As Bangladesh is battling the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Thursday proposed allocating Tk 32,731 crore for the health sector for 2021-22 fiscal year.
He came up with the proposal while unveiling the national budget for the next financial year in Parliament.
The allocation for the Health Services Division, Health Education and Family Welfare Division is up by Tk 3,486 crore or 10.65 per cent than last year’s Tk 29,245 crore.
“Giving an utmost priority to the programmes and steps taken by the government to address the Covid-19 pandemic, I propose to allocate Tk 32,731 crore for the Health and Family Welfare sector in the next fiscal year, which was Tk. 29,245 crore in FY2020-2021,” the minister said.
The proposed allocation is 5.42 per cent of the total budget outlay while 5.84 per cent of this year's revised budget and only 0.95 per cent of GDP.
The World Health Organization (WHO) sets at least 5 per cent of GDP spending on health as a minimum requirement for a country to fare well.
The finance minister said during the pandemic, the government will continue adopting strategies to protect public health and the lives of people.
Alongside, they will lay utmost emphasis on implementing various activities in the health and family welfare sector in line with the medium and long term plans, he said.
Mustafa Kamal said in the last budget, the government made a large allocation for the implementation of special activities under the Health Services Division to address the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides, they set aside Tk 10,000 crore to meet the expenses related to unanticipated emergency requirements. “I would like to propose to allocate Tk 10,000 crore in the next fiscal year to meet the emergency requirements to respond to the pandemic,” the finance minister said.
He said different projects are being implemented with the funding of US$ 600 million from the World Bank, US$ 100 million from the Asian Development Bank and US$ 100 million from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
The ‘Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness’ project, supported by the World Bank and AIIB, is in progress. “Purchase of vaccines, installation of oxygen lines, setting up of ICUs/CCUs and other activities are being taken under the project,” he said.
The finance minister said steps have been taken to enhance capacity of private medical college hospitals, including the Department of Nursing and Midwifery, to deal with the pandemic. “The process of urgently recruiting necessary manpower and hiring consultants on a contract basis is underway to ensure proper case management including expanding laboratory facilities and enhancing the skills of concerned health workers, doctors, nurses and technologists.” He proposed a Tk 100-crore Integrated Health-Science Research and Development Fund to finance the activities for the development of research on health education, and science and technology. “Like the current year, Tk 100 crore will be allocated in the next financial year, and necessary steps will be taken to operationalise the fund,” he said.