Nigeria Opens First National Blood Transfusion Center To Help Curb Spread of HIV
Nigeria on Thursday opened its first national blood transfusion center in an effort to help curb the spread of HIV in the country, BBC News reports (Borzello, BBC News, 5/12). The center, which is jointly funded by the U.S.-based organization Safe Blood for Africa Foundation and the Nigerian Ministry of Health, is one of seven that the ministry and SBFA plan to open in the country (Reuters, 5/12). "In this era of emergencies, unanticipated illnesses and the challenge of the HIV/AIDS scourge, it is important to have safe and wholesome blood to save lives as may be necessary," Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said at the center's inauguration (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/12). Nigeria's health infrastructure and blood transfusion system are in a state of disorder because of 15 years of "corrupt military rule," according to Reuters. Therefore, many patients who need transfusions often go to unregulated blood suppliers, putting them at an increased risk of HIV infection, Reuters reports. According to World Health Organization estimates, contaminated blood accounts for about 10% of all HIV cases in Africa (Reuters, 5/12). In Nigeria, about 14% of the country's HIV cases are attributable to contaminated blood, BBC News reports. More than 3.5 million HIV-positive people live in Nigeria (BBC News, 5/12). "Our goal is simple -- to prevent HIV/AIDS infections and save lives," Jeff Busch, founder and chair of SBFA, said, adding, "With the help of President Obasanjo and the Nigerian Ministry of Health, today our campaign to organize national blood centers throughout sub-Saharan Africa takes a very important first step" (SBFA release, 5/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.