Blood now free: Parirenyatwa

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Government has scrapped fees for blood as it reaps rewards from the launch of the Health Levy Fund, Health and Child Care minister, David Parirenyatwa has said.
Speaking during the launch of the Zimbabwe National Health Financing Policy (HFP) and the Zimbabwe Health Financing Strategy 2017 at Murehwa District Hospital on Wednesday, Parirenyatwa said with effect from July 1 this year, blood will be for free in all public hospitals.

BY Jairos Saunyama

“We introduced the Health Levy Fund in which every 5 cents from a dollar worth of airtime is channelled towards that fund. We have raised about $20m and I urge people to make calls a lot. Because of this levy, as from July 1, blood will be for free, absolutely free. It is a relief to the pregnant women and those injured in road accidents who need blood the most,” he said.

Government in January reduced the price of blood from $80 to $50 per unit. The price used to be around $135 per pint which, a figure which was beyond the reach of most Zimbabweans.

Parirenyatwa said the HFP was meant to address myriad of the challenges bedevilling the health system.

“Notably is the fact that Zimbabwe is behind in meeting the Abuja Declaration of allocating 15% of the government’s budget towards health. Health insurance covers less than 10% of the population, an out of pocket expenditure of over 39% of all health expenditure leading to financial impoverishment for many Zimbabweans.

“The current per capita level of government funding at $25 is well below the Chatham House estimated $86 needed to provide an essential benefit package in low and middle income countries. Old and emerging diseases continue to take toll on current resources,” he said.

Parirenyatwa said the health sector required $1,3 billion to be fully functional. He also revealed that Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has agreed to allocate the needed 15% of the National Budget towards the Health ministry.