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'Don't spread misinformation:' DGHS chief slams media outlets, public health experts

  • Published at 03:27 pm April 14th, 2021
Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam Courtesy

DGHS director general asks everyone to be compassionate towards doctors, nurses as they have been working tirelessly to treat Covid-19 patients while risking their lives

The chief of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Prof Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, has heavily criticized some news outlets for recently publishing articles on Bangladesh's healthcare system, saying they were spreading misinformation. 

The DGHS director general also reproached public health experts for appearing on various television talk shows and making what he called confusing remarks on the country's health sector.

“They did not stand by any patient, nor did they come to our office. They are confusing people by providing misleading information while staying in safe places themselves,” he said while speaking at a virtual press conference arranged by the DGHS on Wednesday.

Some recent news reports had lowered the morale of the health professionals and workers, he claimed.

The DGHS chief said the medical community had been considering journalists as “comrades-in-arms” since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.

Also read: IGP instructs police officials to enforce restrictions effectively

He continued: “We were fighting this war with their [journalists] cooperation. But all of a sudden, I have noticed that some media houses are criticizing us in a way that undermines our morale … This is unprecedented. They should instead critique our work to point out any mistakes made by healthcare providers.

“We are human beings and we are not above making mistakes. You are here to draw attention to our oversights … But if you put us in an unfavourable position with hostile criticism at such a crucial moment, we will become demoralized.”

Stating that healthcare professionals had been working tirelessly for over a year to treat Covid-19 patients even as they had put their own lives at risk, he said: “At such a time, we hope that you [the media] will consider our efforts with compassion and provide us with guidance.

“I am not blaming every newsman. I know that most of them are with us. Only some among them are doing that [vicious criticism]. I do not know what their intention is,” he added.

Controversy regarding isolation centres

Mentioning the recent news report on Bashundhara Isolation Centre, the DGHS official said: “A couple of days ago, it was reported by a media outlet that we had made the Bashundhara Isolation Centre vanish.”

Saying that the word “vanish” had an insulting connotation, the chief of the health directorate stated: “The Bashundhara Isolation Centre was not operating the way it was supposed to. There was a lot of valuable equipment, there were many beds [sitting unused]. We have dispersed them to different districts, upazilas and hospitals as required.”

“I have the list [of the distributed items],” Prof Khurshid Alam said, before asking reporters to visit the DGHS office to verify such facts.

A lot of misleading reports had been published regarding the DNCC Market isolation centre in Mohakhali as well, complained the DGHS DG.

“Meanwhile, a 200-bed ICU on the 8th floor of the centre is being launched this week. There are about 900 beds throughout the rest of the building, each with oxygen supply,” he said.

Condemning some public health experts for spreading misinformation on television talk shows, the DGHS chief advised them to instead stand by the health department and use their knowledge for the greater public good. “[What you are doing now] is truly unjust. It just goes to show your irresponsibility.”

“Write against me if I have said something wrong, I will heed it. But think of the doctors for a moment — they are not above making mistakes, they are only human … you have to understand that. They are ceaselessly providing you with medical care with the limited resources at their disposal,” Prof Khurshid Alam said in his concluding remarks.

DGHS Additional Director General (Planning and Development) Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, Director (Disease Control) Dr Md Nazmul Islam and Line Director (Non-communicable Disease Control) Dr Md Robed Amin, among others, were present at the media briefing. 

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