Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo launched the first of seven national blood transfusion centres on Thursday in the capital, Abuja, as an additional measure to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The centre was set up by the US organisation, Safe Blood for Africa, with the aim of reducing new HIV infections by supplying hospitals with uncontaminated blood.
Obasanjo donated blood and called on all healthy people to do the same, warning the public against "the current practice of relying on touts, blood sellers and other questionable sources" of blood.
The Associated Press quoted Obasanjo as saying, "Today's event marks a turning point in our quest to establish a safe blood transfusion service."
The project, which is being funded by the US government and the private sector, will cost an estimated $25 million to complete.