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Create DateMarch 17, 2016

Abstract: The health system of Bangladesh relies heavily on the government or the public sector for financing and setting overall policies and service delivery mechanisms. Although the health system is faced with many intractable challenges, it seems to receive little priority in terms of national resource allocation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO 2010) only about 3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on health services. However, government expenditure on health is only about 34% of the total health expenditure (THE), the rest (66%) being out-of-pocket (OOP) expenses. Inequity, therefore, is a serious problem affecting the health care system. Based on a review of secondary data, the paper assesses the current challenges and opportunities of the health system in Bangladesh. The findings suggest that although the health system faces multifaceted challenges such as lack of public health facilities, scarcity of skilled workforce, inadequate financial resource allocation and political instability; Bangladesh has demonstrated much progress in achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) especially MDG 4 and MDG 5. Although the country has a growing private sector primarily providing tertiary level health care services, Bangladesh still does not have a comprehensive health policy to strengthen the entire health system. Clearly, the most crucial challenge is the absence of a dynamic and proactive stewardship
able to design and enforce policies to further strengthen and enhance the overall health system. Such strong leadership could bring about meaningful and effective health system reform, which will work more efficiently for the betterment of the health of the people of Bangladesh, and would be built upon the values of equity and accountability.