The Directorate General of Health Services allowed Rengent Hospital to collect swabs for coronavirus testing under an agreement which was signed according to a verbal instruction from the former secretary to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Asadul Islam, clarified DGHS director general Abul Kalam Azad in a reply to a the ministry on Wednesday.
Health secretary Abdul Mannan, while talking to reporters at the Secretariat in Dhaka, shared the information about the reply of Abul Kalam Azad and said that he had asked Azad to produce the proof of Asadul’s involvement.
‘He [DG Azad] said in his reply that the former secretary [Asadul Islam, who is now a senior secretary at the planning division] verbally instructed the DG to sign the agreement with Regent Hospital,’ Abdul Mannan said.
‘I asked for the proof of his claim. We are now looking into his claim,’ he said.
Without giving direct answer to his position that the agreement with Regent Hospital was done according to the instruction from the ministry high-ups, Azad said that he was not lying at all and the ministry had made made any comment yet.
DG Abul Kalam Azad submitted his papers to the ministry after the ministry on July 12 issued a show-cause notice to him seeking explanation of the directorate’s statement in a press release on July 11 mentioning the involvement of the ministry high-ups in the agreement between DGHS and Regent Hospital.
Asked about health minister Zahid Maleque’s claim that he was not aware of the agreement beforehand, Azad said, ‘The ministry high-ups do not necessarily mean the minister only.’
‘Let the ministry make a decision on my reply,’ he said.
Azad added that there was ‘no lack of coordination’ between the health ministry and DGHS and the act of seeking explanation from him by the ministry was a routine work.
Asadul Islam did not respond to the phone calls or texts messages about his comment on the ‘verbal instruction’ from him as claimed by the DGHS DG.
After the Rapid Action Battalion unearthed the irregularities of the Regent Hospital, accused of running hospital without licence, making business by falsifying COVID-19 certificates and charging huge amount of money from the COVID-19 patients breaching the agreement of treating patients free of cost, an apparent loggerhead between the ministry and the DGHS developed.
After much criticism about how the Regent Hospital succeeded in signing the sensitive agreement with the government to treat COVID-19 patients, the DGHS in a statement on July 11 said that the agreement was signed according to the instruction from the ministry high-ups.
A photo of the agreement signing event surfaced internet showing that the minister was sitting between the DGHS DG and the Regent Hospital chairman Md Sahed, with a number of secretaries including local government secretary Helal Uddin and the then health secretary Asadul Islam around them in smiling faces.
Sahed hogged the social media platforms with his photos taken with several top government and ruling Awami League leaders, showing a plethora of his connection with the government leaders.
After the DGHS statement, which also said the DGHS DG Azad did not know Sahed before signing the agreement, health ministry asked Azad to explain the process of the agreement, about the follow up of the agreement conditions and what the ministry’s instruction was meant.
Health minister Zahid Maleque said he ‘was aware’ about the agreement and that he himself ‘asked the secretaries’ to be present in the agreement signing formalities, according to news reports.
He told the reporters on Tuesday that the government was carrying out inquiry into the fraudulence activities of Regent Hospital and JKG Healthcare, which is also accused of fake Covid-19 certificate business.
‘If the allegations are found to be true, then stern action would be taken against them,’ he said.
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