Finance minister AMA Muhith on Thursday proposed 4.04 percent of the total outlay of the proposed budget Tk400,266 crore for 2017-18 fiscal year in the health sector, down from 5.13 per cent of the original budget of the outgoing 2016-17 FY.
In terms of money also, the proposed budget has lesser allocation in health sector as the proposed budget of 2017-17 FY allocated Tk 16,182 crore in the sector, down by Tk 1,305 crore from Tk 17,487 crore of the budget of the outgoing year.
Health rights activists criticized the government for lowering the allocation in the health sector as they said the government increased the budget size up by 17.5 per cent and expanded the tax net as well, but did not considered the health services for the people.
Bangladesh Health Rights Movement chairman Rashid-e-Mahbub said the trend of lowering the allocation in the health sector in last few years proved that the government has backtracked from its commitment to affordable and accessible health care for people.
‘Lowering budget in public health indicates that the government wants to leave the healthcare to private sector’, he said.
Rashid said the outcome of lowering the budget in the health sector would mean that the out-pocket-expenditure of patients would increase, resulting poor people becoming more poor and middle income people becoming poor for their health expenditure.
The finance minister in his budget speech said the government has a focus on health, population and nutrition sector development programme and plans on to set up new community clinics.
‘In order to ensure quality and easily accessible healthcare and family welfare services for all people of the country, we have rolled out the five year long Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Programme at a cost of Tk. 43,486 crore’, Muhith said.
‘Through this programme, we are implementing initiatives for improved healthcare services for mother and child, population control and quality reproductive health services, specialized healthcare services, control of contagious and noncontagious diseases as well as new diseases caused by climate change, safe food with balanced nutrition and human resources development’, he said.
In addition, Muhith said, ‘We plan to set up new community clinics and extend maternal health voucher programme in order to take healthcare services to the doorsteps of rural poor and marginalised people’.
He said as many as 13,339 community clinics have already been established and we have a plan to establish another 392 community clinics.
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