Sat, 08 Apr 2000

PMI lacks funds to supply blood

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Red Cross is seeking more funds to overcome blood supply expenses, its top executive said on Friday.

Chairman Mar'ie Muhammad said the Red Cross (PMI) had to spend Rp 70 billion annually on blood supplies alone. He was speaking to reporters after the opening of a one-day seminar commemorating World Health Day, which falls on April 7.

In its annual three-month fund raising period of 1998, PMI only collected Rp 6.5 billion, an official said.

Mar'ie, who was voted by PMI members on Nov. 30 to replace former president Soeharto's eldest daughter, Siti Hardijanti Rukmana, said while blood was freely obtained from donors, PMI still had to pay for services, such as processing and storage, before blood became publicly available.

Necessary materials, such as reagents, used to check whether blood is free of syphilis, hepatitis B and C and HIV, are still imported.

Mar'ie said that PMI so far had no intention of increasing the service cost further, adding that he would urge the government to increase their funding from the annual sum of Rp 360 million.

As of late last year patients paid Rp 17,500 at government hospitals and Rp 52,500 at private institutions for vials of blood, each containing 300 cc.

The fee is now Rp 22,500 for government hospitals and Rp 67,500 for private institutions.

Mar'ie said that often the hospitals were unable to pay the service costs to PMI because patients, especially those at public hospitals, could not afford it.

"We hope that high income patients will pay higher than the service cost to cross-subsidize the poor," Mar'ie said.

The costs paid by PMI reached Rp 105,000 for every vial of blood, Mar'ie said. Apart from this, PMI also had to pay its employees, he added.

Minister of Health Achmad Sujudi, who opened the seminar, said that the government had subsidized PMI with a "large" amount of money, but said he had forgotten the figure.

People have raised complaints about the need to pay for the blood, apart from paying for transfusions at hospitals, despite the fact that PMI has been periodically collecting funds.

The funds include compulsory contributions added to utility bills such as electricity, water and telephone bills. Other "contributions" include Rp 200 added to cinema tickets.

Mar'ie said PMI currently supplied 1.3 million vials annually, presuming the supplies would be doubled in five years. (08)