Current secretary says media will be briefed about further developments after examining DGHS explanation
The chief of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has told the Health Ministry that the Covid-19 testing and treatment agreement with the controversial Regent Hospital was signed upon orders from the former secretary of the ministry.
This information is in the explanation DGHS Director General (DG) Prof Dr Md Abul Kalam Azad submitted on Wednesday morning to the ministry, Health Service Division Secretary Md Abdul Mannan told Dhaka Tribune in the evening.
Mannan said, according to the documents Azad submitted, former Health Service Division secretary Md Asadul Islam had “verbally” asked the DG to go ahead with the deal, which was signed on March 21.
Asadul was transferred to the Planning Division in the first week of June.
“As he [DG Azad] claimed that the order was verbal, he has submitted lots of documents as part of his explanation which we will have to scrutinize. It will take two to three days to draw a conclusion as to who was responsible. We will then brief the media,” Mannan said.
As Health Minister Zahid Maleque was not in the office when DG Azad went to the ministry to submit the documents in the morning, he had left it with an official, said the ministry spokesperson Maidul Islam Prodhan.
On Saturday, the DGHS had said in a statement that the agreement between its Hospitals and Clinics Section and Regent Hospital was signed following directives from senior ministry officials.
It claimed that the agreement was signed on condition that the hospital will renew its expired licence as soon as possible. The hospital is yet to do that.
Following the statement, the ministry asked the DGHS chief to explain their claim in three days, apart from what was considered before the contract was signed, and what was done to ensure the conditions set in the agreement were met afterwards.
The back to back statement and letter from DGHS and the ministry, respectively, came amid an uproar over Regent Hospital’s Uttara and Mirpur branches swindling thousands of unsuspecting patients out of millions of taka on the pretext of Covid-19 treatment.
The directorate had come up with Saturday’s statement within four days after the ministry asked it to explain how a hospital without a licence managed to sign such an agreement with the authorities.
In the July 7 letter, the ministry had also asked the DGHS to investigate and submit its report on the collection of samples from home without permission as well as issuance of fake Covid-19 test reports by Regent Hospital branches.
DGHS was further asked to seal the branches and shut down their operations immediately. However, the directorate had managed to do that a day before the order came.
The directorate in Saturday’s statement said complaints from various sources had drawn attention to the hospital’s misconducts, which then led to the July 6 raid by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), and DGHS officials at the hospital’s two branches in the capital.
RAB later started a case against 17 people, including Regent Hospital Chairman and owner Md Shahed, over the Covid-19 related allegations and other irregularities.
Shahed was arrested by RAB in the early hours of Wednesday from Satkhira’s Debhata upazila, while he was trying to flee into India to avoid apprehension, after an eight-day-long manhunt.