Former Governor of Bangladesh Bank (BB) Professor Dr. Atiur Rahman on Tuesday said 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.
He believes that to relieve the citizens from this burden of ‘out of pocket health expenditure’, the government needs to increase the share of the health sector in the national budget.
Usually upto 5 percent of the national budget is allocated for the health sector. Dr. Rahman has urged to increase this to 7 to 8 percent in the coming fiscal budget and to set a target for raising this ratio to 10-12 percent in the medium term.
He said this while speaking at an online discussion session titled ‘National Policy Dialogue on Health Budget’, organized by non-government think tank Unnayan Shamannay.
The parliament members present at the discussion were- A. F. M. Ruhal Haque, MP (Satkhira 3), Pankaj Nath, MP (Barisal 4), Md. Amirul Alam, MP (Bagerhat 4), Lutfun Nesa Kan, MP (Reserved Women Seat 48), and Aroma Dutta, MP (Reserved Women Seat 11).
Specialist discussants at the event were- the BIDS Director General- Dr. Binayak Sen, Dhaka University Professor Dr. Syed Abdul Hamid, and eminent sociologist Khondoker Shakhawat Ali.
On behalf of Unnayan Shamannay, Dr. Atiur presented proposals about increasing budget allocation for the health sector along with specific proposals about increasing allocations for development projects, allocations for primary healthcare and for medicine provided free of cost at government-run healthcare facilities.
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 them to start planning about a universal healthcare program for these segments of the population.
The online dialogue session was moderated by Unnayan Shamannay’s Senior Project Coordinator Shaheen Ul Alam.