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LASG partners religious leaders, others to meet 260,000 annual blood unit

By Monsuru Olowoopejo

As part of strategy to meet growing blood demand in Lagos, the State Government has partnered religious bodies, youth organizations, Non-governmental organizations, and others to achieve the over 260,000 units of blood needed annually in the state.

It said that a regular supply of blood was essential in Lagos due to population explosion and short life span of blood after collection from donors.

The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, noted that efforts are being intensified by the State government to meet and surpass this requirement through recruiting and retaining voluntary blood donors.

Speaking during  virtual 2020 World Blood Donor Day organized by Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service (LSBTS) on Sunday, Abayomi stated that in order to maintain adequate blood supply about two per cent of Lagos population need to become blood donors for the state.

He explained that  regular supply of blood was essential since life span of blood is short while pint of donation remain viable only for 35 days, the reason the state advocating for volunteer of more donors.

” To maintain an adequate blood supply, one to two percent of the population needs to become regular blood donors; this is about 260,000 in a growing population of over 26 million in Lagos state.  life span of blood is very short. Each unit of blood donated remains viable for 35 days.  Thankfully, we are working hard in partnership with the public and private sector, Non-governmental organizations, religious bodies, youth organizations to achieve this target number”, he said.

Abayomi, while speaking on the theme of this year’s event, ‘Safe Blood, Saves Lives: “Give Blood And Make The World A Healthier Place’, assured participants that encouraging and promoting voluntary blood donation in a safe and conducive environment is the goal of the State government.

“This year’s theme has come in at a time the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the various phases of lockdown and travel restrictions have brought about some challenges to our blood donation drives. The need for blood transfusions and medications based on blood components has however continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the LSBTS voluntary blood donation centers were open all through with an extension in our opening hours.

“Scientifically, there are no confirmed reports of coronavirus being transmitted by blood transfusion anywhere in the world and strict additional safety measures including more handwashing sites, use of hand sanitisers, use of personal protective equipment as well as maintaining social distancing is kept are being practiced at the blood collection sites for donors and staff”, he added.

Arguing that there was no substitute for blood, Abayomi noted that the lives of patients with severe anemia, accident victims, patients with cancer, and hemoglobinopathies were saved by the effective blood transfusion in the state.

The commissioner stressed that adequate and timely supply of safe blood was needed to continue helping those people who are in need of blood transfusion.

“We, therefore, cannot overemphasize the need to ensure the availability of blood in our blood banks where patients who require blood transfusion can be readily supplied. While I would like to say a big thank you to all voluntary blood donors who have made it a duty to give the gift of lifeblood, I would also like to use this medium to encourage citizens who are healthy and fit and aged from 18-65 to please give blood. People in good health who have never given blood, particularly young people, should begin to do so”, Abayomi said.

Speaking in the same vein, the Executive Secretary, LSBTS, Dr. Bodunrin Oshikomaiya, said the campaign to increase voluntary blood donation drive has been intensified and sustained to meet with the blood transfusion needs in Lagos State.

She noted that LSBTS is working with the World Health Organization to improve access to blood transfusions and promote blood safety, focusing four key areas which include; centrally coordinated blood transfusion service, collection of blood exclusively from voluntary donors from low-risk populations, testing of all blood for compatibility and transfusion-transmissible infections, and reduction of unnecessary transfusions.

“Blood safety involves all activities related to blood collection from low-risk, regular, voluntary unpaid donors as well as testing, processing, storage, and distribution of blood. The LSBTS, governed by the national blood policy and the Lagos State legislation, promotes uniform implementation of standards and consistency in the quality and safety of blood and blood products”, Oshikomaiya said.

She added that health workers involved in blood transfusion have been trained on documentation, quality assessment, and the rational use of blood and blood products to reduce unnecessary transfusions.

“Over the years, training of staff on documentation, quality assessment and rational use of blood and blood products to reduce unnecessary transfusions, to minimize the risks associated with transfusion, to encourage the use of alternatives to transfusion where possible, as well as training on safe and good clinical transfusion practices have gone on in the state health facilities”, the Executive Secretary said.

Expressing delight that many citizens are responding positively to the clarion call to donate blood voluntarily, Oshikomaiya noted that the increase in voluntary blood donors is a testament that citizens now recognize the importance of blood donation and transfusion in saving lives.

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