The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has envisioned that when the Bill for the Law establishing the National Blood Service Commission (NBSC) is passed, then it would ensure that all who are resident in Nigeria will have access to safe blood and blood products when needed, and in an equitable manner. He has also advocated that delivering on this vision would rely on more robust quality management systems, robust regulatory frameworks, appropriate quality policies and processes, seamlessly institutionalized in coordinating blood establishments across the country, and a well-motivated, organized and committed staff.
Dr. Ehanire who was represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Dr. Chris Isokpunwu, made these declarations on Tuesday, 15th December, 2020 while delivering a keynote address at the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) Stakeholders Meeting and launching of Ten-Year Strategic Plan, 2021 – 2030 of the Service held at the NAF Conference Centre, Kado, Abuja.
The Honourable Minister also disclosed the responsibility of his Ministry at ensuring that Nigerians have access to safe, high quality blood and blood products as a matter of priority, given the prevalent unavailability of safe blood and blood products to address the country’s needs to manage the high burden of maternal and child deaths, sickle cell disease, cancer, trauma from road traffic accidents, conflict and insurgency, blood for routine surgical interventions and component production.
Dr. Ehanire also cautioned against improper handling, usage, coordination and regulation of blood. He disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Health’s report of 2018 revealed that up to 18% of newly acquired HIV infections in Nigeria are due to unsafe blood transfusions. He said transfusion transmissible infections include Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis.
The Honourable Minister of Health also disclosed his endorsement of the “One Million Safe Blood Units Initiative (OMBUI)”, an initiative of the NBTS to improve, make available enough safe blood units for transfusion and for the establishment of the “National Strategic Safe Blood Reserve” that can be swiftly and effectively mobilized during emergencies to ensure Nigeria’s population survival, health protection and wellness. He said that the reserves will be warehoused in the six NBTS zonal centres of Kaduna, Maiduguri, Ibadan, Benin, Owerri and Jos. He further discloses that other warehouses for ease of distribution will include Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja.
Dr. Ehanire further charged the NBTS on the “long overdue” blood component production and blood-related medicinal products in line with the Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP). The Honourable Minister anchored this charge to NBTS on “a strong institutional capacity” to ensure effective regulation of the quality and safety of these blood products.” The Minister also looked in the direction of “significant financial returns” generated for Government through the production and sale of a suitable range of therapeutic blood products, plasma and plasma-derivative medicinal products (PDMPs) for local, regional and international market” and the “job opportunities for a considerable proportion of the unemployed”, “additional income” that could “reduce pressures on the national budget.”
On the 10-Year Strategic Plan of the NBTS, Dr. Ehanire said it will ensure a good quality, safe and sustainable blood supply with 100% Voluntary Non-remunerated Blood Donation (VNRBD), a robust partnership and stakeholders coordination especially that the plan is with cost implications of N42.3 Billion/USD112 Million. He therefore called on partners to key into the areas that may interest them.
Earlier, the Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora who was represented at the event by his Technical Assistant, Dr. Nneka Orji as well as the Permanent Secretary, Health, Abdulaziz Mashi Abdulahi who was also represented by the Senior Technical Assistant to the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Abubakar Adanu-Ismael; all of who expressed solidarity with the NBTS as it conducts the Stakeholders Meeting and the launch of its 10-Years Strategic Plan.
As well, Partners such as the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA); Achieving the Nigeria Initiative; and the World Health Organization all expressed solidarity with the NBTS at the occasion.
Signed: Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Media & P.R., FMOH.