Increase in district health budgets demanded

PESHAWAR - Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) has demanded increase in budget allocation for repair, operation and maintenance in district health budgets across the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The CGPA recent publication titled ‘Budget Analysis of Health Departments: Mardan, Peshawar and Swabi Districts’ reveals huge neglect for the repair and maintenance of the equipment and health infrastructure in the district health budgets in the three districts. In financial years 2013-14, total estimated health budgets for KPK province was Rs 19,108.77 million. This is a phenomenal increase of almost 150 per cent compared to 2012-13 estimated health budget, which stood at Rs 7646.44 million. However, this increase does not coincide with district health budgets. In 2012-13, total revised budgets for health in Swabi, Mardan and Peshawar districts was Rs 1584 million, which increased to Rs 1723.7 million in 2013-2014 estimated budgets, with only 8.8 per cent increase over the last year.

The study further reveals that per capita health expenditure of the district is around Rs 240 which is very low. The per capita spending of the district on health in 2013-14 for Peshawar, Mardan and Swabi are Rs 229, Rs 223 and Rs 268 respectively. This shows a steady rise from the per capita expenditure of the districts on health in the year 2011-12. The pattern prevails throughout the province. The first and foremost problem of the health sector is lower budget allocation in the budgets despite the fact that in KP Comprehensive Development Strategy, health sector was the priority sector for the provincial government.

In all three districts health budgets, a major chunk of health budgets goes to the employee’s related expenses. The mere comparison of 2011-12 with the year 2013-14 brings home the fact that percentage share of salary has increased and it has gained more than 10 percentage point (82 to 92) over the 3 years. Whereas the budgets of other heads have been compromised; e.g. operating expenses decreased from 17 per cent in 2011-12 to 8 per cent in 2013-14. The budget of assets, repair & maintenance and grants is almost frozen over the last 3 years. Again, given the rate of inflation, the budget allocations in assets, repair and maintenance and grants have actually deceases over the last 3 years. This is an alarming situation.

Failure to allocate more budgets in repair and maintenance heads may have turned health facilities dysfunctional. However the need is to accompany these expenses with expenses in other sectors to support the large presence of human resource base, budget analysis of health department concluded.