June 30, 2022, 8:35 pm

Staff Correspondent

2022-04-27 10:53:56 BdST

Dr Atiur for hike in health budget to lower medicare cost

The government needs to increase health sector budget to help citizens get rid of “out of pocket” health expenditure burden, former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr Atiur Rahman said. 

He cited that of the total health expenditure in Bangladesh, 73 percent comes from the pockets of the citizens and the remaining 27 percent is borne from the health budget.  

Usually more or less 5 percent of the national budget is allocated for health sector. Dr Rahman urged to raise it to 7 to 8 percent in FY23 budget increase further to 10 to 12 percent in the medium term. 

He made the call while speaking at an online discussion session titled ‘National Policy Dialogue on Health Budget,’ organised by non-government think tank Unnayan Shamannay, says a release. 

Lawmakers AFM Ruhal Haque, Pankaj Nath, Md Amirul Alam, Lutfun Nesa Kan, and Aroma Dutta took part at the online budget discussion.  

BIDS Director General- Dr Binayak Sen, Dhaka University Professor Dr Syed Abdul Hamid, and eminent sociologist Khondoker Shakhawat Ali took part as specialist discussants. 

On behalf of Unnayan Shamannay, Dr Atiur presented proposals about increasing budget allocation for the health sector along with specific proposals for increasing allocations for development projects, allocations for primary healthcare and for medicine provided free of cost at government-run healthcare facilities. 

Lawmaker Aroma Dutta agreed that increasing allocations for free distribution of medicine can reduce the financial pressure on the lower income households to a significant extent. 

About a significant share of development allocations for the health sector remaining unspent, Lutfun Nesa, opined that enhancing overall management quality and governance is required to overcome this challenge. 
In this regard, Dr Atiur reminded that certain ministries already have a good track record of development spending, and the ministry of health can take learn from those experiences. 

Former health minister- Ruhal Haque proposed to start thinking about developing a separate health cadre for the public service to ensure better management of the health sector. 

Dr. Binayak Sen, in his remarks, drew attention to the idea of health insurance schemes for poor and lower-middle income households not being viable enough at the moment, and urged to start planning about a universal healthcare programme for these segments of the population. 

The online dialogue session was moderated by Unnayan Shamannay’s senior project coordinator Shaheen Ul Alam. 

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