National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has dismissed reports circulating on social media on the user fees for blood products and cost of consumables for patients accessing treatment from non-private wards of public hospitals, patients in private wards of public institutions and patients in all private institutions.
NBSZ public affairs manager, Esther Massundah, said blood products are free of charge to patients accessing treatment from non-private wards of public health institutions only.
“NBSZ wishes to clarify the correct position to members of the public that blood and blood products are available free of charge to patients accessing treatment from non-private wards of public hospitals only.
“User fees for blood will be charged for patients in all private heal institutions and in private wards of public institutions, as well as those for all those on medical aid cover.
“Institutions such as council clinics or hospitals are not covered under this facility and can engage the Ministry of Health and Child Care should they wish to access the facility,” she said.
Massundah said the cost of producing a safe unit of blood is US$120, which is recovered at the equivalent prevailing rate.
“This production cost has been the same for the past five years and this is the very same fee that the Government is paying to the NBSZ for every unit of product that is issued to a patient in the public institutions.
“It is not different from the fee that is levied to private hospitals because the blood products are of the exact same quality all rounding.
“Whilst blood is donated for free, there is a value chain between its donation and transfusion to the patient, and this value chain costs US$120, an amount that NBSZ is recovering from the user in order to continue operating as a going concern.
“There is no profit that is made from blood and the financial are publicly available for scrutiny as testament to this.
“The Government of Zimbabwe decided to introduce the free blood initiative in July 2018 and thus, the Government pays NBSZ the full amount for every unit utilised in the public health institutions.
“Unfortunately, due to the current strike by doctors, access to health care in these institutions has been limited resulting in some patients having to access health facilities in private health institutions which is very costly and beyond reach, if the expenses are not covered by the medical aid.”
Massundah urged the public to frequently check the NBSZ website so as to have authentic information.
“NBSZ encourages members of the public to visit our website and other digital platforms for information pertaining to its services.
“Anyone who would want to view the costing model in order to understand how the fee 0f US$120 comes about is free to contact us.”