Blood Donation
A blood donor donating blood.

Nigeria gets 150,000 Blood Units out of 2 million Needed Annually – Physicians

Physicians have decried the acute shortage of safe blood and blood products in the country, revealing that this had led to the deaths of many patients, especially now that insecurity has increased demand for blood.

They noted that as bad as the situation is, they sometimes donate blood of their own volition to sick patients in a bid to keep them alive.

The physicians who spoke exclusively to PUNCH Healthwise revealed that Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million, requires two million units [pints] of blood annually, but only 150,000 units are available at any given time.

Identifying culture and lack of awareness as major problems mitigating blood donation, the doctors urged Nigerians to change their orientation and cultural perception about blood donation and become regular donors in order to save lives.

A Consultant Haematologist and Associate Professor at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Dr. Titi Adeyemo told our correspondent that blood in supply does not meet the country’s demand.

She said, “Globally, blood supply doesn’t meet blood demand. But the problem is more in Sub-saharan Africa because we have a poor blood donation culture. So, for that reason, a lot of people are not donating, which makes it difficult to meet our blood requirements.

“World Health Organisation has calculated it and has said that for any country or community to be able to meet its blood requirement, 50 per cent of the people in that community must be committed, blood donors.

“So, in Nigeria with a population of over 200 million, we need about two million donations every year to meet our blood requirement. But we are not even collecting up to 150,000 units. You can see why there are shortages of blood and why lives are being lost because blood is not available.”

Dr. Adeyemo stated that besides cultural barriers to blood donation and lack of education and orientation, blood touting also contributes to the shortage.

“Perhaps, if people are better educated, then we are going to see more people being committed to blood donation.

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“Government needs to spend more on orientation and education of the populace about the importance of blood donation so that we can get more people committed to blood donation. This will help blood to be available in our hospitals for patients requiring transfusion”, she said.

According to her, women giving childbirth, road traffic accident victims, people with sickle cell disease, and cancer patients require lots of blood and transfusion.

Narrating her experience as it relates to blood donation, Dr. Adeyemo said, “I have donated blood to save the lives of patients. I have even brought my son to the hospital to donate blood to save a pregnant woman. So, this is our personal experience all the time.

“Our blood requirement in a month in LUTH is about 1500 to 2000 units and we are not able to collect up to 1000 units.”

A Consultant Anaesthetist and Critical care Physician at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State, Dr. Julian Ojebo, told our correspondent that the country lacks a blood drive, lamenting that many hospitals in the country do not have blood in their blood banks.

He said it has become a daily affair for doctors to donate blood to save the lives of patients in critical need because blood and blood products are not available in the blood bank.

He said, “It has now become a regular habit for doctors to donate their blood during emergencies to save the lives of patients because of the shortage. Six of my colleagues recently donated blood to save the life of a pregnant woman with placenta previa type four. Two weeks ago also, two senior registrars donated blood to save the life of a patient. Unfortunately, we lost that patient during dialysis.”

Dr. Ojebo also noted that the poor electricity supply in the country contributes to the problems of blood shortage.

The physician, however, said the narrative could change if the government and non-governmental organisations create the right awareness and mobilize people to donate blood.

According to WHO, blood transfusion saves lives and improves health, but many patients requiring transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood.

“Providing safe and adequate blood should be an integral part of every country’s national health care policy and infrastructure”, the WHO said.

SOURCE: HealthWise