Source: Let’s make blood affordable – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 27, 2016
THE proposed motion to compel government to subsidise the cost of blood by two seemingly progressive legislators from across Zimbabwe’s political divide, Dextor Nduna (Chegutu West, Zanu PF) and Ruth Labode
(MDC-T Proportional Representation), should come as a relief to many Zimbabweans.
It is outrageous to contemplate that many people have been looking at their relatives helplessly pass on because they could not afford the cost of the life-saving commodity which is being priced beyond the reach of the majority.
It makes sad reading, if not alarming, that a pint of blood is going for $140 in a country whose majority is barely surviving on $1 a day.
The shockingly high cost of blood actually implies that only the economically-privileged will survive, while the rest who cannot even afford a decent meal a day are condemned to death.
Section 48 of the Constitution provides for the right to life. The right to life means the right to good health. In essence, the government is actually violating the Constitution by failing to guarantee the health of its citizens through making indispensable health products like blood affordable to many of its citizens.
Surely, a serious government which purports to be people-centred, as President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF administration would want us to believe, should prioritise and adequately resource the health sector. Blood is not a luxury.
Surprisingly, Zimbabweans see Zanu PF prioritising politically expedient programmes that benefit only a few well-connected elite feeding from Mugabe’s patronage trough.
Mugabe always preaches that his government is driven by the needs of the people, yet that still has to cascade to the grassroots. Government should be reminded that there is no other need that can surpass that for good health.
After subsidising the cost of blood, government should move to decentralise the blood bank by establishing one at all district hospitals and clinics, to make the blood more accessible to those in need of it in the countryside.
Not all people can afford bus fare to referral hospitals that remain trusted with the task of manning the blood bank. It is also time government introduced punitive measures on health institutions that refuse to give needy patients blood without prior payment. Emergency medical treatment is a fundamental human right.
There is need for government to review its health policies and evaluate how both public and private hospitals operate, including pricing, for the good of the people.
It is disturbing to see the ruling elite squandering taxpayers’ money flying endlessly out of the country for better medical care, when they are seized with formulating policies that can’t make the once vibrant health services sector effective for all.
This also applies to the distribution of drought relief food. Reports abound of cases where top Zanu PF and government officials have been implicated in partisan distribution of food aid. The latest case involves Psychomotor Activities minister Josaya Hungwe.
Zanu PF needs not be reminded that not only the politically correct have the right to life.