On Saturday, June 25th, 2023 a top indigenous media organization, Arewa Radio set a record for the biggest Blood Donation Drive in Kano State to support sickle cell patients across the state and beyond, which was in commemoration of the World Sickle Cell Awareness Day 2023 as well as the World Blood Donor Donor Day 2023.
The Blood Donor Clinic of the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital was filled to the brim from morning through evening as residents from within and outside the state came through to support those in dire need of blood, especially the Sickle Cell warriors.
At the end of the one day drive, close to 500 pints of blood were donated for this noble cause, the highest ever recorded in the history of blood donation drives in Kano, despite the high burden of the disorder in the state.
The Blood Donation Drive generated interests from as far as Katsina and even Niger Republic. A Bakori based farmer in Katsina State said he had to suspend everything to come down to Kano specifically for the cause, following the awareness campaigns that flooded Arewa Radio for the whole week.
Nigeria is said to have the highest burden of Sickle Cell Disorder in the continent and by extension, the whole world. With an annual infant death of about 150,000 representing more than eight percent (8%) of infant mortality in the country, Nigeria is regarded as the top sickle cell endemic country in Africa.
About 50 million people are living with sickle cell disease globally and Nigeria has about 4-6 million people living with the disease and annually about 300,000 newly diagnosed sickle cell children are born worldwide.
In addition, at least 100,000 babies die from the disorder in Nigeria every year according to 2014 statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO), making it the number one sickle-cell endemic country in Africa.
Blood transfusion is one of the most important routines of managing sickle cell patients, especially during crisis. However, the acute shortage of blood in health facilities across the country has been posing a lot of threats to those living with the disorder and Kano State is not an exception.
Myths and lack of awareness have been attributed to the inadequacy of voluntary blood donors, the most reliable way to address the shortage of blood in our hospitals.
These facts were the highlights of what motivated the Kano based radio station to explore mechanisms of solution journalism to promote engagement of stakeholders in this regard by first initiating a weeklong sensitization campaign against sickle cell and the importance of blood donation, not only to the receiver but the donor as well.
The campaign in collaboration with top civil society organizations like the Sickle Cell Trust Fund, the Sickle Cell Community, Sickle Cell Club, the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Danmaliki Pharmaceuticals and Gen. Ent. Ltd, Red Cross, Novomed Pharmacy, REACH PROGRAM and other philanthropists, held several live discussion shows, featuring medical experts, patients suffering from the disorder and their care givers.
In separate interviews, presidents of the Sickle Cell Community and that of the Sickle Cell Club in Kano, Rukayyah Kamal Ibrahim and Aminu Sabitu respectively, expressed gratitude over the massive turnout, describing it as the biggest ever recorded from the inception of their associations till date.
Speaking shortly after the program, Binta Abdullahi Fulani, a broadcaster who doubles as the Corporate Liaison Officer for Arewa Radio explains that the success of the event had buttressed the point that as a powerful tool, the radio had gone beyond the conventional broadcasting and should be able to touch lives in a more direct approach, calling on other media organizations to follow suit.
“With the help and support of our partners, we were able to set a new record of close to 500 pints of blood donation for our sickle cell warriors, and this is just the beginning as we are open to more collaboration to sustain this milestone”.
She added that, “one of the biggest challenges of blood donation asides the poor level of awareness is the high cost of blood bags, as the country relies on imports from foreign countries”.
Mrs. Fulani, who spoke on behalf of the management of Arewa Radio and the other partners, gave a breakdown of the sharing formula for the donated blood, where 110 pints of blood will be allocated to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, while Mohammadu Wase Teaching Hospital (Nasarawa), Murtala Specialist Hospital and Hasiya Bayero Pediatric Hospital were allotted 100 pints of the donated blood each and Dala Orthopedic Hospital will receive 25 pints.
According to the media organization, the donation is set to begin on Monday June, 26th 2023, adding that the receiving hospitals will be expected to conduct the screenings and testes as well as provide the results, which will later be distributed to the donors in due course.