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Dhaka Tribune

Swachip desperate as AL tenure nears end

Update : 27 Aug 2013, 06:48 PM

A sense of desperation seems to have gripped the ruling party-backed doctors, as the government moves closer to the end of its tenure, leading to a crumbling administrative chain of command in the country’s health sector.

Allegations are rife that the leaders of the Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad (Swachip), the ruling Awami League-backed doctors’ association, has been trying to interfere in the process of recruitment, posting, transfer and foreign tours for doctors and procurement of equipment.

Due to the strengthening of stranglehold by some of the powerful and influential Swachip leaders, the health sector top brass, including the director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), are not being able to take administrative decisions independently.

Seeking anonymity, a number of high-ranking health sector officials told the Dhaka Tribune that the Swachip leaders had formed themselves into various groups, all of them equally influential.

They said some of the Swachip leaders were pressurizing them, directly or indirectly, to finalise the recruitment, posting and promotion of candidates according to their preferences.

Some of the Swachip leaders refuse to leave the offices of the health officials, ruthlessly forcing them to sign the files according to their requirements.

Moreover, the internal feuds between conflicting Swachip groups have given rise to new problems for the health officials. If they endorse the candidate of a particular group, then the rival Swachip group gives them a hard time.

However, top Swachip leaders, including its Secretary General Dr Iqbal Arsalan, have denied such allegations.

In the ensuing melee, the health officials cannot take any decision independently and have to wait for the health minister to decide, leading to delays in the provision of health services.

The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that some of the health officials have stopped attending their offices, feigning illness to avoid unpleasant encounters with the Swachip leaders.

Dhaka Shishu Hospital crippled

The Dhaka Tribune has run several stories in the past few weeks regarding the crumbling chain of command at the Dhaka Shishu Hospital.

The country’s biggest healthcare facility for children has been without a chairman of the governing body, the highest decision making forum of the hospital, for more than five months. The authorities have failed to finalise the appointment due to intensive lobbying by the Swachip groups for their respective candidates.

The hospital is still to be allotted a budget for the ongoing fiscal because the governing body has not been able to hold a meeting since the previous chairman resigned in March.

There are allegations that the earlier chairman’s resignation was due to the pressure exerted by the rival Swachip leaders.

Professor Dr Abdul Aziz, president of Dhaka Shishu Hospital unit of Swachip, alleged that the hospital had reached the verge of destruction because of the inefficiency of the directors. He demanded an immediate appointment in the vacant post of chairman of the governing body.

The biggest fear is that in absence of funds, the hospital might not be able to provide free treatment to poor children from September.

Allegations of graft in dghs recruitment

The health directorate is currently in the middle of a recruitment process for the vacant posts of third and fourth-class employees in nine districts.

The Dhaka Tribune has also learnt that a number of influential Swachip leaders, ministers, state ministers, advisers, secretaries and political leaders have come up with their own lists of recommended candidates. Junior health minister Mujibul Haque himself has reportedly recommended 400 names.

There are allegations that a section of DGHS officials has recently published the results without the knowledge of the director general as he declined to entertain the recommendations set by the influential figures.

Recruitment test results of dgfp witheld

The Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP) has failed to publish the results of a computerised test, held more than two months back, due to the increasing pressure of recommendations by the Swachip groups, said Prof Dr Mahbubur Rahman, a member of the DGFP recruitment council.

Empty box drama at nicvd

The Dhaka Tribune had recently run a story on how a contractor supplied an empty box to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), in place of the equipment that he was supposed to provide to the hospital and tried to get paid Tk10m for it. In this case too, a group of Swachip doctors were reportedly involved. The contractor while talking to the Dhaka Tribune alleged that he had been a victim of “dirty politics” by the doctors.  

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