October 19, 2012
In Zimbabwe, the prevalence of HIV in donated blood has decreased over the past years from a high of 2 percent of the collected blood to a low of 0.7 percent, according to Zamile Musekiwa, a finance and administration manager with the National Blood Services Zimbabwe. Speaking at a function held at NBSZ in Harare recently, Musekiwa said the prevalence of HIV in donated blood has been decreasing over the years. According to 2011 statistics, only 0.7 percent of the collected blood was HIV positive. He stated that blood collections have fluctuated over the same years. "Zimbabwe had about 75,000 units in 1995, but dropped to about 42,000 in 2009. Collections have picked up again between 2010 and 2011 to over 80,000 units," reports Musekiwa. Screening is done on all donated blood for STDs, including HIV and AIDS, but consumption of blood at hospitals is lower than before because of the inadequate infrastructure and low budgets for purchasing blood products at the hospitals.
An estimated 40 percent of blood products are provided to women following complications of birth; 35 percent are used in surgery and trauma; and 25 percent are used in other medical care and pediatrics. Musekiwa stated that fees charged by the organization for a pint of blood were below production costs. He added that it costs about US $128 to produce a pint of blood, but it is sold for US $50 to government institutions. Some subsidies are provided from the government and other donors, but they do not adequately cover the recurrent and capital expenditures, stated Musekiwa. Government institutions pay US $50 for a pint of blood, mission hospitals US $65, while private institutions pay US $105. "With this financial crisis, our capacity to introduce new technology so as to improve blood products and safety is limited. Debtors are also unable to pay and a 'stop supply service' is not the first choice," Musekiwa said.