Bangladesh’s fight against COVID-19: Corruption the main obstacle

by Mohammad Kepayet Ullah    25 July 2020

Corruption in the health department is like a fairy tale. Fourth class employees own hundreds of thousands of money — this story is found in the book of fairy tales. Abjal of the Department of Health has made that myth a reality. However, those involved in the health sector say that Abjal is not one in the health department, there are several of Abjals scattered everywhere, Abjals rule the Department of Health. Maybe for some reason one Abjal has been caught. However, even after being caught, he is in comfort in Canada. Now we are hearing the name of Mithu Syndicate again. Since there is more thing to buy in the health department during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is also more corruption. Buying unnecessary things, buying at high prices, giving away one thing for another. There are various levels of corruption in the Department of Health. In different hospitals, things are bought that are never opened. It was seen that there is MRI machine in any upazila health complex, but there is no operator. Items worth Tk 9 lakh are bought for Tk 90 lakh. American products are billed, but Chinese products are supplied. If there is an agreement between the people on both sides of the table, there is no problem in altering things if there is a compromise between the two ends. The transaction can take place over the table, regardless of the quality or need of the product. If there are Abjals at the other end of the table, then there must be sweets at this end. In most cases, the Abjals are hidden. For example, now JMI’s Razzak, Regent’s Shahed, JKJ’s Arif or Dr. Sabrina are the topics of our discussion, not so much about the Abjals of that side.

Although there are various institutional allegations and counter-allegations, the culprit has not been identified precisely. But you don’t have to be Masood Rana to find out who was the partner of JMI or Regent or JKG on that side. If you follow some steps, you will recognize by matching some two to four. But let’s match that step by step.

I thought the Department of Health would be a little more restrained during Corona time. There could be two reasons behind the idea that they could have plundered the humanitarian situation in the event of a global pandemic, or at this time everyone would be watching the health sector, so they could have been a little more restrained in fear. But the Department of Health has proved that their nature is like Dheki (seesaw). Dheki (seesaw) does the same work if it goes to heaven. No matter how terrible the pandemic is, corruption is going on in the health department, it will continue in parallel. On the contrary, some have entered the competition on how to become rich by capitalizing on the pandemic. But this time they are gambling on corruption with people’s lives. JMI stirred up by supplying fake N95. However, JKG and Regent came and opened the Pandora’s box of the Department of Health. Now the “bite” is going on. The old game of imposing liability has begun.

Like playing pillow, no one wants to touch the pillow. However, in this game of imposing liability, the advantage of the general people like us is that many dirty things will come out, many masks will be removed and we will be able to see their faces. In this opportunity we will also be able to recognize the corrupt.

Many names are coming forward in the Regent and JKG scandal, many have been caught. JKG CEO Ariful Haque Chowdhury has been caught after the chairman. Sabrina Arif Chowdhury too. Regent’s Shahed was also caught from Satkhira while fleeing by boat after wearing a burqa.

As I said before, it is not difficult to find out who the people on that side of the table are. At the very beginning, as the only private hospital, the two branches of the Regent at Uttara and Mirpur were highly praised for treating COVID-19 patients. Thus, special arrangements have to be made in the hospital for the treatment of COVID-19.

There has to be a supply of high flow oxygen, there has to be a good ICU system. But now it is known that special arrangements are far away. Regent is not a hospital in that sense. But they got the opportunity to treat COVID-19 from the very beginning. Even if a rickshaw puller is asked about the names of 50 private hospitals in Dhaka, he will say the name of the Regent Hospital. How did such a hospital get such a big opportunity? Once you answer this question, the faces of the people on that side of the table will become clear. An explanation from the Department of Health, sent on July 11, said, “In March, the number of COVID-19 patients in the country suddenly increased. No private hospital wanted to admit COVID-19 patients. But many patients preferred private hospitals or clinics. At that time, Regent Hospital expressed interest in dedicating two clinics in Dhaka’s Uttara and Mirpur as COVID-19 Hospitals.

There are many questions here. No private hospital wanted to admit COVID-19 patient, this claim of the Department of Health is not entirely true. I heard for myself, the owner of Labaid Hospital at the very beginning, Shamim said in a television talk show that they also want to be with the government in tackling corona like dengue. But then no private hospital was allowed to test or treat, except Regent.

If the claim of the Department of Health is true that no private hospital wanted to admit COVID-19 patients, then that too will be considered as a failure of the Department. Here are my many questions: Did the Department of Health specifically propose a private hospital? Has anyone refused? Is there any written or oral evidence of rejection? Why weren’t they given a chance even after asking for Labaid Hospital? Do private hospitals have the right to choose whether or not to admit patients as they wish?

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