18 January 2018

Zimbabwe: NBSZ Runs Out of Blood Group O Donors

The National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has appealed for more blood donors to rescue a potential crisis situation after running out of Blood Group O type.

Addressing Journalists in Harare on Thursday, NBSZ Chief Executive Officer, Lucy Marowa, said although they have adequate supplies of other blood group types, they are in desperate need of Blood Group 0 which is the most blood type needed by so many people.

"Our stocks at the moment are adequate for Groups A, AB and B, however we have very limited stocks of blood group O due to continued high demand,

"The proportion which is being demanded from the hospitals at times include 100% requests for blood group O only. This accelerates depletion in the blood O stocks,

"NBSZ take this opportunity to appeal to all blood group O donors who are due to come through and donate so that we replenish blood O stocks, we also extend the appeal to other healthy individuals to come through and donate blood," echoed Marowa.

She went on to say they will intensify their efforts through the Ministry of Health and Child Care to address the problem so that hospitals order and transfuse specific blood group units.

Prior to the reduction in the blood user fees, NBSZ and the MoHCC received wide criticism from parliamentarians, civic society groups and members of the public on the high cost of blood.

"Through a combined effort by both government and NBSZ, the blood user fees for public health institutions came down from $80 to $50 with effect from 1 January 2018 and we are progressively working towards making blood $10 or free,

"Internally, NBSZ took stringent cost reduction measures that saw our annual budget come down from $9 million to $7.8 million which translates to a reduction in user fees from $135,00 to $100 for public hospitals for the past 2 years,

"User fees for private hospitals is currently at $120 per unit of blood and we are currently working on a framework to review the fee structure for the private sector," added Marowa.

Secretary for Health and Child Care, Major General, Dr Gerald Gwinji said they ill reduce blood prices to $10 or free before mid-year and the ministry will continue to invest in the blood services.

"There has been a lot of outcry in terms of the cost of blood and that's what were concerned about and intend to address as a ministry,

"Our intention eventually is to make blood products free in the public sector, this is why we have taken this approach by injecting some funding to weigh down the cost of blood to $50 ,and hoping to meet the target of $10 by the middle of the year or year end,

"However, there are no difficult challenges in terms of expertise in the national blood service, we just had a few issues to deal with at the government's level, moving forward we will continue to invest in the national blood service," said Gwinji.

In 2017, NBSZ collected 63 029 units of blood missing the target of 65 000 units.

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