The proposed budget falls short on health, leaving Bangladesh in the terrible position of being one of South Asia’s lowest-spending countries in terms of GDP.

Health is one of the areas where the most effort is required during this pandemic, as it is overwhelmed with patients. However, the proposed budget shows a drop in this area’s allocation, both in terms of percentage of the budget – compared to this fiscal year’s revised allocation – and GDP as well.

It was only normal to predict that allocations in this sector would skyrocket in contrast to GDP.

In health, Tk32,731 crore has been proposed, which is only 0.95% of GDP, which is even less than this year’s revised budget of 1.02%.  

The World Health Organization sets at least 5% of GDP spending on health as a minimum requirement for a country to fare well.

If one looks at South Asia, Bangladesh’s proposed health spending as a percentage of GDP is just above Pakistan and Afghanistan. Maldives spends as much as 9% of its GDP.

Ever since Covid-19 struck, Bangladesh and the weakness of its health sector has been exposed, and experts and economists have been demanding at least 2% of GDP be spent on health.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has proposed 5.42% of the budget to health for the next year, while the allocation is 5.84% of this year’s revised budget.\

However, health got a 12% increase in absolute terms, in the proposed budget. 

During the pandemic, the minister said, they will continue adopting strategies to protect public health and the lives of people.

Besides, he said, they will lay utmost emphasis on implementing various activities in the health and family welfare sector in line with the medium- and long-term plans.