Ministry of Health To Present Grant Proposals For NBSZ Recapitalisation

Dr Gibson Mhlanga

THE Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) says it is working on presenting a grant proposal to treasury for the recapitalisation of the national blood bank in a bid to strengthen the organization’s operations and effectiveness, HealthTimes has learnt.

By Michael Gwarisa

The NBSZ has over the past few years been making numerous calls for recapitalisation so that they could invest in latest technologies and equipment to ensure smooth operations go uninterrupted.

Addressing participants during a Zoom Webinar conference to mark the end of the World Blood Donor day campaign, health ministry acting permanent secretary, Dr Gibson Mhlanga said the issue of financing continues to Impact negatively on the National Blood Service of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) operations hence the need for a permanent solution to the recapitalisation issue.

Looking into the future, the call to action is to address the funding challenges that are faced by the NBSZ. I am sure the presentation on the cost of blood has educated us on the cost drivers and why a user fee is charged despite the blood being donated.

“The ministry of health and child care will forward proposals on the possibility of a grant facility for the NBSZ as the need for recapitalisation is now,” said Dr Mhlanga.

He added that government would also engage funders and partners within the health sector for NBSZ’s support. Dr Mhlanga also applauded the NBSZ for adhering to world-class blood quality and safety standards during the whole blood processes even during the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite the prevailing global health pandemic of the COVID-19, blood is still needed. The government is fully behind the national blood programs at all levels and his excellency President Emerson Mnangagwa has demonstrated this by saluting blood donors in Zimbabwe for their contribution towards saving lives in the country.

“As we put a lead on the world blood donor campaign, the ministry of health would like to pay tribute to the NBSZ who are doing their best to collect blood from donors in these difficult circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not been an easy task as in the past, over 70 percent of the blood donors were in the schools which we all know are currently closed.”

To mitigate the shortages of blood during the COVID-19 induced lockdown and beyond the pandemic, the NBSZ has developed a recruitment strategy that would enable the blood bank to collect blood from different communities. This includes following up on regular donors and inviting them over to make donations under strict physical distancing and sanitisation and other World Health Organisation (WHO) set guidelines. 

He also paid tribute to the NBSZ for ensuring the blood they collect and distribute is safe and free of any form of contamination. He also said blood from the Zimbabwe blood bank is ranked the safest in the region.

Meanwhile, NBSZ Chief Executive Officer, Ms Lucy Marowa added that  blood and blood products from the national blood bank was safe and there was no scientific evidence at the moment to prove that COVID-19 could be passed through blood transfusions.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), respiratory viruses have never been reported to be transmitted through blood or blood components; therefore, any potential risk of transmission by transfusion of blood collected from asymptomatic individuals is theoretical.

They added that any actions taken to mitigate risk are therefore precautionary. Options include donor education, self-deferral or deferral of at-risk donors, quarantine of blood components, retrieval of in-date products based on a report of post-donation illness in the donor, screening of donations using laboratory tests, and pathogen reduction:

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