Zahid Maleque comes under fire from BNP and Jatiya Party lawmakers
Lawmakers from the opposition came down hard on Health Minister Zahid Maleque, even calling for his resignation, over the crisis of oxygen and irregularities in the health sector.
The minister came under fire from BNP and Jatiya Party MPs during the parliament session on Saturday for his failure to ensure adequate oxygen for coronavirus patients in the country.
Maleque, however, was away from the House session at the time.
“Bogra has turned into a Covid hotspot. As many as 24 people have died from the virus in the past three days,” said BNP’s Gulam Mohammad Siraj.
“We have a shortage of high-flow nasal cannulas needed to supply high levels of oxygen. The health minister is absent in parliament today. It would have been better if he were here,” said the lawmaker from Bogra-6.
Earlier, Jatiya Party’s Md Rustum Ali Farazi raised the issue of corruption in the procurement of surgical masks.
“We had hoped that the minister would look into it, but instead he claimed the allegation was not true. And that is why I have come up with evidence,” said the MP from Pirojpur-3.
A parliamentary committee had already discussed the issue and it had also been reported in the media, he said, adding: “He [the health minister] should have probed it without ignoring the truth. I demand a proper investigation.”
The virus had been spreading at an alarming rate across the country, which called for immediate measures, said the opposition MP. He recommended a deployment of the army everywhere in the country.
His Jatiya Party colleague Kazi Firoz Rashid raised the issue of deaths at a Satkhira hospital due to oxygen shortage.
“Seven coronavirus patients died in just an hour due to oxygen shortage. It is the constituency of former health minister AFM Ruhal Haque,” said the Dhaka-6 MP.
“There should be a five-star hospital there. Ministers come and go. He [Ruhul] couldn’t even look after his own constituency.”
Slamming the incumbent health minister for negligence, the BNP’s Md Harunur Rashid, said: “He [Maleque] said that as [MPs] are also hospital chairmen they need to look after them.”
“His remarks make it seem as if we are neglecting our duties. It is offensive. The health minister has insulted the House. His comments should be expunged,” said the lawmaker from Chapainawabganj.
Citing media reports, Kishoreganj-3 lawmaker Md Mujibul Haque said there were no oxygen facilities in hospitals in 37 districts.
“The health minister compares our health care facilities with those of the US. He has claimed that a lot of work was done in the past year.
“If five patients are receiving oxygen at a hospital, then 20 are waiting for their turn. They are dying simply because there is no oxygen available,” he told parliament.
Accusing Maleque of not visiting the hospitals suffering from equipment shortages, the Jatiya Party leader said: “All he [Maleque] does is attend Zoom meetings.”
He also raised the issue of the recent resignations of the health ministers of New Zealand and the UK.
He said: “The UK health minister had to resign over a kiss. Is our health minister human? I don’t understand! He has no sense of shame. He should resign.”