AVAILABILITY OF SAFE BLOOD TOWARDS AN HIV-FREE SOCIETY:
A CALL TO ACTION
Annually, World AIDS Day (WAD) provides an opportunity for all of us to take action and ensure that human rights are protected and global targets for prevention, treatment and care are met. Since 1988, World AIDS Day has been about increasing interest, inspiring involvement, fighting prejudice, and working to stop the spread of this disease. The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is Universal Access and Human Rights: which gives us an opportunity to highlight prevention and care as fundamental human rights.
In Blood Drive Initiative (BDI), a youth based nongovernmental organization that has as one of its objectives, “the curb of the spread of HIV/AIDS acquired through the transfusion of unsafe blood”, we are aware that the global community shares one common life source; blood and many in the global community also share a grave concern about this precious life source. Blood is one of the eight key health functions that must be available in any health care facilities. Facts and figures confirm that 1 out of 7 people entering a hospital have need for blood transfusion. This is because much of today’s medical care depends on a steady supply of blood from healthy donors as there remains no substitute for blood. Safe blood transfusion therefore is an ethical imperative, as health care systems should do no harm.
However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to focus particular attention on the importance of preventing transfusion transmitted infections and we are convinced that the global burden of disease due to unsafe blood can be eliminated or substantially reduces through an integrated approach to blood safety. For instance here in Nigeria, last available statistics five years ago puts transmission of infection through unsafe blood transfusion as the second largest source of HIV infection among infected individuals. A fact that then led to the emergence of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) through the support of United State’s PEPFAR program.
Our belief is that while on World AIDS Day, we pay tribute to millions of people who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS worldwide, we cannot but spread the word that universal access to safe blood for all patients in need of blood or blood product is a basic human right as everyone in need of such should be given a chance at life. 1st of December every year therefore offers us such opportunity to advocate for availability of safe blood towards prevention of HIV/AIDS infection transmissible through blood transfusion.
In BDI therefore, we recognize that;
Blood Transfusion Services (BTS) is the one vital part of modern health care system without which the efficacy of patient management in different clinical scenarios will be greatly reduced.
HIV is the most important of the transfusion transmissible infections (TTIs).
Universal access to safe blood cannot be achieved without systems and mechanisms for ensuring availability of safe blood.
Hence, this call to action because it is our staunch belief that;
Sufficient supplies of safe blood which can only be assured by regular donations from voluntary unpaid donors is critically important to provide safe blood transfusion and give individuals confidence in their health care system, just as universal screening of donated blood for transfusion transmissible infections (TTIs) is.
We have a shared responsibility as governments, health institutions, NGO/civil societies, and individuals to build on the success achieved so far in the fight against this scourge by making informed decisions and smart investments that will help save more lives.
Consequently, our governments should provide framework and regulations that would make availability of safe blood feasible for the citizens, health institutions together with civil societies or NGOs should scale-up their activities centred on voluntary non-remunerative blood donors (VNRBD), while each and every one of us as individuals must commit to spreading awareness on VNRBD as well as volunteering as blood donors.
Finally, we advocate for increased political will-power, favourable policies/regulations, dedicated support and adequate funding towards blood donation activities centred on recruitment of donors who give blood voluntarily and for altruistic reasons as records show globally that this group of blood donors have the lowest prevalence of HIV, hepatitis viruses and other blood-borne infections, as compared to people who donate for family members or in lieu of payment. With this, we are convinced that in no distant time the estimated 5-10% of HIV infections transmitted by unsafe blood transfusion in Africa according to World Health Organization (WHO) will soon become a forgotten past and the achievement of MDG 6 which is to halt and begin to reverse the global HIV epidemic by 2015 comes within reach.
It is our belief that you are as committed to giving someone a chance to live as we are.
Executive Director, Operations
Blood Drive Initiative (BDI)
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