A greater allocation should have been seen
Without a doubt, priority number one in Bangladesh right now is the pandemic we are currently going through. It was hoped that the 2021-2022 budget would reflect this fact, with an appropriately increased allocation for the health sector. Alas, this has not happened -- not if we closely look at the budget with clear eyes.
A budget of Tk32,731 crore has been proposed for the health sector, which is only 0.95% of GDP. Regrettably, this is even less than last year’s revised budget of 1.02%. Compare this to the recommended minimum of the World Health Organization -- which says at least 5% of GDP should be spent on health. The question may be asked: Why are we behind in this area?
Experts in Bangladesh have been suggesting that at least 2% be spent on health. This should have been more than achievable, though still falling short of the WHO recommendation. At a time of pandemic, when we have been hearing that Covid-19 is the priority, it seems that the concern for the health sector has been largely a matter of lip-service.
It will be argued, no doubt, that in absolute terms there has been an increase in the allocation for the health sector, with a 12% increase in terms of funds. In reality, however, considering the whole picture, this is not much of an improvement. Certainly, at a time when people are dying by the numbers and hospitals are working beyond capacity, a greater allocation should have been seen, at least this year of all years.