Healthcare expenses are becoming costlier day by day due to excessive medicines being prescribed by medical practitioners.
In public hospitals, only three percent of patients receive free medicines and 14.9 percent receive free diagnostic services.
Dhaka University Health Economics Unit Director (Research) Mohammad Nurul Amin made the remarks while presenting a research paper at a function held at Hotel Intercontinental in the capital on Sunday.
Dr Amin said, “Due to the opportunity to buy almost all types of medicines including antibiotics without a valid prescription it turns out that patients buy medicines often without the proper need for the specific treatment. Meanwhile, many doctors take advantage of lack of knowledge on drug use and advice patients medicines which are not essential or obligatory in treating the specific disease.”
According to the research, more than 14,000 community clinics have been set up in the country to provide medical services at the doorsteps of marginalized people.
As a result of improvements in various types of healthcare, the index has seen unimaginable success, matching various international recognitions.
However, Bangladesh is far behind in achieving the target of universal healthcare in SDG. In 2012, the out-of-pocket expenditure of patients in Bangladesh was 64 percent. To reduce such expenditure to 32 percent by 2032- the government adopted a policy titled - Healthcare Finance Strategy: 2012-2032.
In 2015, the cost increased to 67 percent. Therefore, it can be said that the main obstacle in achieving universal healthcare in Bangladesh is the high rate of spending from the pockets of the patients.
The research paper also states that the main source of expenditure from the patient's own pocket is the expenditure in the pharmaceutical sector, which is about 64 percent. Besides the hospital's outdoor and emergency expenses they also spent eight percent on diagnostic testing.
Dr Amin further said, “Due to lack of private hospital accreditation system, lack of monitoring of the quality of service and price, medical expenses are increasing several folds.”
However, at the same time he also suggested that it is possible to reduce the cost of out of the patient's own pocket by strengthening the supply side of the healthcare sector as well as by introducing and extending health protection program or social health insurance for people from different walks of life including people living below the poverty line.