Parly decries underfunding of blood processing services

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care has decried the underfunding of blood processing in Zimbabwe, a situation that makes it unaffordable to many patients.

A single unit of blood costs US$100 and US$120 at public and private health facilities respectively.

Presenting the Health and Child Care 2022 budget analysis in Parliament Tuesday, Portfolio chairperson, Ruth Labode bemoaned the government’s failure to adequately fund the processing of the lifesaving commodity.

“The Committee is concerned that the blood and blood products sub-programme is grossly underfunded,” lamented Labode.

“It only received funding of ZWL$583.6 million (or 39% of its requirements) against a bid of ZWL$1.5 billion. This is a critical area in the treatment of patients and needs adequate funding to guarantee stable blood supply to hospitals.”

She went on further to say: “More so, the cost of screening blood is very high in Zimbabwe, making it unaffordable to patients. It is the Committee’s concern that the supply of blood in Zimbabwe has been left in the hands of a non-governmental organization, the National Blood Service Zimbabwe and not under a government agency.”

The Ministry of Health and Child Care received an allocation of ZWL$117.7 billion in the 2022 national budget up from ZWL$54.7 billion allocated in 2021.

“This allocation represents a 115.17% nominal increase to what was allocated in the previous budget,” said Labode.

“It further represents a 12.16% share of the national budget indicating a marginal decline from 12.87% achieved in 2021 and not 14.9% as presented by the Minister of Finance in his 2022 National Budget Statement.

Allocation to the Ministry of Health was ranked third after the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture.

As part of its recommendations, the committee urged the government to eliminate inefficiencies in blood screening and review the legal status of the National Blood Services and attach it to a local university.

“The committee recommends a study tour to the University of Zambia that has a similar structure that is functioning very well and supplying blood at half the cost of what is prevailing in Zimbabwe,” said Labode

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