The World Health Organization (WHO) released a global report on health sector statistics on the occasion of the 75th World Health Conference in Geneva on Sunday. According to the Manpower Strategy for SDGs, 4.45 physicians, nurses and midwives are required to provide healthcare to 1000 people. But Bangladesh is far behind the requirement. There are 0.7 physicians for every 1,000 people and 0.49 nurses and midwives. There are 74 per cent fewer physicians, nurses and midwives than the standard set by the WHO.

The report focuses on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The question remains, how much Bangladesh was or is ready for this. It has already been proved that the sector was not ready during the Covid outbreak. According to health care data, 51 per cent of the people in Bangladesh are covered by the universal health coverage index. This means that 49 per cent of the people do not get quality services when they need.

Secondly, where does the money being spent on the healthcare come from? Twenty-four per cent of people spend 10 per cent of their family income on medical expenses. More than 8 per cent of people spend more than 25 per cent of their family income in this sector. There are many such people who have sold their houses and lands for treatment.

There is not only a shortage of manpower, Bangladesh is also lagging behind in terms of allocation for the health sector. Although 7 per cent of the budget was allocated to the health sector last year, a large portion of it has been spent on tackling Covid. This time the infection of Covid is very low. As a result, the government needs to pay more attention to the general healthcare.

The average life expectancy of the people of Bangladesh (73 years for men and 75 years and 6 months for women) has increased. But if some of them continue to suffer from various diseases in the last stage of their lives, it causes two types of damage. First of all, the family has to spend a lot of money on healthcare. Secondly, the country is deprived of the services of the person concerned.

In this context, we expect that the allocation for the health sector will be increased in the fiscal year 2022-23 and the use of that money will be properly monitored. Like many other sectors, in South Asia, our lowest position in the health sector allocations is by no means acceptable.

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