The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has recognised some voluntary unpaid blood donors for consistency and timely donations to the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS) blood bank.
Ehanire made the recognition on Monday in Abuja during a news conference in commemoration of the 2021 World Blood Donor Day.
World Blood Donor Day is celebrated annually on June 14.
The day is set aside to raise global awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion.
It is also aimed at recognising contributions of voluntary, unpaid blood donors to national health systems.
The minister, represented by Dr Ngozi Onwudigwe, the Director of Hospital Services in the ministry, described blood donation as the live wire of mankind.
He said that personal commitment of donors had helped to save lives and improve the health of others.
Those recognised at the NBTS, Federal Captial Territory Zone, include Mr Nathan Akpan who donated blood 67 times, and a lawyer, Ms Hajara Isa, who won in the female category with 32 times blood donation.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still ravaging the world and the consequent restrictions on morbidity, many blood donors have continued to donate blood, personally committed to saving lives of those in need.
“This act is indeed heroic and worthy of commendation,” he said.
Ehanire encouraged others Nigerians to embrace the humanitarian call to donate blood and inspire others to do same.
He also called for promotion of community values of blood donation.
According to him, adequate supply of blood and blood products would reduce mortality associated with life-threatening diseases, trauma cases from accidents, anaemia, and bleeding in pregnancy and delivery.
He said that about 118.5 million blood units were collected annually worldwide with only 15 percent from voluntary unpaid donors.
“In Nigeria, less than five per cent of all blood donations come from voluntary unpaid donors.
“Every country must have a strong base of voluntary unpaid donors in order to ensure that everyone who needs safe blood has access to it,” he said.
The NBTS National Coordinator, Dr. Omale Amedu, said that a similar recognition would take place in all NBTS zonal offices. Amedu said that the agency was committed to regulating, coordinating, and ensuring safe, quality, and affordable blood and blood products in the country.
He said that NTBS’s 10-year strategic plan, including a target of one million safe blood units would ensure increase in the number of voluntary unpaid donors in order to meet the rising needs for safe blood and blood products across the country.
In a goodwill message, Prof. Innocent Ujah, President of, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), called for more advocacies and sensitization about the need for more voluntary unpaid blood donors.
World Health Organisation representative, Dr. Omotayo Hamzat, called for improved blood donation to save lives and improve health.
Dr. Prosper Okon, Chief Executive Officer, APIN-Public Health Initiative, said the organization would engage in advocacies and blood drives in selected areas in the Federal Capital Territory to sensitize the public about the need for blood donation.
Okonkwo, represented by Mrs. Rita Ayoka-Ikechukwu, the organization’s Technical Officer on Prevention and Community Services, urged more Nigerians to join in the campaign for blood donation in The NBTS in collaboration with other stakeholders organized in a road walk, webinar, and sensitization to mark the World Blood Donor Day.