Negligence of Health Ministry is a matter of record, but nothing to be ashamed of

20 April 2021 Editorial Desk
Negligence of Health Ministry is a matter of record, but nothing to be ashamed of

The Health Services Division under the Ministry of Health utilised only 21 per cent of their allocations from the Annual Development Programme (ADP) in the last nine months even in the Covid-19 situation. From its allocation of Tk 11,979.34 crore, the division managed to spend just Tk 2,515.54 crore, which made it one of the poorest performers among 48 ministries and divisions. The sector could not even reach the national average of ADP implementation rate in the last six years, despite being the top recipient of the government's development allocations, says a report.

According to an Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division report, the allocation to the division goes down in the revised ADP every year. A media report in a national daily on Monday said the division received Tk 6,447.78 crore as project aid from ADP but it utilised only Tk 664.94 crore, which is 10.31 per cent of the allocated project aid. The division was allocated Tk 5,531.56 crore from the government's own fund to implement different projects. Out of this, it utilised only Tk 1,850 crore, which is 33.45 per cent of the allocation.
Experts have expressed concern over the division's inefficiency in the time of pandemic and the grave crisis in the health sector. They see a lack of capacity to run projects, as planned, absence of skilled manpower and corruption as the main reasons behind the poor performance. The sector is already in a fragile state with systemic weaknesses and the pandemic only exposed it. Underperformance of the health sector in budget implementation year after year explains why the health care system was so ill-equipped to face the pandemic. It is shameful because even the biggest health crisis in one hundred years appears to have made no difference to the implementation capacity of the Health Ministry which is in the frontline of the battle against Covid-19.

Experts have blamed our recruitment and posting system as faulty. We recruit only doctors in the health sector through the Bangladesh Civil Service examination. But without public health professionals, health economists, biostaticians, epidemiologists and health communication specialists, an efficient health service sector cannot be developed. Then again, the sector is also riddled with rampant corruption in infrastructure development and procurement of medical equipment and accessories.  

Negligence and inefficiency are nothing to be complained about because that makes the government the model of success to sycophants. This is the model of incompetence we do not deserve.

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