Health budget squeezed during present government: Ruhal Haque

Staff Correspondent

The health minister, AFM Ruhal Haque, on Saturday said that the budget allocation for his ministry was squeezed in every year during the incumbent government although he tried to pursue the finance ministry to increase the allocation.
‘Maybe we’ve failed to make finance ministry understand about the importance of health budget though several times I sent them letters and my secretary went to the finance ministry,’ he said at a seminar on universal health coverage.
The seminar was organised by Power and Participation Research Centre at BRAC Centre Inn in the city.
The proposed allocation for health sector was 4.3 per cent of the total budget for 2013-2014 financial year while it was 5.4 per cent in 2011-12.
Heath ministry health economics unit director general M Ashadul Islam said that although gross domestic product was increasing, the public spending in health sector was still less than one per cent of total GDP.
He pointed out that in 2006-2007, the public sector expenditure was 26 per cent of total health expenditure while household out of pocket expenditure was 64 per cent.
The health experts at the discussion stressed the need of health insurance to ensure universal health coverage to protect health rights of the poor.
They emphasised on formation of a model considering the socio-economic reality of Bangladesh.
‘We can review the experience of the countries like Cuba, Taiwan and Iran who ensured the universal health coverage,’ Ganashastha Kendra founder Zafarullah Chowdhury said.
Only hospital buildings cannot ensure health care for all, he said recommending a model of universal heath courage for the garment workers, where he showed that only Tk 1500 yearly premium could ensure all health facilities but cancer therapy, kidney transplantation and some other expensive health care.
Former Bangladesh Medical Association president Rashid-e-Mahbub, said, ‘We have to be very specific about the universal health coverage model for health insurance including what would be the premium, how many healthcare would be covered and what would be the policy for the critical care and preventive care.’
PPRC executive chairman Hossain Zillur Rahman moderated the programme that was addressed, among others by, former Bangladesh Bank governor Saleh Uddin Ahmed former health secretary AMM Nasiruddin and BRAC Development Institute director Syed Hashemi.

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