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Better Budgeting Needed in Health Sector

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Laos will need stronger financial management planning and budgeting in the health sector if it is to provide free healthcare for people in target provinces.

For several years, health officials have lacked financial and management support from the government and partners in using money provided by various projects for free healthcare services in impoverished communities, a top health official has said.

Speaking at a meeting on the subject yesterday, Director General of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Planning and International Cooperation, Dr Pasongsidh Boupha, said it was necessary to ensure that support programmes allocated their budget in a way that was more effective.

The meeting was held to discuss capacity development and technical assistance to improve financial management planning and budgeting among provincial health sector personnel.

This was necessary to implement the five-year health sector development plan (2016-2020) and efforts to overcome challenges to meet the health-related Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and Sustainable Development Goal targets.

The meeting would help to strengthen financial management planning and budgeting in local systems, and the building and training of quality health officials, especially village physicians, midwives, specialists and health facilities, Dr Pasongsidh said. He stressed that free health checks for poor families, especially children and pregnant women, were needed.

In some communities, poor people have to pay for all services offered such as health checks at hospitals and dispensaries, he added.

A senior official who asked not to be named said that although maternal, newborn and child death rates in Laos have continued to decline, many poor women in remote areas of the country can’t access health services because they don’t have enough money to pay for a hospital visit.

He said hospitals and local dispensaries are not responding to the policy of the ministry and people in the target communities cannot access health services. These health facilities claimed that they didn’t have sufficient budget to comply with this policy.

Although the ministry does have funding to allocate to the treatment of poor people, it hasn’t been used according to the set plan.

This funding is intended to increase access to better quality health services for mothers and their children, provide health funding for the poor, and improve the quality of human resources in the health sector.

The project will be implemented in the provinces of Phongsaly, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Xayaboury, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Huaphan, Xieng Khuang and Xaysomboun.

Source: Vientiane Times