Former Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman on Saturday urged the government to keep aside 7 per cent allocation in the upcoming budget for the health sector to fight the 2nd wave of coronavirus.
He also noted that public and private stakeholders need to work in a coordinated manner after taking warlike preparations to avoid unwanted situations the neighbouring countries are currently facing due to the 2nd wave of coronavirus.“For that, the health sector should receive 7 per cent of the total budgetary allocation in 2021-22 fiscal year and this allocation needs to be raised to 10-12 per cent during the tenure of the 8th Five-Year Plan,” said Dr Atiur Rahman, also Bangabandhu Chair Professor of Dhaka University.
He came up with the remarks while speaking at a pre-budget webinar titled ‘Public Expenditure for Health Sector: Proposals for FY2021-22’ jointly organised by Unnayan Shamannay and Bangladesh Health Watch.
The virtual programme was chaired by Bangladesh Health Watch Convener Dr Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury.
Planning Minister MA Mannan addressed the webinar as the chief guest while former Health Minister Dr AFM Ruhal Haque was present as a special gust.
Shirin Akhter, MP, Aroma Dutta, MP, Md Habibe Millat, MP, founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury and National Professor Dr Shahla Khatun, among other discussants, spoke at the programme.
In his speech, the planning minister said they will rethink about prioritising allocation for the health sector and urged the civil society to keep pushing the health agenda.Dr Atiur Rahman also gave a presentation on the topic where he opined that increasing health budget alone will not be sufficient. “The policymakers need to set the right priorities while spending such additional allocations.”
He noted that primary health care gets around one-fourth of the health budget. “Considering that the majority of the health care seekers need primary care, this ratio needs to be increased to 35-40 per cent of the total budget for the medium term.”
The eminent economist also called for cutting down allocations for other sectors, if needed, to ensure that 60 per cent of Bangladesh’s population gets vaccinated within the next 12-18 months.
Ruhal Haque emphasised decentralisation of the health administration and reforming the bureaucratic system to speed up the services in this sector.
Shirin Akhter highlighted the necessity to enhance budget implementation efficiency in the health sector.
Habibe Millat underscored the need for ensuring better coordination among the state and non-state actors involved in coronavirus treatment and other programmes in the health sector.