Govt sub­sidises blood prices

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - De­bra Matabvu

A PINT of blood in Zim­babwe will from this week go down to at least US$80 fol­low­ing in­tro­duc­tion of a State sub­sidy to cush­ion pa­tients.

The price ap­plies to both pub­lic and pri­vate hos­pi­tals which have been charg­ing US$100 and US$120 per pint re­spec­tively.

This will bring the price in line with re­gional trends and make blood trans­fu­sion more af­ford­able.

Health and Child Care Min­is­ter Dr David Parireny­atwa told The Sun­day Mail last week that au­thor­i­ties had en­gaged the Na­tional Blood Ser­vices of Zim­babwe over the mat­ter.

He said, “The high cost of blood and blood prod­ucts in Zim­babwe has, for a long time now, been a mat­ter of con­cern for both Gov­ern­ment and pa­tients. Cur­rently, the price of blood (packed cells) is US$100 for pub­lic sec­tor pa­tients and US$120 for pri­vate pa­tients.

“Th­ese fig­ures are clearly ex­or­bi­tant and out of reach for most peo­ple, es­pe­cially in this harsh en­vi­ron­ment. Our vi­sion is to have a sit­u­a­tion where blood is pro­vided cost-free to the con­sumer in the medium to long-term.

“As a start, we have, there­fore, in­structed NBSZ to come up with mea­sures through stream­lin­ing of their op­er­a­tions in re­la­tion to the cost driv­ers, for ex­am­ple, op­er­a­tional and hu­man re­sources cost, to re­duce the price for a unit of blood to at most US$80. This will be done with­out com­pro­mis­ing stan­dards and qual­ity of their prod­uct.”

Dr Parireny­atwa added: “Lessons can be taken from other coun­tries on how this can be done safely with sup­port from Gov­ern­ment and other part­ners and also through im­proved op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency.

“We, there­fore, ex­pect to see a re­duc­tion in the price of blood to US$80 by 1st of Novem­ber 2017 with­out fail. As Gov­ern­ment, we are con­cerned by news that some pa­tients, out of des­per­a­tion, likely caused by the high price of blood, are im­port­ing blood and blood prod­ucts from neigh­bour­ing Zam­bia.

“This is against the law. We dis­cour­age such prac­tices as the safety of the im­ported blood can­not be guar­an­teed. We do not know from whom the blood has been col­lected, whether the req­ui­site tests, in­clud­ing screen­ing for such mi­cro-or­gan­isms as HIV, syphilis has been done in a certified lab­o­ra­tory by a reg­is­tered and recog­nised in­sti­tu­tion in that coun­try.”

In South Africa, a unit costs R2 000 (roughly US$270), but the gov­ern­ment there cov­ers the en­tire sum on be­half of pa­tients. A pint goes for US$50 to US$85 in Zam­bia and Malawi.

In June 2016, tje NBSZ re­duced the price of blood from US$135 (pub­lic sec­tor) and US$161 (pri­vate sec­tor) to US$120 and US$140 re­spec­tively. The prices were fur­ther re­duced to US$100 and US$120 in Septem­ber of that year.

Dr Parireny­atwa

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