The PUNCH Media Foundation under the aegis of PUNCH Newspapers joined the global community to commemorate the 2021 World Blood Donor Day with a virtual event – PUNCH Webinar Series – held on Monday, 14th June 2021 via Zoom and streamed live on Facebook.
The first in the series of the PUNCH Webinar Series with the theme, “Why Nigeria Needs More Free Blood Donors”, sought to create awareness about and stimulated greater public interest in voluntary blood donation.
Speaking at the event, Dr Joseph Amedu, the National Coordinator of National Blood Transfusion Service, noted that voluntary blood donation helps a great deal in reducing maternal mortality, avoidable deaths of victims of robbery attacks, road accidents, herdsmen-farmers crisis, amongst other fatal emergencies. Despite the numerous benefits of voluntary blood donation, he observed that the practice is unpopular in Nigeria as only 5 per cent of the limited blood units donated annually come from voluntary donors. Thus, he urged everyone eligible to donate blood to embrace free blood donation as often as they could as such gesture saves lives.
While emphasising awareness creation and agenda-setting as two principal tools that must be actively engaged by the media in achieving enhanced voluntary blood donation, Mrs Moji Makanjuola (MFR), CEO and Founder, International Society of Media in Public Health,alluded to the 2011 bomb attack on the UN Office, Abuja, and the massive humane responses that greeted the event when the media stepped in, calling for urgent blood donation.Also,she maintained that the media has a role to play in beating the myths around blood donation with convincing and reassuring facts and figures.
Similarly, Mr Olakunle Lasisi, the Branch Secretary of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Lagos State, was clear in pointing at the need for every qualified adult to voluntarily donate blood at least once every three months. He added that his organisation, the Nigerian Red Cross Society, regularly creates opportunities for voluntary blood donors to make donations, which are then judiciously deployed to appropriate quarters for optimal use.
On her part, Mrs Abiola Okubanjo, CEO and Founder of Action on Blood, emphasised that voluntary blood donation thrives where there is adequate public awareness about its benefits, where donors are received in a warm and conducive atmosphere, and where donors are given a sense of worth and recognitionafter the donation. She summed these up as simply making voluntary blood donation an amazing experience for donors.
To further drive Nigeria’s need for more voluntary blood donors and the role of the youth in its sustainability, secondary school students were also given a voice at the event. These students added colour to the event with their short literary presentations – poems, short stories,and fun facts – on the benefit of voluntary blood donation. Some of the students at the event include Dadeoluwamu Adeniyi from Greensprings Schools, Lekki, Lagos; Amesa Oluwaseun, Lawal Ibrahim, Adewuyi Boluwatife, Omoniyi Osindele, Chikezie Florence, and Chukwuemeke Dorcas from Dobar Comprehensive College, Ikorodu, Lagos; Ogboli Chiamaka and Ademola Adedamola from Platform College, Ipaja, Lagos; Haastrup Israel, Abolarin Damilola, Iremide Abayomi, Martins Tolulope, Onofure Ezezobor and Ameh Esther from Graceland College, Magboro, Ogun State among others.
The virtual event, moderated by Isabella Adediji, a renowned media personality and Managing Director of the Yellow Tamarind Productions and streamed live on PUNCH Facebook, reached about nineteen thousand people, and was viewed by eleven thousand users.
The PUNCH Webinar Series is a programme designed by the PUNCH Media Foundation to mark special United Nations (UN) world days towards creating awareness of and tackling issues that underpin the sustainable development goals.
PUNCH Media Foundation (PMF) is a non-governmental organisation established in 2019 with a mission to stimulate a just and thriving society using the instrument of public policy advocacy, journalism, and media development.