Temie Giwa: Blood donors – The givers of life (Y! FrontPage)

by Temie Giwa

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Blood from volunteer donors is often the difference between life and death yet Nigerians hardly donate blood voluntarily.

Consider these facts: Blood means life but in Nigeria access to safe blood is rare. About 10% of all HIV cases are caused by unsafe blood transfusion. Volunteer blood donors can help save the lives of 26,000 Nigerian women during childbirth every year, which translates, to 500 every week. But that is just one sector of society. Nigeria recorded 4,260 deaths in road accidents across the country in 2012 . Many of those people could have survived if we had a proper emergency health system that is functional and has all the supplies of blood Nigerians need. 6, 269 road traffic crashes shows that many lives could have been saved.

Blood from volunteer donors is often the difference between life and death yet Nigerians hardly donate blood voluntarily. Ministry of health report show that 60% of all blood donations are from commercial donors, 30% from family replacement and only 10% are from voluntary donors. Only about 54% of the blood needed in Lagos is collected and only 10% is collected from volunteer blood donors. Also, the little blood collected are not properly screened or distributed so many Nigerian lives are lost or severely handicapped because of this. Our role is to change this by committing to blood donation three or four times a year. That is all it takes.

Last year, Nigeria lost 59,000 women and even more little children to clearly preventable deaths. Of this, about 26,000 died due to a lack of clean life saving blood. Each year, Nigerian communities lose thousands of citizens due to a failure of citizenship. This is also a failure of a health system that neglects its duties of making it easy for citizens to fulfill their responsibility. Saving Nigerian lives from preventable deaths requires action from the government, international partners and from citizens like you. The government is charged with fixing systemic issues that will allow public health centers and hospitals to function efficiently and deliver the best care. However, a normal citizen is charged with doing all he/she can to help reduce maternal mortality in their community by giving blood.  Availability of safe blood means life for countless pregnant women and young children in Nigeria. Ensuring that clean safe blood is available in each hospital can change things.

If one is determined to help reduce maternal and child mortality in Nigeria, a way of doing so that does not include leaving one’s job and getting a medical degree is by doing something so little as giving blood. Nigeria’s goal is to reach 100% volunteer blood supply yet right now it is only at 10%. The goal is far away and this is the one time where the government cannot solve the problem even if it wants to.

But what will work?

Nigerians are lead busy lives so it is imperative that we make it easier for them to give blood.

To mark the 2013 World Blood Donor Day, One Percent Project and other major stakeholders of the Nigerian technology and advertising sectors have committed 3 days to building an app that makes it easier to give and receive blood in Nigeria. You want to give blood? There is now an app for that.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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