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With only 20,000 units of blood in national supply, Nigeria has a blood shortage crisis


With only 20,000 units of blood in national supply, Nigeria has a blood shortage crisis

On the World Blood Donor Day (June 14) 2019, the Nigerian Health Ministry revealed that the country has an acute shortage of blood which has resulted in a lot of “avoidable deaths” and morbidity.

Per Permanent Secretary of the Health Ministry, Abdullahi Mashi:
– “Nigeria’s estimated blood need is about two million units per annum.”
– In 2018, the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) collected just “20,503 units of screened blood” and issued “16,098 units of blood…to various hospitals nationwide for transfusion purposes.”

What now? 
It appears that the NBTS is making no progress. According to a US CDC study, Nigeria is among five African countries that recorded a decrease in quantity of blood units collected between 2014 to 2016.

But Abdullahi maintains that the government is working to address the issue. He pointed out three key ways the government was working to address the shortage.

  • One – Institutionalising a “blood rotation scheme” through hospital linkages to improve access.
  • Two: Increasing blood donation by expanding reach of the NBTS.
  • Three: Upgrading equipment and infrastructure for speedy availability of blood.

He pointed out that the NBTS was migrating to a fully automated blood screening system at its centres in Abuja and Jos. (NBTS has 17 centres across Nigeria).

“One Architect 1000SR equipment has been installed at these two centres… This equipment has a shorter turn-around time and will ensure the availability of blood units screened for the mandatory four transfusion transmissible infections (HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis) within twenty-four hours.”

Bottomline: Besides the obvious lack of infrastructure to safely process and store blood in Nigeria, many Nigerians appear to have an issue with donating blood. According to data from the Health Ministry in 2017, only 10% of Nigeria’s blood donations are voluntary and non-remunerated. Paid donations account for 60% while donations from patient’s families account for 30%. Nigerians need more awareness on what is at stake and why it is important that they donate blood. 

Go deeper: Poor Funding, Lack Of Legislation Impeding NBTS Operations.

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