The Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Action On Blood, Abiola Okubanjo has urged government agencies and non-governmental organisations to make blood donation an amazing experience for voluntary blood donors.
Okubanjo stated that there is a need for a behavioural change regarding blood donation in every society.
She spoke on Monday at the PUNCH Media Foundation webinar series in commemoration of the 2021 World Blood Donor Day with the theme ‘Why Nigeria needs more free blood donors’.
The webinar is aimed at creating awareness on blood donation and stimulating greater public interest in voluntary blood donation.
She said “we have to make sure that voluntary blood donors have amazing experiences when they come forward.
“We lose so many voluntary blood donors because the donation experience isn’t great and that is what we need to work on.
“We have to work on how we talk to our donors, these are our heroes, they are our lifesavers, we can do nothing without them, we need to honour them and celebrate them.
“They need to feel safe to donate. We do not need to forget them once they donate. We need to keep engaging them,” she said.
Okubanjo said there is a need to involve everyone in the drive for voluntary blood donation.
“To change the culture, we need to be bold about doing things and get the musicians to sing about voluntary blood donation.
“For us at Action on Blood, we have been bold and creative and we need to encourage people that when they donate blood, they are saving lives. We need to educate everyone, even the motorcyclists.
“Our people should talk about the importance of blood donation during the commissioning of events or programmes. We need to do more than talking. We need to take action. we need to mobilise everybody to get involved in blood donation.
“We want to mobilise ordinary people, individuals, friends, religious organisations, corporate organisations, government departments, and the media to get involved,” she said.
Okubanjo said, “When I started Action on Blood, I came in from a very commercial point of view but we have to use research that has gone on before to see how this thing works and one of the ways these works is getting bahaviour change. We have to change people’s behaviours.
“So, first, we need awareness, people need to know that they need to donate blood. We need to educate people. We are finding so much misinformation. People don’t know the basic things about donating blood and so, the first step is awareness and education.
“Then, we have to engage with the community with the right message, the right messenger, and the strategy to use for specific people like the pregnant women, the elderly, or the husband.
“We need to think about how we communicate and how we engage with the community. We need to have a one-on-one chat with people. People need to know about blood donation,” she said.
She also disclosed that Action on Blood is working on a Nollywood movie to promote organ and blood donation to Black communities.
“This year, we are doing a Nollywood movie to let people know the importance of blood and organ donation,” she said.
Other speakers at the event include the National Coordinator, National Blood Transfusion Service, Dr. Joseph Amedu; Lagos State Branch Secretary, Nigerian Red Cross Society, Olakunle Lasisi; Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the International Society of Media in Public Health, Moji Makanjuola.