While middle-income countries are on the way to development, the Covid-19 crisis, the ratio of the health budget, achievement of universal health coverage (UHC), achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the foreign exchange reserve situation; Members of Parliament (MPs) have requested the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance) to continue funding the national immunization program of Bangladesh until at least 2030 to deal with the recent crisis and develop the country’s public health.
On September 6, Tuesday, in the cabinet room of the Jatiya Sangsad, this issue took place in a discussion meeting titled ‘Engaging Members of Parliament (MPs) for Strengthening National Immunization Programme’ between ‘Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum for Health and Wellbeing’ and Gavi Alliance Mission to Bangladesh. National development organization, Shastho Shurokkha Foundation; the secretariat of The Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum, coordinated the overall event.
Forum Chairman Prof. Dr. Md. Habibe Millat MP presided over the meeting to increase the budget in the country’s health sector, provide vaccine technology and prepare vaccines locally, solve the manpower crisis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and so on.
In the meeting, Mr. Ahsanul Islam Titu MP said, ‘Gavi’s funding for Bangladesh will end in 2027. We want Gavi to have this transition period at least till 2030. I think all concerned including the health minister should be prepared in this regard. A task force should be formed, a roadmap should be created. Our Prime Minister said, we don’t want free vaccines; We want to increase our capacity.’
On the other hand, Gavi’s country manager, Nilgan Aydogan said, ‘We are taking the issues discussed by parliamentarians as our action points. Bangladesh is developing its economy very fast. In this situation, our policy funding is reduced in the coming days. However, we are taking the matter seriously and keeping the suggestions of the members of Parliament in consideration.
Prof. Dr. Millat MP said, ‘Our budget in the health sector is less than what is needed, but the entire amount that is available is not being used. We demand that at least 2% of the GDP should be allocated to the health sector. But we are proud that we are becoming a developed country. We have to move forward with our partner organizations. They also need to be convinced that the transition needs to be smooth.’
Along with them, former health minister Prof. Dr. A.F.M Ruhal Haque MP, Shahiduzzaman Sarkar MP, Dr. Abdus Shahid MP, Arma Dutta MP, Habiba Rahman Khan MP, Kaniz Fatema Begum, Umme Kulsoom Smriti MP, Zakia Tabassum MP, Aparajita Haque MP, Umme Fatema Najma Begum MP, Adv. Syeda Rubina Haque MP joined in the discussion. Also, the Health Services Department, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Finance Department, Ministry of Finance, Department of Health, EPI, World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi Alliance Mission to Bangladesh team, World Bank, UNICEF and Shastho Shurokkha Foundation took part in the program.
Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance) is one of the leading donor organizations for global public health and vaccine assurance. The organization’s overall support contributes to the availability of vaccines in developing countries through the coordination of government, non-governmental organizations and CSOs. Since 2001, GAVI has been the largest funder of child immunization programs and health care development in Bangladesh. Apart from this, one of the tasks of the organization is to provide economic support for public health development in different countries, including the Covid-19 vaccination program, strengthening the health care system.