Health minister objects to calling anti-corruption drives at hospitals ‘raids’ --says they are ‘inquiries’
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque, and the ministry’s Secretary Abdul Mannan, took on conflicting tones in discussing anti-corruption drives at hospitals on Sunday.
During a press briefing at the secretariat, the health minister objected to calling the anti-corruption drives “raids,” saying raids were only conducted at places where there were criminals.
The minister’s comments follow in the wake of several high-profile Covid-19 testing scams being discovered at various hospitals last month.
“Why are you calling them raids? Are raids conducted against hospitals? Inquiries are conducted against hospitals,” the health minister said.
“Raids are conducted in the Chittagong Hill Tracts where there are criminals,” he added.
However, Zahid Maleque also said legal action and drives against irregularities at hospitals would continue, even though he objected to the term “raid.”
Mentioning that the Health Ministry sent a letter to the Home Ministry on August 4 asking for a stop to unilateral raids at hospitals, the health minister said: “Combined action will be taken if irregularities are found at hospitals. They [the Home Ministry] will not go to any place alone. They will talk to us and we will take them with us, if needed.”
On the other hand, after a meeting with the Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) and owners of private hospitals and clinics at the Health Ministry, the ministry’s Secretary Abdul Mannan said: “The raids will not stop. We will not be the slightest bit soft on irregularities at hospitals. The letter was sent to the Home Ministry [on August 4] to ensure that there is coordination.
“The raids will not stop for a day or even a minute. Wherever we smell irregularities or get information on irregularities, we will go there very quickly. We have formed a taskforce and are thinking about providing our phone numbers. If we are called, the taskforce and law enforcement agencies will be mobilized immediately,” he added.
The Health and Family Welfare Ministry secretary further added: “We want coordination [with the Home Ministry] to ensure that we don’t rush to the same place together and keep raiding the same places.”
Abdul Mannan also said that action would be taken against private hospitals who do not apply to renew expired licenses by August 23.
“If an institution does not apply, it means that the institution does not care. Action will be taken against such institutions. The action could include cancellation of the license or postponement of hospital activities, depending on the rules,” the secretary said.
“For institutions that apply for renewal, we will try to resolve each of their licensing issues in due time,” he added.