Govt calls for blood price slash

HARARE - The Health ministry has challenged the National Blood Service of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) to find ways of reducing the price of blood, which is considered too high compared to other countries in the region.

Sidney Makarau, the ministry’s principal director (Curative Service), said if NBSZ manages to reduce its operating costs, the cost of blood would go down.

Currently, the lifesaving commodity costs $100 a pint in Zimbabwe, compared to around $50 in countries such as Zambia.

“They collect blood, they process it, they don’t give us free, they sell to us, so it is the NBSZ I am challenging,” Makarau said at the side-lines of a press conference to launch Zimbabwe’s World Blood Donor Day commemorations this week.

“If you ask them why they cost blood so much, they say that most of the expenses go into processing of the product, otherwise administrative, you need the driver to go and collect the blood, you need a lorry, a caravan, you need to buy the bags ... all that is factored into the unit’s are looking at the costs of collection and storage, if they can come down (and) processes are contained, also if NBSZ buys these bags from manufacturers at reasonable prices, the prices of blood will go down,” Makarau said.

“The most ideal situation would be government subsidising the price of blood in its institutions, but because of the fiscal constraints that is not possible,” he added.

During a tour of the blood blank last year, legislators revealed that some people living close to Zambia were importing blood from the country, as it is cheaper.

The cost of blood in Zimbabwe was revised downwards late last year from $135 a pint to $100 in a bid to make it affordable to patients.

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