NBSZ Requires $20 million For Capitalisation

THE National Blood Services of Zimbabwe’s (NBSZ) capitalisation process could require not less than $20 million if the organisation is to fully function to its maximum capacity, a top NBSZ official has said.

By Michael Gwarisa

In an exclusive interview with HealthTimes, newly appointed NBSZ Board Chair, Mr Rodgers Matsikidze said funding was currently the biggest challenge for the organisation and as a result, growth has been at a snail’s pace.

“There is a lot to be done at NBSZ. Firstly, the major issue to be resolved is of capitalization. Currently NBSZ is underfunded. My view is NBSZ should be able to spread its wings to each and every province. Currently we have only five centres in ten provinces. We need ten centres at least one centre in each province. Remember we receive blood from the rich and the poor from every corner of Zimbabwe and therefore every corner of Zimbabwe should be well within the reach of NBSZ.

“Moreso, we need to upgrade our equipment, laboratories, vehicles, and buildings needs facelift.  My view is that for capitalization we would need around US$20 million within five years and around US$10 million every year for operations, that will ensure blood reaches the recipients at almost zero cost.  This means we need to change the Status of NBSZ to an institution that can receive funding from government and international agencies not the current private limited nonprofit making status we have,” said Matsikidze.

He added that despite efforts to engage various funders over the year, the issue of capital injection still remains a challenge. The NBSZ is currently being  funded through a partial cost recovery system.  Some of its funding comes from Government, resource partners and a few corporates. NBSZ supplies blood and blood products to 46 Government hospitals, 14 mission hospitals and 35 private hospitals across the country.

“Clearly if you look at the number of funders NBSZ has, its clear that it has failed to attract funding. Government has chipped in but there is need to change the status of NBSZ to an institution that access funding from government without any limitations. Blood should be a line item in the fiscus. So we are researching on the best model.

“We have made it clear and the Ministry of Health and Child Care has made it clear that they do not want NBSZ as a department but should run independently but obviously have a statutory relationship with the Ministry of Health and Child Care. Once we converge on the best model we will then ensure that we push for the correct legal instruments to back the legal persona of NBSZ.”

Matsikidze also said the new legal framework should be able to attract many donors that is Corporate, NGOS and government to fund NBSZ without any legal hiccups.

“The second issue is to address governance issues once and for all. Currently NBSZ has too many governance documents, articles of association and five constitutions. These constitutions need to be consolidated as one. We need to do away with articles and be governed by a Constitution that is unitary.  Currently we have multiple structures which simply add to confusion.

“The other issue relates to membership. Many donors do not know that it’s their right to be members of NBSZ. In that respect, we are going to ensure that its automatic to be a member and not something that require an application. Your application is your blood donations.

“We also need to revise the donor rights and charter and ensure that the donors are respected more than anything. Another thing that require attention is the absence of independent members on NBSZ board which compromises the board,” said Matsikidze.

Currently the board has around 14 members two members from each centre and the CEO and the chairman. The number is too big according to Matsikidze and should at least be trimmed to members.

“The members should be five donors and three independent and the CEO as ex office member.  We are working to ensure that at the expiry of the term of the tenure of this board, only nine members shall be board members. Five blood donors, three independent and CEO.

“Currently on the board we have two females; CEO and one. That definitely not good. We need gender balance. At least four women.  I expect next election to address this and have a female chairperson. SO we want to have a NBSZ that reaches all the parts of Zimbabwe and providing blood at very affordable price for benefit of the poor and the rich. We want an NBSZ that is very transparent.”

Meanwhile, speaking on the image of the company, Matsikdze said more work needed to be done to spruce up the bad image the company generated during the previous board’s tenure.

“The first challenge is to shake off from the remnants of bad publicity and restore confidence that we are a different board. Some already believed because of some old board members prior from the previous board we will not change anything but I can assure you that we all have agreed that we need to change things.

“The second challenge relates to reduction of board members. Our election was under the old articles which calls each centre to have two representatives and as such the new article adopted at the last AGM have no transitional clause and we are legally stuck because we cannot say you we are dropping you and you are remaining. We are therefore working on putting in the transitional clauses and probably during the next AGM have them adopted. Once the current board’s expires we then  ensure only nine members are elected in the board.”

He also said the issue of board members serving longer periods should and will never be entertained under the new administration.

“Yes indeed NBSZ had members serving for very long periods of time. I can assure you that ended and will never be repeated. The maximum one can go now is two terms of four years which I feel are too long. The terms should have been two years. I believe that we need to cultivate a culture of serving.

“When you are there to serve you will not want to stay for long because you will be tired of working and need a rest hence it’s easy to allow others to take over. If you are there to be served or to enjoy power you will be definitely not keen to give others opportunity to serve. We have a huge task to accomplish particularly creating a culture of serving and servanthood. We are going to put all necessary legal framework to prevent members from serving for life. Eight years maximum which I feel is long.”

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