Press Statement

National Blood Service (NBSZ) Press Statement in response to print media articles in the Herald publications of 23 October, 2017 titled "Blood scandal exposed at NBSZ" and 25 October 2017 titled "NBSZ clears air on company status"​

REGISTRATION STATUS OF THE NBSZ​

The NBSZ is a not-for-profit company registered under section 26 of the Companies Act CAP 24:03. In 1958 the Salisbury and District Blood Transfusion Service was established as a not-for-profit company under the Companies Act. Similarly, the Bulawayo and District Blood Transfusion Service was later established in 1960. In order to ensure conformity of practice and to provide a cost effective national blood service, there was an amalgamation of the Bulawayo and the Harare operations, which led to the formation of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) in 1989, which was registered as a section 26 company. The structure, function and delegated responsibility to NBSZ by the Ministry of Health and Child Care follows the World Health Organisation, World Health (WHO) Assembly Resolution (WHA28.72 of 1975), which URGES Member States:

  1. to promote the development of national blood services based on voluntary non-remunerated donation of blood; and
  2. to enact effective legislation governing the operation of blood services and to take other actions necessary to protect and promote the health of blood donors and of recipients of blood and blood products.

NBSZ refutes allegations in the Herald publication of 23 October 2017 that its registration status changed to a private limited company in 2013. The registration status of the NBSZ has not been changed but instead, in 2013 the CR14 form was updated to reflect the sitting directors at that time and the name of the organisation was erroneously written as NBSZ (Private) Limited. This error went undetected to date and it is understandable why this would mislead the public into believing that there was a change in the registration status. A change in the registration of the company requires a special resolution by the members, followed by authorization from the Minister of Justice upon presentation of revised articles and memorandum, since the company is registered under section 26 of the Companies Act. At no time did such a process transpire since the formation of the NBSZ. We are therefore currently rectifying this error by updating the CR14 form with details of current directors and will file the updated form with the corrected name of the organisation. This process should be completed within the first week of November. The correct CR14 will be published through the print media for the public to see.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM GOVERNMENT

NBSZ has received support from Government through the facilitation of project specific funding from the European Union, Health Development Fund, PEPFAR, UNICEF, National Aids Council and others which require Government to Government agreements. At present, National Aids Council provides a yearly grant of varying amounts to the NBSZ and, in addition, the Health Development Fund pays NBSZ directly for products consumed by maternity cases in all the public health institutions. These donations have been instrumental in reducing the cost of blood or promoting user access to the products. The annual grant from the National Aids Council is not paid in cash. It is received in the form of supplies of equipment such as blood service test kits, blood bags etc. The funds are well acknowledged in NBSZ financial statements that can be accessed from the NBSZ website and in the annual reports. Support from Government in accessing these funds or supplies is testimony to the fact that the registration status of NBSZ is above board and the institution is serving national interests on behalf of the Government, which remains overall in charge of all health aspects in the nation.

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

NBSZ acknowledges the issues of corporate governance that have been raised in relation to the Board. The concerns, which include size of the Board, skills mix, gender balance and tenure of office of Board members have been addressed through revision of the articles of the organization. These revised articles will be presented to the Blood Donor Members of the NBSZ for adoption at the next AGM/EGM at a date to be advised.

COST OF BLOOD

NBSZ is fully aware that the cost of blood remains a very challenging issue for the citizens of Zimbabwe. There is always a cost associated with the collection, processing, storage and distribution of blood and blood products, despite it being donated freely by the citizens. The reason why blood is cheaper or free in other countries for public hospitals is due to partial or complete subsidy by either the Government or the donor agencies in those respective countries, which is what is missing in Zimbabwe. However, efforts are in progress to come up with sustainable funding models together with Ministry of Health and Child Care so that the cost comes down to affordable levels.

 

Retd Justice L.G. Smith

NBSZ Board Chairman

31 October 2017

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