Many women require blood replacement while in labour, because excessive loss of blood (postpartum haemorrhage) has been identified to be one of the biggest causes of death for women in labour.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) is a major cause of mortality, morbidity and long term disability related to pregnancy and childbirth.”
About 26% of maternal deaths due to bleeding in sub-Saharan Africa were directly related to a lack of blood. In Nigeria, those who have visited hospitals for childbirth know that the husband (or any other willing relative) of the woman in labour must donate blood, as transfusion might be required to save the life of the woman in labour, or her newborn. In many cases, husbands and relatives were unable to donate for different reasons. Often, one of such reasons simply is apprehension.
Some studies analyse socio-demographic characteristics and reasons for refusal of voluntary blood donation. Illiteracy and lack of formal education, as well as misunderstanding or lack of awareness of use of blood transfusions were identified as some of them. But voluntary blood donation should be a priority to increase access to safe blood.
Many women who required blood transfusion lost their lives because there was no blood or ready donors. In Nigeria, 0.3 blood units per 1000 population was collected in 2016, whereas Nigeria needs 10 blood units per 1000 population to be able to say that we have adequate blood supply to save the lives of pregnant women and newborns.
As we join the rest of the world to celebrate the 2017 World Blood Donor Day, MamaYe strongly believes that it is possible to reach the maximum requirement in blood donation. This is because of efforts of MamaYe Super Activists in Bauchi, Gombe and Lagos States who are intensifying awareness on the importance of blood donation to help pregnant women and newborns survival.
A MamaYe Super Activist in Bauchi, Umar Danjalingo, is a serial blood donor who has donated 38 times. He obliges to donate blood anytime he is in good condition to do so. The Super Activists also have a database of voluntary blood donors who have pledged to oblige anytime they are called to donate blood.
Our Super Activists hold talks to encourage people in their communities to donate blood. The awareness on blood donation by other numerous organisations is also increasing, but so should be the units of blood that Nigeria is able to collect. These efforts will have to be intensified if we want to collect the adequate quantitythat Nigeria requires.
MamaYe received an award from the National Blood Transfusion Service in 2014 in recognition of its immense contribution to the campaign for voluntary blood donation.
Blood replacement or adequate blood supply cannot be acquired by any other means than through human beings donating voluntarily. To this end, we must appreciate and celebrate the un-sung blood donors, and encourage others to do so voluntarily. This is in line with one of the WHO’s objectives of 2017 commemoration of World Blood Donor Day, “to celebrate and thank individuals who donate blood regularly and to encourage young people to become new donors as well”.
In addition to the activities of the MamaYe Super Activists, MamaYe has produced a well-received movie ‘Blood, Bond and Politics’ on the importance of government’s efforts in making our hospitals safe for mothers and babies by providing functional blood banks, among other life-saving materials.
You can take action and make a life-saving change for mothers and babies.
Want to give blood to save a mama and her baby?
NBTS, No.39, Abidjan Street, Zone 3, Wuse, Abuja, FCT, Nigeria
Phone: +234 (0)7088370905.