By Daniel Phiri
BINGA North legislator Prince Dubeko Sibanda has called for the disbanding of the National Blood Services of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) arguing that it is charging fees which are exorbitantly above the reach of the majority of Zimbabweans for its blood and blood products.
People in most surrounding Sadc countries access blood and blood products for free and the state absorbs the costs or in some cases subsidises but in Zimbabwe a pint of blood is currently pegged at US$80 after NBSZ was directed to lower the charges, its previous price was anything around US$130.
These exorbitant prices are despite the fact that NBSZ get blood for free from donors and it also get financial assistance from the National Aids Council (NAC) and other international development partners to assist in collecting and processing blood.
Speaking in the National Assembly following a committee report on a fact finding mission to Zambia, Honourable Dubeko-Sibanda said Zimbabwe should disband the current NBSZ and form another one which will be controlled by the state.
“…NBSZ is also receiving donations from other entities and organisation inside and outside the country and then what are they doing, they are getting blood for free from Zimbabweans and exporting that blood at a premium to other countries.
“So we do not need that organisation anymore, this country does not need that organisation anymore – unless if we can turn that organisation into a State owned enterprise where the State has got a claim into it and where the State can control how blood and blood products are being gotten from, from wherever they are coming,” he said.
Honourable Dubeko-Sibanda revealed that he was disappointed to note that the Ministry of Health and Child Care actually participates in the setting up of blood prices in Zimbabwe and have allowed NBSZ to charge exorbitant fees.
“…I am really disappointed with a scenario where I am told that the Ministry of Health and Childcare, a public institution is the one that is responsible for setting prices. It sets prices of blood at a level where it knows that the general public cannot afford.
“Right now as we speak, in terms of maternity, I think our blood is being funded by a development partner, EU. EU is funding the blood that is used in the maternity wards of this country and if they were going to decide to pull out, what would happen to maternal mortality rate? There would spike and all the time what are we doing, we are just seated and think everything is normal,” Honourable Sibanda said.
The Binga North legislator implored Parliament to take positive steps to ensure that the issue of blood is addressed and addressed urgently, as the country begins the Christmas holiday in about two weeks time.
Meanwhile, NBSZ is said to be seriously running out of blood stocks and has been calling for potential donors to come and donor blood at its various centres around the country.