Health coverage low for poor, less educated, rural people

Speakers at a programme on Wednesday said despite progress in health sector, coverage is still low for the poor, less educated and rural people though health inequalities between rural and urban areas in the country are smaller than those of income and education.
They also said about 130 million people in the South-East Asian countries still lack access to one or more essential health services, while 4.0 per cent of the global population is pushed further into poverty as a result of health spending. Globally the number of people who are still out of health services is 400 million.
They, however, said Bangladesh is the leader among the developing countries that can achieve health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), facing the single-most challenge of skilled and educated human resources.
The observations were made at the National Consultation Seminar on SDGs and the Role of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Health Economics Unit (HEU) under Ministry of Health organized the programme with support of World Health Organisation (WHO). HEU director general Ashadul Islam moderated the session.
In his presentation - Health and the SDGs: Global and Regional Perspectives - WHO Representative to Bangladesh Dr N. Paranietharan said SDG3 is specific to health, and there are six more health-related goals.
UHC is critical to SDG3, meaning accessible, affordable and quality healthcare. SDG3 denotes ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
He said there is policy integration meaning balancing all three SDG dimensions: social, economic growth and environmental protection. An integrated approach implies managing trade-offs and maximising synergies across targets and the principle of 'no one left behind' advocates countries to go beyond averages.
The SDGs should benefit all by eradicating poverty and reducing inequalities, while promotion and use of disaggregated data is the key, he added.
State Minister for Health Zahid Maleque said UHC means affordable and accessible health services, which Bangladesh has been delivering through community clinics. The health services are more or less free with nominal charges in some cases.
However, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are spreading in the country, which Bangladeshi people cannot afford to handle properly, as 22 per cent people are still poor.
To achieve the SDGs, political will is very important as well as installation of more medical college hospitals. Environment issues, good food, air, water, sanitation and hygiene etc are indispensable for health.
He also said the budget allocation of Tk 170 billion is not enough for health sector.
The state minister emphasized coordination among the ministries and agencies concerned, poverty reduction and empowerment of women for achieving the SDGs.
Health Secretary and inaugural session chair Syed Monjurul Islam said Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in health sector although the country spends only US$ 27 per capita, which is two-three times lower than many other peer countries. Public sector financing is a challenge, but the single-most challenge is adequate human resource. Because, the skill mix is very unbalanced, and synchronization between demand and supply, not only in skill but in education, is a challenge.
He said emerging NCDs involve not only health sector but other ministries and people's lifestyle. Health services and stewardship of health sector by the government and regulation of private sector health facilities are the future challenges for achieving the SDGs. [Read More]

Source: The Financial Express


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