With government hospitals failing to provide services, patients from the lower income bracket become ultra poor due to high cost of medical treatment in private hospitals, said speakers at a roundtable yesterday.
Despite suffering from acute shortage of resources, government hospitals only utilise a little more than half of their annual budget, forcing patients to seek treatment in the private sector, they added.
The roundtable "Discussion on the Budget of Health Sector 2014" organised by the Health Network of Bangladesh was held at Jatiya Press Club in the capital.
They further said that government hospitals in rural areas receive their budget near the end of the fiscal year due to bureaucratic tangles and thus do not have much time to spend the money.
As a result, a significant portion of the health budget remains unused every year, while 64 percent of the total healthcare cost comes from people's pockets. The government, donors and NGOs cover the rest.
Presenting the keynote paper, public health expert Muhamad Abdus Sabur said the national budget for healthcare dropped below five percent, while WHO recommends that at least 15 percent of the annual budget should be spent on health sector.
Rashid-e-Mahbub, chairman of National Health Rights Movement, said there is no alternative to increasing the budget of health sector, but utilisation of the money need to be ensured first.
Trustee of Gonoshasthaya Public Charitable Trust Zafrullah Chowdhury, among others, spoke.