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National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) selling blood below cost

by Staff reporter
09 Apr 2012 at 04:49hrs | Views
THE National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) is selling donated blood at well below the cost of testing, processing and storing each unit and has to rely on grants and aid schemes. NBSZ public affairs manager, Ms Esther Massundah, said funding for the non-profit-making organisation was originally based on cost recovery but the selling price was now far below production costs.

"The NBSZ is actually operating at below cost recovery because the price of blood is below the production costs. You will see that production costs for a pint of blood is about US$130, yet we are selling the same unit at the least price of US$50," Ms Massundah said.

She said although in Zimbabwe blood was donated, the process of blood collection and processing is expensive. During blood collection, major funding is needed for vehicle expenses, transport cost, specimen tubes, blood bags and refreshments for the donors among others.

Thereafter, the blood is taken to the laboratory where it is tested for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis. This procedure requires funding. Other processes requiring money include blood grouping, quality control checks and administration costs.

All these services require capital of at least US$130 to come up with a pint of blood that is safe for transfusion.

Despite this cost, NBSZ has pegged the price of a unit of blood at US$50 at mission hospitals, US$65 to Government institutions and US$105 to private institutions. Asked how then NBSZ was surviving if the cost of blood was less than production costs, Ms Massundah said they were receiving grants from Government and National Aids Council (NAC) and donors such as Expanded Support Programme (ESP) and United States Government's PEPFAR.

"The support from grants has enabled NBSZ to reduce the fees to almost half the production costs for patients attending public institutions.

"However, the grant from Government is disbursed depending on availability, if there is no funding no disbursements are done or they are delayed. Same as funding from donor organisation it is not dependable as they might also choose to withdraw their assistance. As NBSZ, we need a fallback when these organisations fail to avail funds to us," she said.

Meanwhile, NBSZ chief executive officer David Mvere, called on Government to adequately fund the organisation for it to fulfil its mandate. Speaking at NBSZ fundraising event held in Harare recently, Mvere said the only way NBSZ could recover production costs was by increasing the cost of blood so that it meets at least 100 percent of production costs, thus US$129,11.

He said this would, however, impact negatively on procurement of safe blood, which ultimately defeat the objective of NBSZ to supply safe blood to all in need.

Source - TH