Health experts today said the country needs to focus on need-based allocation to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as it ensures effective utilization of resources through covering all levels of people.
"There are four components of need-based allocation.... among them, we have to consider first population of a particular region to fix resource allocation based on their needs," Director of Institute of Health Economics of University of Dhaka Professor Dr Syed Abdul Hamid told BSS.
Another three components of the need-based allocation are age and gender, disease burden and poverty, he said adding all these three components are also important towards achieving UHC in the context of Bangladesh.
"If we allocate resources considering population size of a specific region, the people of those area will get proper healthcare facilities, which eventually help attain UHC within scheduled time," Prof Hamid added.
In case of gender and age component, children, women and elderly people are the most vulnerable groups of the population, he said adding so, they need special allocation of resources to ensure their access to healthcare facilities.
There are clear variations of disease burden and poverty issues due to geographical location as the people of some areas of the country are affected by specific diseases while poverty hampers smooth access of the people to healthcare facilities in hard-to-reach areas alongside some impoverished northern districts, Prof Hamid added.
Activities facilitating UHC in Bangladesh has gained new momentum following the commitment of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the 64th World Health Assembly in May 2011 to achieve UHC by 2032. Some strategic initiatives undertaken since then include the formulation of the Health Care Financing Strategy 2012-2032, Communication Strategy for UHC 2014-2016 and Bangladesh National Health Accounts-2015.
Former Director General of Health Economics Unit Md Asadul Islam said Bangladesh has achieved remarkable success in primary health care services delivery though it has the lowest per capita health expenditure in the SAARC region.
This country has been plagued with the burden of unacceptably high out of pocket expenditure at the level of 64 percent of total health expenditure, he said "The government spending is around 26 percent. There are no mentionable health expenditure programmes and the economically vulnerable population of the country is threatened with impoverishment in case of catastrophic illness."
Referring to the current budgetary allocation of 5.16 percent on health, Asadul said Bangladesh will require more than just increased financial resources for health, it will require improved ways of organizing resource mobilization, allocation and expenditure in order to obtain the maximum value for money to ensure equitable and sustainable financing and financial protection against the health expenditure for the entire population.
Bangladesh must ensure participation of the people of all strata as the government could not alone achieve UHC, he said adding, "We have to develop an effective and credible health insurance system to overcome financial hurdle against any catastrophic disease."
Asadul laid emphasis on promoting need-based allocation through improving resource utilization efficiency to reach healthcare facilities to all segments of the people.
He said Bangladesh must remove inequalities to ensure universal health coverage as it is still facing many challenges to provide healthcare facilities for the underprivileged people and those living in hard-to-reach regions.