Saving Nigerian lives from preventable deaths requires action from the government, international partners and from citizens like you.
I think a lot about citizenship and what that entails. What does it mean to be a citizen? What are the responsibilities of a member of a community to the collective health of that community? These are important questions that need to be answered in our Nigerian community. Apart from the civic responsibility of voting, what else must a citizen do to be considered a valued member of that community? I believe answers to these questions are the missing link in what ails Nigeria. The civil society spends a lot of time talking about the government, and the voting process, as if these are the only duties of the led. In this column I have spent a lot of ink thinking about these ideas and forming my opinion of what it means to be a good citizen and a good follower. I have argued for equal participation, for a responsible press, and for a strengthened civil society based on volunteerism. However, today I will expound on an often forgotten tenets of good citizenship, which is giving blood.
Last year, Nigeria lost 59,000 women and even more little children to clearly preventable deaths. Of this 59,000 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. Blood from 100% volunteer donors can save thousands but Nigerians hardly donate blood voluntarily. Recent reports show that 60% of all blood donations are from commercial donors, 30% from family replacement and only 10% are from voluntary donors. Those who do donate blood belong to a generation that is fast disappearing. Also, the little blood collected are not properly screened or distributed so many Nigerian lives are lost or severely handicapped because of this.
I currently serve as the Team Lead of a project that aims to make this tenet of citizenship easier. One Percent Project, an organization headquartered in Lagos launched a blood donor database recently. The database aims to get 10,000 Nigerians to commit to blood donation to save lives by registering as blood donors. Choosing to give a unit of this precious gift saves the lives of those in dire need of blood. Nigeria needs just 1% to give blood regularly to ensure that in cases of emergency quality blood is always available for patients who need it. Thousands of people would die daily if there is no sufficient blood in blood banks around the country. If only one percent of Nigerians choose to donate blood, life will be saved. A pint of blood can equal three gifts of life to pregnant women, children with severe anemia, accident victims, victims of terrorism, cancer patients and patients in need of surgical care.
Click HERE to sign up to join the 10,000 donor army today.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.