NBSZ Engages UAE Delegation Over Critical Blood Essentials

THE National Blood Services of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has presented its five key priority areas to the visiting United Arab Emirates (UAE) delegation in a move meant to improve the organisation’s operating capacity and service delivery.

By Michael Gwarisa

Making a presentation to the UAE delegation, NBSZ Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Lucy Marowa said the organisation had five key priority areas which require urgent attention. These include Cold chain equipment (freezers, fridges, cold rooms, blood transportation boxes), blood collection vehicles, floor standing centrifuges/refrigerates centrifuges, Blood collection bags and testing kits.

“Inconsistency and unreliability of funding makes NBSZ fail to respond to the public health needs. National partners do not commit funds over a long time horizon.

“Current costing model for blood does not cover critical laboratory and clinical equipment. The other challenge we have is lack of foreign currency to procure equipment and refurbishment of laboratories to meet minimum international standards for blood banking,” said Ms Marowa.

From the top priority list, a total of 20 refrigerated Centrifuge (Floor standing),  Platelet Agitators 12,  Hemoflow Scales 60,  Motor Vehicles (Mobile Teams) 16,  Blast Freezers 8,  Apheresis Machines 10,  Deionizer 4,  Inverted Microscopes 10, Blood Bank refrigerators(stand alone) 25,  Walk-in Cold rooms and Freezers (4mx3m) 12,  and 35 AutomatedPlasma Separators are required.

On the infrastructure list, a total of 108, 400 Triple Blood collection Bags 450ml are required and 108, 400 Abbott Alinity testing reagents,  Neo Iris Blood Grouping reagents 108,400, 100 Blood Collection Boxes, 20,000 Blood Bank reagents (Anti-Sera,reagent cells) , 300, 000 Blood Collection Tubes (EDTA and Plain), 11, 000 Blood Donor Screening reagents (Heamocue, Heachroma), 10, 800 Pediatric packs, 10, 000 Buffy coat Platelet pooling kit, 10 Sterile Docking Device 10. She added that 70% of NBSZ’s cold chain equipment is more than 20 years old and regular breakdowns are costly to manage and repairs and maintenance are no longer economically viable.

“NBSZ’s plan is to manage the cold chain from blood collection point to the bedside and this requires procurement of fridges for hospitals and NBSZ centres, blast freezers for component preparation labs (centres), cold and freezer rooms for NBSZ centres and blood transportation boxes for NBSZ and hospitals,” said Ms Marowa.

Ms Marowa also briefed the delegation on strides  taken by government to cushion citizens from the prevailing economic crisis.

“The Socio-economic status curtails the ability of patients to pay for blood and blood products and MoHCC has introduced facilities for accessing blood products to patients with affordability challenges. Donor funding was mainly directed to women and vulnerable children.”

Meanwhile, the blood bank is also facing challenge that there is the ordering of only blood group O by hospitals due to unavailability of reagents and equipment for cross matching by transfusing facilities or institutions.

“NBSZ is able to meet the needs of hospitals, in terms of number of units required, if ordered in the right ratios . There is greater number of expired units in stock with artificial shortages experienced if only one blood group is demanded.

“Hospital laboratories must be equipped and staffed to offer optimal services. Patients need to be assisted to access and pay for the products and services.”

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