Former Bangladesh Bank Governor Professor Atiur Rahman said the government needs to increase the share of the health sector in the national budget to relieve the citizens from this burden of "out-of-pocket health expenditure".
"73% of the total health expenditure comes from pockets of the citizens in Bangladesh. The remaining 27% is borne from the health budget of the government," he said while addressing an online discussion session titled "National Policy Dialogue on Health Budget".
Non-government think tank Unnayan Shamannay organised the event, said a press release.
Mentioning that usually more or less 5% of the national budget is allocated for the health sector, Atiur urged to increase this ratio to 7 to 8% in the coming fiscal year and set the target of raising this ratio to 10 to 12% in the medium term.
The former Bangladesh Bank governor presented proposals about increasing budget allocation for the health sector along with increasing allocations for development projects, allocations for primary healthcare and medicine provided free of cost at government-run healthcare facilities.
Former Health Minister Ruhal Haque proposed to start thinking about developing a separate health cadre for the public service to ensure better management of the health sector.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Director-General Binayak Sen, Dhaka University Professor Syed Abdul Hamid and eminent sociologist Khondoker Shakhawat Ali were the specialist discussants at the event.
Binayak Sen drew attention to the idea of health insurance schemes for the poor and lower-middle-income households not being viable enough at the moment.
He also urged to start planning a universal healthcare program for these segments of the population.
Parliamentarians Pankaj Nath from Barisal-4 constituency, Md Amirul Alam from Bagerhat-4, Aroma Dutta and Lutfun Nesa Khan from reserved women's seat were present at the discussion.
Aroma Dutta said increasing allocations for medicine (to be provided free of cost) can reduce the financial pressure on the lower-income households to a significant extent.
About a significant share of development allocations for the health sector remaining unspent, Lutfun Nesa Khan opined that enhancing overall management quality and governance is required to overcome this challenge.