The theme for Blood Donors Day 2016 is “Blood connects us all”. As the world celebrates one of the finest health innovations ever known to man, we take a look at how it has affected Maternal and Child health.
The largest cause of maternal mortality is hemorrhage, which accounts for approximately 25% of maternal deaths. Blood loss during pregnancy, labour or post-partum are detrimental to the health of the mother and can rapidly lead to death.
A common complication of malaria, severe anaemia can quickly lead to child deaths. However, it can be easily remedied by Blood transfusion. Most children present in the hospital today need blood transfusions. The problem is, there are no Blood donors.
There are some misconceptions associated with blood transfusion with a direct implication of about 90% of Nigerians not wanting to donate blood. The remaining 10% are sometimes discouraged by the health system. According to studies, no fewer than 26,000 women lose their lives yearly because of blood shortage. 20,000 children die for the same reason. One in four patients in the hospital need blood.
Many Nigerian health professionals have lamented about this problem for so long. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a target of achieving 100% voluntary non-remunerated donation by 2020. Nigeria, as a member nation in WHO has made little progress in this respect. Currently, a large majority of blood donors in Nigeria are family members or paid donors.
A lot of people are still very sceptical about donating blood unless a family member is involved and it becomes absolutely necessary.
Some common factors that account for the very low percentage of blood donors in Nigeria include:
Lack of reliable testing systems: there are important tests that need to be carried out before a person can be allowed to donate blood. Examples of such tests include packed cell volume (PCV), tests for diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B etc. which can be transmitted through blood. A lot of these tests are often skipped because most times, blood comes from paid donors.
Poor blood banking systems: blood is a biological fluid consisting of different cells and water. Preservation of blood is a very important aspect of blood donation systems. It does not make much sense if someone donates blood only for it to be rendered useless because conditions for preservation are less than optimal.
Erroneous beliefs associated with blood donation: some have the belief that something unpleasant happens when one donates blood, while others believe that if they donate blood, they will die. Some men have also linked donating blood to the onset of impotence.
All these problems can be taken care of by:
- Implementation of functional, reliable blood testing systems for prospective blood donors
- Provision of functional, effective and efficient blood banking systems such that people are confident that the blood they donate will not end up in the trash.
- Mass literacy, awareness and education on the importance of blood donation to disabuse the minds of people about the myths and misconceptions associated with blood donation.
According to Mr Agba, Pharmacist and MD of Tyonex healthcare limited, at the World blood donor day celebration 2015, “People die every day in our hospitals due to loss of blood and blood shortage in blood banks. This is needless loss of lives. We can help by donating blood. We should see it as a civic responsibility”
Remember, blood donation will cost you nothing but it will save a life and Your Droplets of Blood May Create an Ocean of Happiness.
Blood is life, blood connects us all…donate blood and save a life today.