THE Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) says it is working to boost domestic financial resources to complement the health levy in a bid to finance the free blood subsidy which was initiated by government in 2018.
By Michael Gwarisa recently in Chimanimani
The development comes at the back of indications that the health levy has racked in not less than ZW$63 million since inception in 2017.
Speaking at the belated World Blood Donor Day (WBD) 2019 commemorations in Chimanimani, Manicaland Provincial Medical Director (PMD), Dr Patron Mafaune said the free blood initiative could only be maintained through consistent financial support from domestic resources.
As the MoHCC, we are pleased by the work being done by the National Blood Service of Zimbabwe (NBSZ). As a health ministry, our health institutions are the biggest stakeholders and biggest consumers of blood and blood products the NBSZ would have collected.
“As you know, blood is now free at all public health institutions. Government subsidised the cost of blood and the money being used is coming from the health levy where 10% is being deducted from every call you would have made with your mobile phone. The ministry of health is trying its best to explore other avenues to ensure we get more financial resources so that the free blood initiative continues without any challenges,” said Dr Mafaune.
She also said the NBSZ is among one of the few countries whose blood and blood products are of high standard and safe for transfusion, adding that some 13 countries came through to Zimbabwe to learn how the NBSZ manages to produce such products. She also said the NBSZ is in urgent need of recapitalisation so that they can invest in the latest technologies in blood banking.
NBSZ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ms Lucy Marowa said there was need to scale up blood collection efforts so as to support the free blood initiatives since demand for blood and blood products has now gone up.
“The theme for the World Blood Donor Day for this year, strongly encourages more people from all over the world to become blood donors and to donate blood regularly. This also requires us as an organisation to work hard in the recruitment activities.
“It has been just over year since the free blood initiative was introduced by government in July 2018. As NBSZ we now have a task of ensuring the blood bank is adequately stocked at all times so that whoever needs blood gets it on time. This is only possible if we come together as a nation and donate blood in our numbers,” said Ms Marowa.
The NBSZ targets to collect 108 400 units of blood which is an increase from the 82 257 units that was collected in 2018.
“We know that a lot of work still needs to be done in educating the different communities and to demystify the myths surrounding blood donations. We are going to be raising awareness in communities to ensure correct information goes into the communities.”
Meanwhile, the commemorations coincided with the handover of donations to the Cyclone Idai affected schools in Chimanimani where a number of the schools were affected.
“School children contribute over 70% of our blood collections annually. When the Cyclone Idai came, it damaged six of the schools from which we collect blood. This is why for the 2019 World Blood Donor Day, we have found it befitting to come to Chimanimani to be in solidarity with those communities that were affected.
“It is our time as the NBSZ to give back to the community and stand with our fellow citizens in their time of need,” said Ms Marowa.
The mobilising of resources for Cyclone Idai was done in three phases where phase one was the collection of material contributions from
Mutare blood service and these goods have already been handed over to the various communities that were affected.
Products that were mobilised during phase two were handed over in Chimanimani other the weekend by NBSZ officials, government officials, and NBSZ partners Netone, Econet and Schweppes.