The bench of Justice Tariq ul Hakim made the announcement on Wednesday
The High Court has fixed August 9 for the hearing of a writ seeking its directives to ensure refunds to patients duped by Regent Hospital amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bench of Justice Tariq ul Hakim made the announcement on Wednesday.
Barrister Abdul Halim, accompanied by Advocate Ishrat Hasan, joined the virtual hearing for the writ while Deputy Attorney General Amit Das Gupta represented the state.
During the hearing, Advocate Ishrat Hasan said that the country had a total of 17,244 hospitals, and of them 5,000 did not have licences to operate.
“But the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) did not inform us about these hospitals.
“According to the law, there is no way a hospital can operate without a licence. But the government did sign a contract with those unlicensed hospitals [like Regent Hospital] to provide health services to Covid-19 patients.
“The law has given the DGHS the highest level of power to control and regulate hospitals, so much so that no one can even go to court against any hospital if the DGHS doesn’t register a written complaint against them,” she added.
In response, the court said that the lawyer wanted a list of unlicensed hospitals on the web.
"But there are many hospitals operating which do not have valid licences," the court said.
It mentioned that even the Institute of Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) and Birdem General Hospital have not renewed their licences. "How are these hospitals [Birdem and icddr,b] providing health services, then?" the court asked.
The court further said there is irregularities in the health sector, but the government is looking into it and taking action.
The court looked throught the writ and asked Ishrat Hasan to file it properly.
Ishrat later told Dhaka Tribune that the court had fixed August 9 for the next hearing.
Earlier on July 26, advocate Ishrat Hasan, who is director of the rights organization Children’s Charity Bangladesh Foundation (CCBF), filed the writ on behalf of the organization.
Ishrat Hasan told Dhaka Tribune: "Private hospitals are charging patients illegally and arbitrarily. Shockingly, two-thirds of hospitals do not have licences, even though the law requires a valid licence to treat people. According to Medical Practice, Private Clinics, and Laboratories (Regulatory) Ordinance, 1982, a licence is a must to run a private hospital and yet unlicensed private hospitals are being run in violation of the law.
“The Ministry of Health miserably failed to control and monitor these issues. Rather they contracted with unlicensed hospitals like Regent, which provided fake Covid-19 reports. The Ministry of Health did not even pay back the money owed to victims, let alone provide compensation. Having no other option, I filed this petition," she added.
In addition to refunds, the writ requested that the court order the authorities to publish a list of patients victimized by Regent Hospital and give Tk 25,000 as interim relief to each of them.
Furthermore, the writ asked the court to ensure that a list of hospitals and diagnostic centres with valid licences to conduct Covid-19 tests and treatment be published on the Health Ministry and DGHS websites.
The petitioner also asked the court to direct the authorities to form committees at every police station to monitor the activities of hospitals and diagnostic centres treating and testing Covid-19 patients.
The secretaries of the Health Ministry and Home Ministry, the director general of the DGHS, and the chairman of Regent Hospital have been made respondents to the writ.
Earlier on July 19, Barrister Abdul Halim sent a legal notice to the respondents on behalf of advocate Ishrat, asking for necessary action within 48 hours. However, they did not get a response.