Experts at a post-budget dialogue on Thursday called for increasing allocation for the health sector to reduce the share of out-of-pocket expenditure in the total health expenditure.
They also recommended the supply of free-of-cost medicine and availability of diagnostic facilities be increased at all government-run healthcare facilities.
Primary health care seekers in rural areas currently bear 68% of the total health expenditure out of their pocket, but the ratio could be brought down to 51% if an additional Tk8,000 crore is allocated for health in the national budget for fiscal 2022-23, said former Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman while presenting the keynote at the event.
Former information minister Hasanul Huq Inu MP, who attended the online dialogue session organised jointly by Bangladesh Health Watch, Brac James P Grant School of Public Health, Brac University, and Unnayan Shamannay as chief guest, emphasised developing a five-year plan for the health sector giving the highest priority to ensuring universal primary healthcare and then allocating the budget in alignment with that plan.
Health insurance schemes were identified as the way forward by Dr Pran Gopal Dutta MP to ensure universal access to quality and affordable healthcare for all.
He suggested the government start piloting health insurance schemes as soon as possible.
Representatives from different government and non-government bodies related to public health participated in the question-answer session.
Major points discussed were the lack of funding to deal with non-communicable diseases, the inadequacy of training on administration and accounts for health cadres, and limited access to government-run health facilities in urban areas.
Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director of Disease Control at the Directorate General of Health Services, said, "We have serious mismanagement in this sector and that is only because of a lack of adequate medical people. Right people are not in the right positions."
He also pointed out the deteriorated urban health condition of our country and suggested engaging local government bodies more effectively to solve the problem.
Bangladesh Health Watch Thematic Group Chair Professor Dr Rumana Haque delivered the welcome speech at the event, moderated by Unnayan Shamannay's Project Coordinator Zahid Rahman.