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Suspension of blood coupons reversed

THE National Blood Services of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has reversed its suspension of blood coupons facility after government, which owes the organisation over $125 million, released $43,5 million. BY PHYLLIS MBANJE Confirming the development, Health deputy minister John Mangwiro said they processed the payment on Wednesday. “In the future, we will pay our debts on time so that we avoid situations like this. We want to maintain this stance so that we do not inconvenience frontline workers who struggle to help the patients without enough resources,” he said. NBSZ spokesperson Esther Massundah said the money reflected in their bank account yesterday morning “Following the payment, the suspension of blood coupons has been lifted and we are back on track,” she said. She said the $43,5 million was part payment of an outstanding bill of $125 710 200. “We will be in discussion with government on a payment plan for the remaining balance. But the key issue is that the facility is back on for the public hospitals,” Massundah said. The suspension of the blood coupons was made after government failed to honour its debt. There was a public outcry as patients, particularly pregnant women and road traffic accident victims, needing blood were likely to suffer the most. The free blood policy in public hospitals was introduced in July 2018 as part of the new national health financing policy and strategy. Government at the time injected funding into the NBSZ to make blood free for all patients in public hospitals. However, in a communiqué on Monday, NBSZ finance manager Rhadhi Chikwereti said the blood bank had stopped accepting blood coupons from government health institutions with effect from July 7. The NBSZ board also resolved that the blood user fees for public institutions, medical aid societies and other health funders shall be paid for strictly in United States dollars or at an exchange rate equivalent to the Old Mutual Implied Rate or other comparable exchange rate with immediate effect.