THE National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has shut down its Hwange branch citing viability challenges, forcing residents of Matabeleland North province to buy blood supplies from Bulawayo or neighbouring Zambia, Southern Eye has learnt.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
NBSZ chief executive officer Lucy Marowa said the branch was making a loss and it was not viable to keep it open.
“We faced some viability challenges and we had no option but to close the branch. However, we are trying to make some arrangements with Hwange Hospital to mitigate that,” she said.
Hwange blood donor committee chairperson Maurice Mudhombo said the branch, which was serving people from Victoria Falls, Hwange and other areas, was closed in December last year.
“Yes, it was closed on December 31 last year and the reasons were not convincing. They only cited viability challenges. However, since the closure of the Hwange branch, which was serving Matabeleland North region, people were left vulnerable. Some drive from as far as Victoria Falls to get blood in Bulawayo,” Mudhombo said.
“Blood cannot be manufactured and it has to come from people. Hwange residents were very supportive, and for them to close it citing viability challenges was not convincing. We feel that people from this part of the country are being marginalised. We fear that people would start importing blood from neighbouring ountries, something that is not safe.”
Some residents in Victoria Falls said they were now importing blood from Zambia at a low cost.
“We are now importing blood from Zambia because we are left with no option. One pint of blood (group O) costs $50,” one villager who preferred anonymity said.
However, Mudhombo said it was not safe for people to import blood from Zambia as blood needed to be screened first.
“We can’t say that blood is safe,” he said.
He questioned the logic behind the closure of the branch.
“Why didn’t they close other areas and leave Hwange? For example, Gweru and Masvingo have got branches yet the distance between the two is very short compared to Victoria Falls and Bulawayo. They are being insincere. Government should chip in. NBSZ was supposed to consult first before doing that. There wasn’t any notice to the people and to the donors themselves. People were shocked,” Mudhombo said.