Govt funds 'free blood' programme

HARARE - The Health ministry says it has injected the necessary funding to enable public health institutions to offer blood for free with effect from this month. 

This comes as the ministry scrapped user fees for blood accessed from public health institutions.

The David Parirenyatwa-led ministry has injected nearly $7 million as a subsidy into National Blood Services of Zimbabwe (NBSZ).

Earlier in January this year, government injected $4,2 million into the NBSZ, which saw blood cost being reduced by almost 50 percent from $80 to $50 per pint.

Health ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji said government had put the final pieces together to ensure the “free blood” programme is a success. 

“We have this year invested slightly under $7 million to make this happen,” he said.

“At the beginning of the year, we started at 50 percent of the original cost and we had promised that we would put resources together so that by July 1, going forward, we would make this commodity freely available at our institutions,” he said, adding “this has happened and we are really looking forward to ease the discomfort that our clients were facing when they required blood”.

Gwinji said the programme — spearheaded by the Health ministry in collaboration with NBSZ — is set to benefit maternal cases and vulnerable societal groups.
It is also hoped the initiative will curb the high mortality rate as a result of blood inaccessibility.

The leading causes of maternal deaths in Zimbabwe are bleeding, infection and hypertension.

“Blood is a precious commodity, particularly for those who have been involved in road traffic accidents or mothers who are delivering and they lose a lot of it,” Gwinji said.

“It is therefore critical that this commodity is accessed as freely and as quickly as possible when one needs it. What we have had over the years is that due to circumstances clients or patients had to buy blood from NBSZ or our institutions who would have themselves bought it from the NBS. This resulted in some patients requiring this commodity failing to acquire it and therefore incurring adverse effects from the accidents.

“What we have decided as government is to make blood freely available at all public health institutions and this includes, women who are pregnant who have complications with delivery, it includes children, it includes anybody requiring blood at our public health institutions.”

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