Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
THE National Blood Services of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) is appealing to people to donate blood saying it is still grappling with shortages as the recent lowering of blood prices has resulted in increased demand.
Government lowered the price of blood from $120 per pint to $50 on January 1 and since then the NBSZ has raised a red flag over shortage of blood group 0.
Fifty percent of the country’s population has blood type O which has been in short supply for weeks and there is high demand for the blood group as it can be transfused into people from other blood groups.
However, those in the O blood group cannot be transfused with other blood groups.
NBSZ spokesperson, Mr Sifundo Ngwenya said the price reduction increased demand for blood, particularly Group 0.
“The lowering of user fees of blood came up with teething problems of the law of supply and demand. The demand is higher because the user fees is lower and as such it is giving us a torrid time in terms of making sure that this product is available.
We have however put measures in place and we focus mainly on schools, institutions or areas that give us very high number of units at a given time,” said Mr Ngwenya. “All I can say is that we are managing but the management part of it is from hand to mouth. Yes blood is coming through but the demand is higher than before and it ultimately translates to us being supposed to give as much as possible.
“So we are really appealing to people to come through so that we have adequate stocks of blood.”
Mr Ngwenya said more blood is needed ahead of the Easter Holidays and encouraged adults to donate blood as well.
“Like now we are headed to the Easter Holiday and we really need to be uptight and make sure that we get as much blood as possible,” he said.
Maternal patients and accident victims are the largest consumers of blood and blood products.
Government recently injected $4,7 million to help NBSZ subsidise blood prices. Before Government’s intervention, NBSZ, through its own cost-cutting measures, had managed to reduce the prices from $120 to $100 a pint.
The cost of blood remains high at private health institutions where it is pegged at $120. NBSZ used to give blood to hospitals on credit but it discontinued after most institutions defaulted on payments.