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Enforce court order stopping mandatory donation of blood before receiving health care, SERAP tells Sanwo-Olu

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Tuesday has asked the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to enforce the judgment of the Lagos High Court which stopped the mandatory donation of blood by patients or their relatives as preconditions to access health care.

The group had asked Sanwo-Olu in an open letter dated March 3, to instruct the Commissioner of Health, Akin Abayomi to enforce the judgment with immediate effect.

SERAP on Monday, filed a suit before Justice Raliat Adebiyi of the Lagos State High Court demanding a stop to compulsory blood donations from women seeking antenatal and maternity services in the state.

The group held that demanding compulsory blood donation from those seeking medical attention including maternity services, is arbitrary, unfair and a violation of their human rights including the rights to life and to equal opportunity for everyone within the health system.

In her judgment, Justice Adebiyi said a policy that denies citizens the right to medical care based on failure to donate blood is not only unconstitutional but unconscionable and adverse to the life and wellbeing of all citizens that access the respondent’s facilities.

The judge held that such action is a violation of the human rights as enshrined in section 38(1) of the 1999 constitution, thereby ordering the immediate stop and discontinue of the policy.

In the letter signed by SERAP’s deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare on Tuesday, the group noted that enforcing the judgment will spur the Lagos government in its need towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as improve the chances of everyone including women during and after childbirth, and ensure quality health services, which will contribute to the promotion of these goals.

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“The enforcement of the judgment will also show Lagos State as a champion of the SDGs and be entirely consistent with international standards and best practices, including those developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which recognize that the safest blood donors are voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors.

“The WHO has in fact recommended that no coercion should be brought to bear upon the donor to donate.”

The group noted that the effective enforcement of the judgment will also improve maternal health, comply with WHO’s policy to improve the availability and use of safe blood to save the lives of women during and after childbirth.

It will also ensure universal access to safe blood transfusion particularly for patients that are vulnerable to blood shortages and to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections, in support of the SDGs, the group had stated

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in instructing Professor Abayomi to enforce and implement the judgment by Justice Adebiyi’s judgment.

“We look forward to working with you, Professor Abayomi and the Lagos State Ministry of Health in the efforts to enforce and implement the judgment. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you,” SERAP said.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of complaints, received by the group from residents of Lagos on the compulsory donation of blood by some medical facilities before access to health care services

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