Blood prices up for private hospitals

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Helen Kadirire
STAFF WRITER
kadirireh@dailynews.co.zw

THE National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has raised their blood prices for private hospitals and clinics with doctors arguing that it is now beyond the reach of ordinary citizens.

According to the list, a packed cell including grouping, screening and cross match now costs $10 150 for one unit, $19 250 for two units and five units cost $55 650.

NBSZ public relations manager Esther Masunda confirmed that the list circulating on social media was true.

“The blood at public institutions is for free, people do not pay. This is a price list for private health institutions only,” Masunda said.

In December last year, NBSZ increased the blood price for private patients to $2 160 for a unit of blood following an adjustment to the user fees using the interbank rate.

The list also includes the amount to be paid for immunoglobulins, with Anti D rhesugam costing $8 050, while 50 millilitres of albumin 20 percent will cost $3 850 and 100ml will cost $7 350. Anti-D is a powerful antibody that protects babies from Rhesus D Haemolytic Disease of the foetus and new-born, or HDN, a disease in which a mother’s body creates an antibody that destroys her unborn child’s red blood cells.

“A paediatric blood pack will cost $4 200, platelet concentrate $6 300, platelet concentrate apheresis $37 800, fresh frozen plasma $6 300 and cryoprecipitate $6 300. Vene test will cost $350, group and screen $1 050, therapeutic bleed initial $4 410, therapeutic bleed subsequent $3 500, therapeutic bleed exchange $25 900, direct blood coombs test $1 050, full blood count $2 100, anti-body investigation $3 150, cancellation per order $700 and after hour service $700, while the anti-haemophilic factor 500 IU will cost $18 200,” read part of the list.

Senior Hospital Doctors Association president Shingai Nyaguse told the Daily News yesterday that they were still waiting to get feedback on how the NBSZ got to such high figures for their blood. She said blood was an essential service which everyone required despite being admitted at a private or public health facility.

“We are looking into how this figure came about but the bottom line is it is too high regardless of where the patient is being treated. Right now, we are urging government to look into ways of subsidising the blood also at private institutions to make it more accessible. In the long run, they should look into ways of maybe reducing the import duties on consumable used to treat the blood for patient use,” she said.

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights secretary-general Norman Matara said the high cost of blood and other blood products is a direct violation of the right to health and excluded everyone from accessing that right.

He said these recent prices mean we are essentially sentencing people who need these services to death despite the need for blood to be affordable and available to every Zimbabwean citizen in need of it.

The doctor, however, stated that for the NBSZ to function normally and produce safe quality blood products, they need more funding.

“Reducing the cost of blood without financially supporting the NBSZ will result in shortage of materials needed to process blood, resulting in the product being unavailable to patients who need it. Instead, the government should invest and financially support the NBSZ, such that they heavily subsidise the cost of processing blood and in the process remove the burden from the end user, which is the patient. This will make sure that we have a viable NBSZ capable of producing quality and safe blood products which are always available and affordable to the citizens of Zimbabwe,” Matara said.

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