Health Minister Zahid Maleque underscored the need for a multisectoral approach for achieving the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The minister came up with the remark while addressing the celebration event of UHC Day 2019 as chief guest at the CIRDAP auditorium in the city.At present, allocation for health sector in the national budget is low compared to many other countries, he noted. “We’ll take initiatives to have the allocation increased.”
UHC Day 2019 celebration event was organised by Health Economics Unit (HEU), Health Services Division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with support from World Health Organization (WHO) Bangladesh.
Health Services Division Secretary Md Ashadul Islam presided over the event. It was addressed, among others, by Medical Education and Family Welfare Secretary Sheikh Yusuf Harun, Director General of HEU Dr Shahadt Hossain Mahmud and WHO Country Representative Dr Bardan Jung Rana.
UHC Day is the annual rallying point for the growing movement for health for all. ‘Keep the Promise’ is this year’s theme.
According to WHO, UHC means that all people have access to health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.
The overall objective of the UHC Day is to sensitise the governments and all relevant stakeholders to design action plans to guarantee health as a right, not a privilege; functional investment in a society where all people can get the quality health care they need and trust.
The day also emphasised establishing strong, equitable health systems that leave no one behind.In the event, five presentations were made. Barriers in Access to Health Care by the Left-Behind Segment of the Population presented by Professor Syed Abdul Hamid from Dhaka University; Coverage of Quality Health Care Services to Achieve UHC in Bangladesh by Dr Md Aminul Hasan, Director (Hospital), Directorate General of Heal Services (DGHS); Invest More to Make UHC a Reality by Dr Md Nurul Amin, Director (Research), HEU; Monitoring Progress on Universal Health Coverage in Bangladesh by Farzana Akter from WHO Bangladesh and Better Investment: Invest in Effective Technologies by Dr Mohammad Sabbir Haider from DGHS.
The presenters highlighted the initiative of Bangladesh for reorienting the health system around primary health care as the core strategy. The primary health care (PHC) of the government is very much aligned to achieving UHC.
To ensure PHC for hardcore poor and vulnerable communities, the government is implementing pilot project - Shasthyo Shuroksha Karmasuchi – in three upazilas of Tangail. Around 85,600 households below poverty line are receiving inpatient services for 78 diseases free of cost.
The Maternal Health Voucher Scheme (MHVS) for ensuring safe delivery of poor mothers is in operation in 55 upazilas. Specified services are provided by designated health personnel at facilities in the public, the private and the NGO sectors.
Some of the major challenges identified during the event for achieving UHC in Bangladesh include inadequate public investment to health sector; double burden of diseases; ineﬃciency in resource allocation and utilisation; low financial risk protection; shortage of skilled human resource in public and private sectors; unregulated private sector and unsatisfactory quality of health services.
To meet these challenges, the discussants emphasised on increasing domestic investment towards primary health care; target-based approach to tackle inequity; harness eﬃciency gains in resource use by strengthening public financial management.
Other suggestions include improving financial risk protection; implement approved HR strategy and action plan; improve regulatory and enforcement system and promote evidence-based decision making and policy reforms.