By Staff Reporter
LATE payments to the National Blood Services of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) for blood and other products supplied to government hospitals have adversely impacted operations at the organisation and nearly brought to its knees.
NBSZ sources have warned that, if not addressed urgently, there would be a shortage of blood for accident victims during the forthcoming Heroes holiday which usually records highest crash figures.
Government owes NBSZ over ZW$567 million for the free blood facility, while the blood bank is in arrears of ZWL$155.6 million in terms of obligations to local creditors.
The state of affairs is threatening government’s free blood policy in all public health institutions introduced 2018.
The NBSZ management and board this week presented a dossier to the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) raising the red flag over the deteriorating situation at the national blood bank.
“Despite successfully implementing its side of the free blood initiative, the operational viability of the service is now being threatened by funding constraints due to failure by MoHCC to honour payments on time,” reads the report seen by NewZimbabwe.com.
“The government debt for free blood initiative has ballooned to ZWL$567,153,323.86 as at 30 June 2022.
“The delays in payment have affected working capital and the ability of the Service to fulfil payments to suppliers of critical raw materials and consumables and to settle statutory obligations.”
NBSZ has reportedly suffered huge losses of over US$2,7 million on settlement of invoices by MoHCC due to soaring exchange rates.
It owes a total of US$1.37 million to foreign suppliers and can no longer access critical consumables for the smooth operation of the organisation as credit facilities have been suspended due to non-payment.
NBSZ is bidding for foreign currency at the central banks auction system like any other company.
“Supplies of critical raw materials such as blood bags, blood grouping reagents, and chemicals required for screening blood remain critically below minimum order,” stated the report.
“NBSZ is facing recapitalisation challenges, with some of the equipment constantly breaking down due to excessive wear and tear.”
In order for the Service to function efficiently, management and the board have prescribed rebasing outstanding invoices in forex to compensate for value loss and improve ability to meet international payments for critical raw materials.
Further, it was also recommended to immediately suspend all credit facilities in the local currency offered to private health institutions.
Also proposed was a forex-denominated levy on all products and services supplied to private hospitals.
Staff morale at NBSZ is reportedly at its lowest in the wake of late salary payments caused by recurrent garnishee orders by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and National Social Security Authority (NSSA) for outstanding statutory obligations.
NBSZ communications officer, Kuda Chidziya, professed ignorance over the report when NewZimbabwe.com sought comment, saying he was on leave.