the uniqueness of the selfless act of voluntarily donating blood and the need for everyone to take responsibility and act to support the drive to make blood safe, available, accessible and affordable.

“In Nigeria, there is low level of eligible adult blood donor population (less than 4 percent compared to South Africa 11 percent, Canada 13 percent and USA 25 percent). There is also low-level of Voluntary Blood Donation (25,000 per annum), which is less than 3 percent of total blood donation in Nigeria.

“High level Commercial Blood Donation (1,030,000 per annum) which is above 90 percent of total blood donation in Nigeria. There is also a high rate of transmission of Transfusion Transmissible Infection among blood recipients from commercial donors in Nigeria (about 10 percent of HIV infection in Nigeria).

“There is a yawning gap between the WHO recommended annual blood requirement for Nigeria (2,000,000 units) and the current figure of 1,000,000.”

While making recommendations, Prof Ujah, said: “There needs to be sustained positive action by all stakeholders towards making Voluntary Blood Donation a culture entrenched in all aspects of our lives. Budgeting and release of funds to the NBTS centres across Nigeria must be improved on.

“There is an urgent need for all stakeholders in government and in the health sector to join hands and push for the speedy passage of the National Blood Service Commission Bill and assent President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR.”