I have been fortunate enough to travel around the country, raising awareness of key issues affecting women in Nigeria. One of which is the policy adopted in most states of compulsory spousal blood donation. What this means, in effect, is that the husbands of pregnant women MUST donate blood to the bank, in cases of emergency. How noble you might think? Well, that was my initial reaction too. Men were being cajoled into honouring their vows of ‘for better or worse’, what could possibly be the matter with this? Well, let me shed some light on the problems here.
Firstly, we’ll take the right to privacy issue. Why hospitals should be entitled to the information about whether or not this was a planned pregnancy, or whether you & your spouse (if you even have one) are encountering domestics at the moment which may hinder his level of cooperation, is beyond me. It’s plain & simply discriminatory. Women aren’t forced to donate blood to their spouses in the event of loss of blood during surgery, so why is this requirement only set down for women? This policy discriminates against single mothers who will be humiliated into disclosing their personal circumstances. This policy infringes a woman’s basic right to autonomy of her own body. And this policy crosses the boundary between what should be disclosed in a patient's best interest in contrast to merely poaching into a patient's intimate details.
Secondly, the health risks. It is no surprise, especially following the twitter-malarkey only a few months back, that AIDS/HIV/STIs are rife in Sub-Saharan Africa. So its perfectly understandable to see the reasoning behind some husband’s refusal to be subjected to evasive injection. However, some husband’s outright refusal to donate blood, may prompt issues within the home. Take for instance a wife who was suspicious of infidelity, and then faces this scenario of difficult donor. Her imagination may run wild as to the reasons why he is refusing to undergo the necessary tests, thus prompting nagging at home and more strife than it’s worth. Or from the perspective of marginalised women who depend on their spouses to be the sole breadwinner? If he refuses and she continues nagging, this may give rise to a greater risk of domestic violence. It’s a lose-lose for the women here, and it’s mighty sad. The alternative of paying for an anonymous donor is sometimes not properly communicated to the women, and thus, they feel helpless without a willing husband at such a critical time during pregnancy.
Lastly, as always, it leaves room for corruption to run rampant. The process involves the husband to come forward & donate blood, pay for the blood to be stored, and then upon retrieval the patient must then pay for the blood to be transfused. That makes no sense whatsoever! What ensues is high user fees, inadequate resources to carry out the procedure efficiently and the inconvenience of having to visit the centralised bank in order to deposit & use the blood donated. The whole thing is messed up & I am struggling to see the benefit of this & how Doctors here can champion it when it fundamentally breaches their professional duties to act in their patients’ best interests.
Onyxsta says...BLEURGH!! Blood is thicker than water, but give women the autonomy to decide which she'd prefer.