The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) joins the global community in commemorating World AIDS Day 2020.
According to the Federal Ministry of Health, up to 10% of new infections with HIV in Nigeria are due to unsafe blood transfusions. Globally, approximately 38 million people are currently living with HIV, with 67% of them resident in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2019, more than 1 million people on the continent were newly infected with HIV, accounting for 60% of the global total, and unfortunately, 440,000 people in Africa died from HIV-related causes.
This year, the theme of World AIDS Day is “Global solidarity and shared responsibility” because the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated clearly the role of strong collaborations and intentional leadership to sustain and expand access to essential healthcare services, including HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care.
While the pandemic has presented challenges in the delivery of such services across the world, especially in areas affected by conflict, disasters, outbreaks and rapid population growth, there is still a lot that can be done, calling on the galvanising power of robust collaborations and partnerships.
Indeed, World AIDS Day remains an opportunity to remind people and governments that HIV has not gone away, and there is a critical need to sustain the HIV/AIDS response and build on current achievements. Working together to increase awareness of the impact of HIV on people’s lives, to end stigma and discrimination and to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV is paramount. COVID-19 has illustrated that during a pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe, and this crisis has been a wake-up call – an opportunity to do things differently—better, and together.
We use this opportunity to encourage and support all stakeholders in Nigeria especially The National AIDS and STDs Control Programme (NASCP) to the commitment to a stronger HIV/AIDS response in Nigeria. On the part of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS), we will continue to emphasise preventive measures such as never sharing needles or razors, practising safe sex, safe handling and disposal of sharps and accepting blood donations only from properly counselled donors. We will also through our role in coordinating and regulating blood services work to enhance the safety of blood for transfusion in Nigeria.
The National Blood Transfusion Service heartily commends all our partners and stakeholders in government, especially The National AIDS and STDs Control Programme (NASCP), National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), private sector, development partners and civil society who are working tirelessly towards ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Nigeria through steady advocacy for raised community and political awareness, funding for testing, medicines and targeted research.
Together we will continue to explore innovative and sustainable ways to reduce this scourge in the society.
NBTS will continue to support all such efforts to ensure a safer pool of blood donors, and blood and blood products that are safe from infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis.
To reach the goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa, we will all need to come together with one focus and one vision while playing our different individual and collective roles towards the achievement of this goal. Truly, only global solidarity and shared responsibility will help us beat the coronavirus, end the AIDS epidemic, and guarantee the right to health for all for the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC) and the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) will on her own part continue working towards the achievement of safe blood for all who may need it in Nigeria.
Safe blood saves lives.
By Dr Omale Amedu,