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‘Out-of-pocket health expenditure must be reduced’

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 6th June, 2022 06:59:31 PM
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‘Out-of-pocket health expenditure must be reduced’

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The out of pocket health expenditure of the country will have to be reduced by the government in a bid to ensure Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and to attain the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), said experts and lawmakers.

The speakers came up with the statement while speaking at a pre-budget national dialogue organized jointly by Bangladesh Health Watch, Brac James P. Grant School of Public Health, Brac University, and Unnayan Shamannay.

The event was organized in the capital on Monday. Parliamentarians and public health experts were present at the programme. 

The lawmakers Prof Dr Habibe Millat, Rumin Farhana, and Shamim Haidar Patwary were present at the event while Dr. Syed Abdul Hamid, Professor at the Institute of Health Economics of Dhaka University was present as an expert discussant. 

The session was moderated by Dhaka University Prof Dr. Ruaman Haque who is also the Chair of the thematic group of Bangladesh Health watch.

According to the experts, of the total health expenditure of the country, out-of-pocket expenditure by the people constitutes 68%. The government bears only 23% of the total health expenditure. 

In this situation health sector allocations in the National Budget must aim to reduce the share of out-of-pocket expenditure in the total health expenditure, they viewed. 

At the beginning of the session, Unnayan Shamannay Chair and former Governor of Bangladesh Bank- Professor Dr. Atiur Rahman presented the keynote paper. 

He pointed out that by tripling the allocations for the medical and surgical supply sub-sector of the health budget and by filling up all the vacancies at the Upazila health complexes, union health sub-centers, and community clinics- the share of the out-of-pocket cost can be  reduced to 51%. 

However, to ensure access to quality healthcare the policymakers ought to go beyond just increasing allocations and aim to revamp the entire health sector- he opined. 

Habibe Millat emphasized the health sector needs in the medium- to long-term national planning documents such as the five-year plans of the government. 

Shamim Haider Patwary said the government alone cannot ensure quality healthcare for all the people in the country, rather it should go for building partnerships with private sector healthcare providers.