A consultant of haematology at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Uche Nwokwu, says Nigeria is yet to meet its blood needs in the country.
He made this known in an interview in Abuja on Sunday to commemorate the World Blood Donor Day (WBDD).
WBDD is celebrated annually on June 14 to raise awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.
However, the consultant said “we are still far from what is needed to take care of our blood need in a country of over 200 million people. We have not even met up to 10 per cent of our blood need as a country.
“So many people die due to blood loses in our country, especially where we have security challenges, where there are killings and trauma, crises in various communities, road traffic accidents, various diseases and people are going for various surgeries.
“The blood need of the country is quite huge and we are very far from meeting that need, so Nigerians are encouraged to willingly go to any blood donation centres around and do the needful.
“Federal Government has established National Blood Transfusion Service, and that has zonal offices across the country.
“People can voluntarily go to those centres and donate blood to save lives.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) stipulates that at least one per cent of the population must be able or willing to donate blood.
Nigeria needs between two to four million units of blood annually with the population of 200 million going by the indicators that the WHO provided to be able to meet the transfusion requirement of Nigerians.
Nwokwu told NAN “there is still blood supply deficiency in the country, in spite of efforts of the Federal Government and Civil Society Organisations on awareness creation.”
He attributed the blood supply deficiency to some myths surrounding blood donation.
He explained that “I mean, the awareness and response is still far from expected because of the myth surrounding blood donation so there is still phobia for donating blood.
“People are afraid of the consequences of fainting, of losing blood themselves and that has affected blood donation.
“Traditional belief on blood has also affected the response of Nigerians to donate blood.”
The consultant, therefore, urged Nigerians to dismiss the myths surrounding blood donation and donate blood regularly, and emphasised its benefits.
He said that the benefits of blood donation are enormous, noting that “apart from the moral satisfaction of saving lives, your system has a way of replacing the blood you have donated within two weeks.
“It essentially makes one healthier if you donate and it is advisable to donate blood quarterly, once in three or four months is allowed. It makes the person healthier.
“Personally, I donate twice every year -January and July. I have been doing that and I have not had cause to need blood and have not been sick. In fact, I can remember the last time I took drug for malaria.
“I do it as sacrifice and God has been using it to strengthen me,’’ he said.