THE Ministry of Health and Child Care Permanent Secretary, Dr Agnes Mahomva has professed ignorance as to how much and when they will be disbursing their 2019 allocation towards the free blood initiative, a situation which poses a threat to the continuation of the program.
By Michael Gwarisa
In 2018, government committed to financing the free blood initiative through funding from the health levy which was introduced in 2017 under the then minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa’s administration.
However, indications on the ground are that since beginning of the year, no money has been disbursed to the National Blood Service of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) to facilitate the free blood initiative despite the fact that it is being financed locally from the health levy which has raked in ZWL63 million since inception in 2017.
In an interview with HealthTimes, Dr Mahomva cited the lack of foreign currency as the major delay behind the disbursement of their 2019 allocation to the NBSZ to subsidise the free blood program.
“It’s true, as government we support all these institutions that provide such services the challenge. The challenge that we have is more to do with forex.
“Some of the things that they do require foreign currency and some of it is beyond ourselves but we continue working with them and pushing them where we can inorder for them to be covered appropriately so that they do not run out of such a critical and essential commodity,” said Dr Mahomva.
Quizzed on how much they would allocate NBSZ for the year 2019, the perm sec however remained mum on the issue.
In 2018 the Zimbabwean Government injected a $4, 2 million subsidy into the NBSZ, bringing down the cost user fees of blood to $50 in January 2018.
“We might have some local currency but the commodities they require might need foreign currency so we work with those teams whether it’s NBSZ, National Aids Council (NAC). We work closely with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the powers that be to ensure that is all is provided in a timely fashion.
“We work as teams and we are appreciating the challenges that Zimbabwe is facing they are no two ways about. We will do the best we can to get that addressed.”
A survey conducted by HealthTimes in most health institutions indicate that hospitals are battling with the huge demand for blood and blood products and should government continue withholding funding for the program, the NBSZ could be incapacitated to continue delivering and meeting the demand.
Meanwhile, the NBSZ targets to collect 108, 405 units of blood in 2019 to beef up blood stocks. However, a number a obstacles stand in their way which include the persistent power outages which might force them to discard affected blood as well as the lack of government’s commitment to fulfil their side of the bargain.