The government has waived the duty on raw materials for cancer drugs in the proposed national budget for the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2019-20.
This waiver will help make cancer medicines cheaper for patients in the country.
Presently, the duty on two such raw materials, Mitotane and Brigatinib, is 10 per cent. But there will be no duty on them and other raw materials in the next fiscal year.
However, the existing 2.4 per cent VAT rate for drugs will remain unchanged.
Meanwhile, the government has proposed an increased allocation of Tk 257.32 billion for the health sector in the national budget.
The amount is 4.91 per cent of the total budget outlay of Tk 5231.90 billion.
The proposed allocation for the sector in FY 2018-19 was Tk 233.83 billion or 5.2 per cent of the total budget outlay of Tk 4645.73 billion.
But in the revised budget for FY '19, the amount came down to Tk 223.40 billion.
In his budget speech in parliament on Thursday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said, "I propose to allocate Tk 25,732 crore (Tk 257.32 billion) for the Health Services Division, and the Health Education and Family Welfare Division, which was Tk 22,336 crore (Tk 223.36 billion) in FY 2018-19."
He also said that currently 12 ministries and divisions are implementing programmes related to health and family welfare. The allocation for this purpose in FY 2019-20 is Tk 29,464 crore (Tk 294.64 billion), which is 1.02 per cent of GDP and 5.63 per cent of total budget allocations.
Of the total allocation of Tk 257.32 billion for the sector in the upcoming fiscal, Tk 199.45 billion has been proposed for health services division and Tk 57.88 billion for medical education and family welfare division.
The finance minister said the projects undertaken by the government to ensure health service include modernisation and expansion of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, establishment of nephrology units and kidney dialysis centres in government medical college hospitals and all district headquarters hospitals, and establishment of cancer treatment units in all medical college hospitals at the divisional level.
"Besides, steps have been taken to establish medical college hospitals at Hobiganj, Nilphamari, Netrokona, Magura and Naogaon districts. Alongside, steps have been taken to undertake projects to construct hostels with modern facilities, establish medical waste treatment, and create child cardiac units in each divisional hospital."
He also said the government has created 3,000 posts for midwives with a view to reducing the maternal mortality rate. A total of 5,100 senior staff nurses were recruited in 2018.
Three nursing colleges and five nursing hostels for boys will be established in FY2019-20 to expand nursing education, he added.
In FY 2019-20, Institutes of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) will be established on the campuses of eight medical college hospitals in the country, he added.
The government will also construct a 1,000-bed super specialised ward and a one-point check-up centre, introduce afternoon health services, and construct a cancer building to modernise the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, he said.
A world class bone-marrow transplant unit will be established at the University, together with vertical expansion of OPD Bhaban-1 and OPD-Bhaban-2 to enhance the scope of services for general patients, said the minister.
He also said the government has undertaken steps to recruit as many as 9,792 medical officers to address the growing needs among citizens for health services.
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