Monday 21 May 2018


Patients requiring blood or blood products from public health institutions are set to access them for free with effect from June as Government is finalising modalities of wholly-subsidising all associated transfusion costs, Health and Child Care Secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji has said.

In a recent interview with The Herald, Dr Gwinji said this investment was planned in a phased manner which saw the cost of blood going down from $80 to $50 at the beginning of the year.
Of late, through its own cost cutting initiatives, the National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) — which is the sole blood transfusion company in the country — had also reduced blood costs from a high of $120 to $100 and to $80.

Government hinted last year that it intended to reduce the cost of blood to as little as $10 a pint.
“We are now well advanced into the second phase where we intend to cover the full cost of a unit of blood for the public health institutions.

“The plan is to finalise this by end of June so that the beginning of the second half of the year sees this policy into full implementation,” said Dr Gwinji.

He said in addition to the $4,2 million already invested to bring down the cost of a pint of blood from the previous $80 to the current $50, Government was looking forward to channel a further $2 million for the last half of the year for patients to start accessing free blood in public health institutions.

Questioned on whether Government was planning to also run NBSZ in response to calls by some blood donors to take that route citing governance issues, and considering its latest plan to wholly-subsidise costs for patients seeking blood products from public institutions, Dr Gwinji said the current model of administration was satisfactory.

He said governance issues that cropped up recently from the institution were not of grave nature and could be addressed parallel to Government’s efforts in making blood and its products accessible to financially disadvantaged patients.

“The NBSZ has been running very well over the years serve for the recent past when governance issues cropped up. The model in use is effective and Government has no immediate intention to change that drastically.

“We are sure that the current processes within the institution would iron out these matters without us (Government) having to hold back on this critically needed investment which is meant to save lives,” said Dr Gwinji.

He said Government was also confident that by end of June, NBSZ would be having a new board beforehand.

Terms of office for four of the board members including chairman retired Justice George Smith and his deputy Mr Elliot Mugamu will be coming to an end.
Dr Gwinji also said apart from tightening Government’s oversight and demanding time-bound actions from the current board of trustees, Government was working on a regulatory framework that provides for more structured Government oversight.

Dr Gwinji said Government has since completed its initial draft of the framework, which will soon be handed over to the Attorney-General for perfection.

Meanwhile, the NBSZ has scheduled a series of branch-based annual general meetings following completion of consultative meetings held in recent months over challenges facing the Service.

The consultative meetings were necessitated by a failed emergency general meeting, whose take off was hindered by a deadlock on agenda between the board and blood donors.
The blood donors wanted the EGM agenda to absolve the board citing poor corporate governance issues. The upcoming branch AGMs will, however, enable members to recall board members whom they are not happy with.

The branch AGMs are expected to run between June 4 and 15.
Some blood donors have on several occasions tried to remove the current board on allegations of poor corporate governance practices, which they claimed contributed to high costs of blood, but failed. Herald


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