Locals import blood from Zambia
23 June 2016
HIGH cost of blood in this country has forced locals to import blood from the neighbouring Zambia.
Relatives of patients in Victoria Falls, Hwange and surrounding areas are importing blood from Zambia to save their kin where the precious liquid costs US$50 as compared to around US$200 in Zimbabwe.
Legislators from Matabeleland North revealed this during a tour of the National Blood Service Zimbabwe by the Health and Child Care Parliamentary Portfolio Committee expressing concern that this was a push factor for the importation of blood.
â€œWhat is your role in this country when we have people crossing to Zambia with cooler boxes to buy blood as they fight to save their relatives?
â€œRelatives have to run with cooler boxes from Victoria Falls, Hwange and surrounding areas to get blood in Zambia because it is way cheaper there,â€ quizzed Binga North legislator Prince Sibanda.
Chair of the Health Committee Dr Ruth Labode also concurred that the shortage and high cost of blood in those areas was forcing them to buy it in Zambia.
â€œCan you explain to me why blood is very expensive in Matabeleland than it is here in Harare? You are telling me that you sell the product at US$120 to hospitals and they then put a margin of about 15 percent, but this is not true because in so many occasions I have bought blood for about US$200.
â€œThis cost has made people opt to get it in Zambia where it is cheaper than in this country,â€ she said.
During the briefing before the tour, Dr Labode requested to see an audit report from NBSZ as she asked to know who their auditors are.
â€œI certainly need to know who your auditors are on behalf of this committee and please may you avail top us your audit report.â€
In response to this concern of blood challenges in the province, NBSZ chief executive officer Lucy Marowa said they will set up a distribution center at Colliery hospital or Victoria Falls to ease the challenges.
She however argued that the fact that people were importing blood from Zambia also reflected how porous our borders were.
â€œBecause of the porosity of our borders, that is beyond us. We also plead with you honourables to help us on this one.
â€œYes we know that blood is indeed cheaper in Zambia than in Zimbabwe but it because they are well subsidised by their Government. As for the audit report that you requested, we will avail it to your committee.
â€œWe have engaged the Hwange community so that we can find out how we can set up a distribution center at the Colliery hospital or Victoria Falls hospital. â€œThe intension is to set up a place where we can simply send blood to and then hospitals can collect blood from there,â€ she said.
The acting principal director for curative services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Douglas Mangwanya confirmed that they were aware that people were buying blood from Zambia and were also worried about this a as ministry.
â€œWe are seized with the matter and this is something that really worries us. We have engaged the NBSZ over this matter on why blood is cheaper in Zambia than Zimbabwe and they argue that Zambia had managed to sell it for
US $50 because they are subsidised by their Government,â€ he said.