By Asma’u Ahmad
A haematologist, Prof. Sulaimon Akanmu, has called on the Federal Government to accelerate the process of establishing a Blood Transfusion Service Commission to ensure steady, robust and safe blood banks in Nigeria.
Professor Akanmu, who is a former President of the Nigerian Society of Haematology and Blood Transfusion (NSHBT), made the call in an interview with media on Tuesday in Lagos.
He said that establishing the commission would address the problems confronting blood transfusion service in the nation.
Akanmu said that the establishment of the commission was urgently needed in Nigeria to correct the blood supply deficit and increase the pool of voluntary (non-remunerated) blood donors.
According to him, this is expected to significantly improve blood transfusion safety and positively impact on health indices in the country.
“The NBTS will be able to have a proper mandate to provide safe, quality and adequate blood in an equitable and cost-effective manner to all people resident in Nigeria.
“The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) and its regional blood collection centres, under the Federal Ministry of Health have gone ‘comatose’ since 2013.
“Furthermore, the operations of NBTS have been impeded due to inadequate budgetary allocation and the withdrawal of PEPFAR funding.
“The US government has for 10 years under a cooperative agreement with the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), supported the NBTS through the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention ensuring 100 per cent of donor blood collected.
“Since the U.S. withdrew its donation in 2015, the NBTS has not been functioning effectively in terms of adequate supply of needed safe blood units.
“The needed blood screening kits, consumables, recruitment of voluntary blood donors, monitoring and data gathering have also not been available,’’ Akanmu stressed.
According to him, with a population of over 180 million, we have not been able to meet up with the estimated blood need in Nigeria, which are about 1.8 million units of blood per annum.
The expert said that unfortunately, much less was donated leading to avoidable deaths and morbidity particularly among women folk, newborn children, victims of road traffic accidents and insurgencies.