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Reduced health budget will hamper MDG efforts: Experts



The country has several challenges to address in child health‚ maternal health and communicable and non-communicable diseases

KATHMANDU: Reduction in health budget could create obstructions in meeting the Millennium Development Goals’ (MDG) target, health experts warned today.

Babu Ram Marasini, chief of Health Sector Reform Unit at the Health Ministry said the budget cut will adversely affect efforts to meet the MDG target.

Although the country is showing progress in so far as child mortality rate and maternal mortality rate are concerned, the situation could reverse if the budgetary allocations are not forthcoming, said Marasini.

The Finance ministry has allocated Rs 16.58 billion to the health sector for this fiscal through interim arrangement of expenditure.

Of the total 24.92 billion budget earmarked for the health sector last fiscal, the ministry spent only 20.62 billion.

Though external development partners are interested in increasing financial assistance, the Finance Ministry and National Planning Commission have failed to draft the programme accordingly, said Marasini.

He said the Finance Ministry was not interested in increasing the health budget due to corruption in the health sector.

About 70 to 72 per cent of health budget is spent on salary, incentives, procurement of food and drugs, and transportation, he said.

According to MDG needs assessment for Nepal-2010 carried out by National Planning Commission and United Nations Development Programme, there is urgent need to identify groups that are excluded from access to child health services.

Moreover, neonatal mortality rate (NMR) has not gone down in comparison to under-five mortality rate (U5MR).

There is a need to decrease NMR to achieve the MDGs targets for U5MR and infant mortality rate (IMR).

There are three MDGs focused on health: MDG 4 to improve child health, MDG 5 to improve maternal health and MDG 6 to combat

HIV, AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

As per the report, the U5MR per 1,000 live births was 50 in 2010 which is expected to come down to 40 by 2013. The targeted MDG for U5MR by 2015 is 38 .

The IMR per 1,000 live births was 41 in 2010 and the goal is to bring it down to 36 by 2013. The MDG for IMR by 2015 has been set at 32.

NMR per 1,000 live births was 20 in 2010. The target for 2013 is 16.

The maternal mortality rate (MMR) per 100,000 live births was 229 in 2010. The target set for 2013 is 170. The MDG for MMR by 2015 is 134.

“Direct impact of reducing the health budget will be noticeable after some years,” said Marasini. The effect will be mostly seen in child health, maternal health and status of communicable diseases, nutrition and other preventive care programmes, he added.

Meanwhile, he said the health sector has been adversely affected with the government’s failure to introduce new programmes in the current fiscal.

Secretary at the ministry Praveen Mishra said the country has various challenges to address in child health, maternal health, and communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Human resource crisis in the health sector is another major challenge before the ministry, said Mishra.

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