By: Clive Makumbe
Blood uptake declining: NBSZ
The current cash shortages have forced a critical fall in the uptake of blood by government hospitals as patients fail to obtain the ‘life-saving’ liquid, a National Blood Services of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) official has said. Since patients in government hospitals are obligated to part with at least $135 per blood unit whilst those in private medical institutions need to fork out a minimum of $161 which is the actual cost of production. Speaking to The Sun, NBSZ head of centre in the Midlands province Llyod Kaondera said the government no longer subsidizes blood products and stated that patients are now bearing the brunt. “In the past five or so years, our medical institutions used to utilize about 350 to 400 units of blood per month but of late because of economic challenges our government is not in a position to continue subsidizing our blood products, and as result grants are not forthcoming, we are now pushing the cost to our patients,” said Kaondera.
“The government has been doing very well to assist the organization and at the moment it’s spearheading the Health Transitional Fund which is assisting maternity cases through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it’s alleviating the situation but for now we don’t have anything for the ordinary patients. Basically most of our challenges are centred on the economic challenges we are facing as a country.” The low uptake of blood units in hospitals, particularly government medical institutions, stands out as a shocking revelation that several patients are losing life in health centres due to their financial incapacities to purchase blood. NBSZ public relations officer for the Midlands province Aggrey Nkazana said the low uptake of blood has forced the institution to limit blood collections. “We are currently going around schools collecting at least a target of 40 units from a school and this gives about 200 units per month, our uptake in hospitals is still low so we are actually limiting our collections so that we don’t expire a lot of blood unnecessarily,” he said.
Meanwhile, NBSZ authorities in Gweru have lamented the reluctance of adult persons in making regular blood donations.