THE country has enough blood stocks to sustain the national demand, contrary to media reports that the blood bank was facing acute blood shortages, National Blood Service of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) Public Affairs Manager, Ms Esther Massundah has said.
By Michael Gwarisa
In a statement, Ms Massundah said blood has a shelf life of 42 days and therefore it can only be normal for the blood bank to maintain a five day supply of blood every week and this does not mean there is a shortage.
“Following a series of inquiries, NBSZ hereby wishes to clarify its position to members of the public on the status of blood stocks following a media article published through the Sunday Mail titled; Zim runs short of critical blood stocks” published Sunday 10 March 2019.
“The Blood Service confirms that the national blood bank currently has enough stocks for any procedures requiring blood transfusion at both government and private health institutions.
“NBSZ periodically monitors the blood bank and stocks are maintained at five day’s supply which is the optimum level to be maintained (this was misinterpreted in the article that NBSZ has run out of blood). Blood has a shelf life of 42 days and therefore, NBSZ cannot overstock the blood bank as this will result in expires,” said Massundah.
She added that the coming in of the free blood initiative for all public health institutions has also seen NBSZ adjust its collections target upwards and has targeted to collect 108,405 units of blood in 2019. Blood user fees are set in consultation with the Ministry of Health & Child Care.
“NBSZ has never pegged user fees at $254 as mentioned in the article. Prior to blood being free; January 2017 to October 2017 fees were pegged at $100.
“November 2017 – December 2017 fees were reduced to $80. January 2018 – June 2018 fees were further reduced to $50. July, blood became free for all public health institutions. Private health institutions fees are pegged at $120 per unit of blood.
“NBSZ sincerely apologies to members of the public and health institutions for any panics that may have been caused by the misrepresentations in the article and will endeavour to educate the public and media on the blood bank system and its operations”
NBSZ kicked off the year with a series of blood collection drives meant to beef stocks at a national a level to avoid any shortages. To date, the blood bank has held the Valentines as well as the Men’s Splash blood drives which were both oversubscribed.
Meanwhile, NBSZ says it will soon be holding media sensitization workshops to equip health reporters, news reporters and editors with knowledge around reporting on blood and blood related issues.