July 19, 2024, 11:22 pm

Mohammad Al Amin

2024-06-05 09:50:58 BdST

Experts for major boost to health allocation

The country’s health sector needs adequate allocation in the upcoming national budget as per the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure Universal health coverage (UHC), said experts.

According to the WHO, UHC ensures that everyone can access the full spectrum of quality health services they need, whenever and wherever they need them, without experiencing financial hardship.

“The world is off track to make significant progress towards universal health coverage (Sustainable Development Goals target 3.8 by 2030,” it added.

Some infrastructural development, along with some achievement in the country’s health sector, has taken place but proper and adequate budgetary allocation is essential for the sector to ensure quality health service for all, said the experts.

In Bangladesh, out-of-pocket expenses for treatment have risen by 1.50%, with patients now spending 68.50% of the total treatment cost. However, the government has implemented a strategy to reduce this expenditure by 32% by 2032.

“The allocation of the health budget should be at least 7% to 10% of the total national budget for the time being. And, the government has to ensure capacity building of people concerned of the health sector,” Prof Dr Rashid-E-Mahbub, chairman of the National Committee on Health Rights Movement, said

He also said the government should come out of making a routine budget for the health sector. “If the budget is customary then people will not get the benefit of the budget.”

Rashid-E-Mahbub, former president of the Bangladesh Medical Association, said that if the health budget remains customary, inflation will negate any increase in the upcoming budget.

“Bangladesh’s budgetary allocation for the health sector is lower than other countries. I demand at least 10% of the total budget for the health sector while it was only 5% last year,” Prof Dr Sharfuddin Ahmed, immediate past vice-chancellor of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said.

He also said the government at a time should increase the budgetary allocation and increase the capacity of the health sector to properly utilise the budget.

“Recruiting necessary manpower and ensuring all logistics support including necessary medical instruments a must to ensure proper healthcare for people. To this end, adequate budgetary allocation is needed for the health sector,” Sharfuddin Ahmed added.

A proposal of Tk38,052 crore allocation was placed for the health sector for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The proposed allocation was 5% of the total national budget of Tk7,61,785 crore.

Prof Dr Syed Abdul Hamid, former director of the Institute of Health Economics of Dhaka University, said the WHO recommends allocating at least 12%-15% of the budget for the health sector.

“At least 10% of the total national budget should be allocated for the health sector to ensure proper health services for all citizens,” he added.

Syed Abdul Hamid has also emphasised carrying out proper needs assessments for the health sector in a bid to ensure proper budgetary allocation.

“The lack in existing and missing line items in the health sector should be identified before allocating funds as per the needs,” the health economists said.

The WHO has established that a minimum of 5% of a country’s GDP should be spent on health. To build back better, the WHO recommends reorienting health systems using a primary health care approach.

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