NBTS attributes low blood donation to lack of donors, funding

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The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) on Friday attributed the nation’s low donation of blood to voluntary non-remunerated donors and lack of funding.

Mrs Oluwatoyin Smith, the NBTS’s National Coordinator, made the disclosure in Abuja during the commemoration of the World Blood Donor Day (WBDD).

Every year on June 14, the day is marked to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.

The theme for Blood Donor Day 2019 is “Blood donation and universal access to safe blood transfusion to achieve universal health coverage”.

The slogan for the campaign is “Safe blood for all” to raise awareness about the universal need for safe blood in the delivery of healthcare

Smith said: “ We were not able to meet our target last year. In 2015, we were able to collect up to 62,000 units of blood within the NBTS network when funding was regular. In 2018, we were only able to collect 21,000 units of blood, which was a huge drop which is usually associated with inadequate funding. Once funds are available, there will be an increase in blood collection within the network as blood donor drives will be routinely conducted across the country,” she said.

According to her, conducting routine blood drives across the country is capital intensive.

“This is as blood recruiters have to camp out of the state for four to five days in order to harvest up to 400 units of blood during the drive.”

Smith said with funding, the organisation would be able to continue participating in routine radio
programmes during which questions from the listening public can be addressed.

The National Coordinator said the NBTS had also developed a documentary on voluntary blood donation and blood safety that could also be aired regularly on national television.

She said NBTS recently entered into a Public Private Partnership with a private organisation that provided a fully automated equipment for screening blood units within 24 hours to boost their services.

Smith said the automated equipment had recently been installed at the Abuja and Jos centres, adding that equipment screens blood for the four blood-borne infections.

“The hospitals will now access freshly collected blood that is screened, which will be helpful to the hospitals particularly when they have emergencies. The newly installed fully-automated equipment, will serve to deepen our relationship with some of our teaching hospitals and other healthcare facilities thereby deepening access to safe blood,” she said.

Smith said the organisation had not received funding for its operational costs since 2016.

According to her, it has survived on proceeds from blood access fees and capital funding from the national budget, which is usually received toward the end of the year and is not adequate.

She appealed to Nigerians to donate blood voluntarily knowing that there were no alternatives to human blood and one would be saving lives by donating.

Bilkisu Pai