By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The federal government has said the blood service industry could become “a goldmine if explored” and turn to a “highly revenue generating” venture.
This was the view of the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, when he received members of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) led by its National Coordinator, Dr Joseph Amedu, recently.
The Minister said the commercialisation of the blood service industry was not a bad idea because Nigeria has a pool of donors more than Europe’s “with a huge population of 200 million with majority young people.”
“We have the materials right here, the masses. With global high demand for blood products, parts and proper blood fractionation, the [Blood Service] Commission will not only be self-sustaining but highly revenue generating, this is a goldmine if explored.”
He emphasised the need for a modernised blood transfusion service in Nigeria, stating that “the importance of blood transfusion service in the health system of a country is not something that we need to emphasize again”, in our country here, apart from a very high mortality rate, a large portion of which is very high, is ascribed to blood loss.”
According to him, “with a high portion of mortality rate in Nigeria, ascribed to blood loss especially around delivery – postpartum haemorrhage with a large amount of blood required for routine surgery, accidents, in trauma cases, chronic diseases like sickle cell anaemia which has a high prevalence in Nigeria, justify very well the need for the modernisation and creation of a Blood Service Commission.”
The Minister said the idea of having one million strategic blood reserve for the country was a good one, sighting the explosion that rocked Lebanon with a large number of people requiring blood transfusion.
“In a case where one is faced with such, with a reserve you have somewhere you reach into to take care of mass catastrophe and disasters,” he said.
Mr Ehanire informed his guests that the blood transfusion service has a huge potential, urging those who have the technology come up with suggestions and partnership because the “government will not have all the money; the idea of private partnership is highly recommended and welcomed.
“With South Africa being the most advanced country in Africa when it comes to transfusion science at the moment, a visit to learn from them will be worthwhile to know how it is organised and how to streamline blood testing and increase the parameters that are tested, to add more parameters.”
In his remarks, leader of the visiting team said some of the challenges faced by NBTS include lack of enabling legislation required to carry out regulatory function on blood safety practices, inadequate office accommodation, insufficient funds for its operational activities, late release of budgetary appropriation for program implementation resulting to low blood collection; late implementation and execution of scheduled activities; low public awareness and deep cultural myths and misconceptions on voluntary blood donation by the public.
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