Experts gather to identify health financing approaches for reaching Universal Health Coverage in Bangladesh

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) organized a two-day workshop from 26th to 27th July 2018 in Dhaka for identifying international best practices on “Health Financing Policy Options for Universal Health Coverage in Bangladesh”.

Chaired by Prof. Abul Kalam Azad, Director General of DGHS, the event gathered international experts, policy makers, development partners and academia, aiming to provide a comparative perspective on different health financing mechanisms applied in Asia, Europe, Africa and globally. Professor Soonman Kwon, from the School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Dr Ajay Tandon, Lead Economist, from the World Bank Washington, and other national and international experts joined DGHS in its efforts to identify the most suitable health financing options for achieving universal health coverage (UHC) in Bangladesh.

Participants shared and analyzed the experience of implementing the Bangladesh Health Care Financing Strategy as well as international health financing reforms, design and implementation of social health protection mechanisms and other essential aspects of health financing.

“There is no perfect model for financing Universal Health Coverage. Some policies that showed very good results in Europe might not be feasible in Asia. Or even in Asia, measures implemented by a country might be totally unsuitable for a neighboring country. However, having a broad perspective on what the options are, knowing and understanding how different countries in the world built their pathway to UHC, is the first step for decision makers to tailor financing policies to a specific country’s context” Kira Koch, consultant WHO Geneva, commented during the event.

Bangladesh’s efforts in identifying appropriate health financing mechanisms for UHC are part of a regional South East Asian context where nearly half of the population still lacks full coverage of essential health services and significant inequalities persist. In this regard, the event looked for suggestions on areas such as mobilization of additional domestic resources; and effective payment mechanisms which will better incentivize health providers to deliver high quality and equitable services across the country, particularly in rural and hard to reach areas.

The workshop was the first step in developing a working group comprising all relevant stakeholders that will further work to identify avenues around health financing options for achieving Universal Health Coverage in Bangladesh by 2030.

The event was organized with financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation. World Health Organization Bangladesh, icddr,b, the World Bank, and the Institute of Health Economics from the University of Dhaka provided technical assistance to the design and organization.