The Director-General of the Nigeria Blood Services Commission, Omale Joseph, has alleged that many Nigerian hospitals are giving expired blood to their patients, while others are selling blood donated to them by individuals to keep in their bank.
Omale raised the alarm while briefing journalists in Abuja on Thursday over a bill sponsored by a member of the House, Abbas Tajudeen, which the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has signed into law.
The bill is to establish the National Blood Services Commission.
The DG, while responding to a question on the need to inject sanity into the process of blood handling, utilisation and administration in Nigeria, said many officials in hospitals were cutting corners in the blood administration.
According to him, safe blood has a lifespan of 35 days after which it becomes unsafe to use. Omale also stated that some individuals now commercialise blood, donating it for fees ranging from N20,000 and above.
He, however, said that the new commission was out to stop the inhuman practices. Omale noted that blood banks and centres would be established in the 36 states and local governments in the country to save lives in the hinterlands.
He said, “A unit of blood it is taken out expires between 30 and 35 days. If you don’t transfuse this blood within that period and it gets to 35 days, it has to be thrown away. But people still keep them in their fridge and transfuse them.
“These are some of the things we are going to regulate. We are already regulating. We are also working to a point that blood will be everywhere in Nigeria. And one of the things we are doing is to initiate what we call the one million safe blood initiatives.
The DG added, “Another area the Act would help is the issue of increasing the outlets where people can get blood. For example, you rarely get blood banks outside major hospitals. Most of the states are only making do with only one or two blood banks.
“The establishment of the commission would ensure that not only state governments and their big tertiary hospitals would have blood banks, but every local government should have at least a blood bank, so that people in need would be able to access it easily and cheaply.”
Omale also appealed to Nigerians to cultivate the culture of donating blood to help them rejuvenate. Speaking earlier, Abbas disclosed that Buhari had assented to the bill.
The lawmaker said, “The president has assented to the bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Blood Service Commission.
“It is a very important milestone achieved in the medical sector of this country. Before the ascent of the president, the industry had been fragmented. It had been to a great extent, unregulated and not too coordinated and because of that, a lot of things are happening.”