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Bangladesh is committed to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) by 2032; to this end, the government of Bangladesh is exploring policy options to increase fiscal space for health and expand coverage while improving service quality and availability. Despite Bangladesh's impressive strides in improving its economic and social development outcomes, the government still confronts health financing and service delivery challenges. In its review of the health system, this study highlights the limited fiscal space for implementing UHC in Bangladesh, particularly given low public spending for health and high out-of-pocket expenditure. The crisis in the country's human resources for health (HRH) compounds public health service delivery inefficiencies. As the government explores options to finance its UHC plan, it must recognize that reform of its service delivery system with particular focus on HRH has to be the centerpiece of any policy initiative. The Path to Universal Health Coverage in Bangladesh assesses the current status of HRH in terms of production, recruitment, and deployment as well as related policy-making processes. It then explores policy options based on evidence from international experience that will help Bangladesh improve the availability and skill-mix of its health workforce. To reach its goal of UHC by 2032, the government will have to commit itself to policies to expand health financing options and, at the same time, tackle HRH challenges head on. This study presents an economic analysis model of different scenarios that accelerate closing the HRH gap for nurses and community midwives by 2020 within the government's fiscal space, thus improving the skill-mix of its health workforce. The study also presents detailed policy options to address HRH shortages, improve the skill mix, address geographic imbalances, retain health workers in rural areas, and adopt strategic payments and purchasing mechanisms. In presenting these options, the study provides evidence from literature as well as cogent cases from low- and middle-income countries, such as Afghanistan, Chile, Indonesia, Malawi, Nepal, Tanzania, and Thailand, to demonstrate the effect of these policies.

 

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