GOVERNMENT has said blood will now be offered free of charge to patients at public health institutions and mission hospitals with immediate effect. The scraping of fees for the life saving commodity follows President Mnangagwa’s directive to scrap associated charges last year.
Patients had since January been paying $50 per pint down from $250 per pint.
Health and Child Care Ministry Secretary, Dr Gerald Gwinji, in an audio posted by the National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) on its micro-blogging site Twitter, said the scraping of user fees for blood takes effect on July 1 after the realisation that most patients were failing to buy it during times of need.
“Blood is a precious commodity particularly to those who need it and have been involved in road traffic accidents or mothers who are delivering and they lose a lot of blood,” he said.
“It is, therefore, critical that this commodity be available freely as quickly as possible when one needs it.
“What we have heard over the years is that due to circumstances clients or patients had to buy blood from the National Blood Services or from our institutions after they themselves would have bought it from the National Blood Services, this resulted in some patients requiring this critical commodity failing to access it and suffering adverse effects in their health.”
Dr Gwinji said his ministry had invested about $7 million to subsidise the cost of blood.
“What we have decided as Government is to make blood freely available at all public health institutions and this now includes all women who are pregnant, women with complications in delivery, it includes children and anybody who needs blood to be given to them at any of our public health institutions,” he said.
“We have this year invested slightly under $7 million in order to make this happen and we are glad that at the beginning of this year we started with the reduction to 50 percent of the original cost.
“We had promised that we would put resources together so that by the 1st of July going forward we would make this commodity completely freely available in our institutions and I’m glad that this is now happening and we are really looking forward to ease the discomfort that a lot of our clients were facing when they required to access blood.”
The NBSZ says the subsidy is not applicable to patients on medical aid or private patients in Government institutions.
Mpilo Clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said the move was welcome as it helped save lives.
“At Mpilo, blood is already free for mothers and children under five-years-old and over 65s,” he said.
“We are waiting to implement the new policy that blood is free for everyone and we welcome it very much as it would save thousands of lives.”