Old age home: Take action against corrupt officials

Bangladesh Association for the Aged and Institute of Geriatric Medicine (BAAIGM) was established to protect the welfare and interests of senior citizens. The elderly people have nowhere to go if that institution suffers from infirmities.

According to the National Policy on Older Persons, 2013, persons aged 60 years and above are elderly. According to the latest data of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the number of senior citizens in the country is more than 15 million. But there are not many institutions to ensure their welfare and security.

Medicine expert professor AKM Abdul Wahed established BAAIGM in 1960 at his residence in Dhanmondi in the capital to ensure the health care of elderly people. Currently, there is a 50-bed Geriatric Hospital and Institute of Geriatric Medicine (IGM) in the Probin Bhaban at Agargaon and a 50-bed geriatric home at an adjoining building. There are 36 residents in the home. The home is being run with subsidies.

Many service institutions are subsidised, perhaps that is not a problem. The question is whether the committee leaders have spent the subsidy money on the welfare of the elderly people or for themselves. It needs to be investigated.

The association for the aged and the gerontology institute were managed by an elected committee consisting of senior members. On 6 February last year, the Department of Social Services appointed Muktar Hossain (joint secretary), director of the social security branch of the department, as an administrator of the institute on the complaint of irregularities.

What could be more unfortunate, if the committee made up of elderly people for the welfare of elderly gets involved in irregularities and corruption and whim? Why would that be? The institution for the elderly is not safe in the hands of people who get involved in irregularities. In that case, it was a right decision that the Department of Social Services cancelled the committee and appointed an administrator there. But this institution cannot run indefinitely with an administrator.

According to a Prothom Alo report, the Bangladesh Association for the Aged and Institute of Geriatric Medicine (BAAIGM) in Agargaon of the capital is on the verge of destruction due to internal disputes and various irregularities and corruption and whim of some people.

A report by a four-member committee formed by the government on 28 March last year also spoke about irregularities and the sorry state of the institution registered under the Department of Social Services. The investigation committee found the allegations of recruitment of staff through various irregularities, various types of corruption and sexual harassment against an official true.

Some 117 officers and employees of the BAAIGM are not getting their salaries for one year. In this situation, they have been on strike for half an hour every day since 3 February this year.

An institution formed for the welfare of the elderly with elderly people in the operating committee cannot be allowed to be destroyed like this. However, not only the committee leaders but also a section of workers are also involved in this destruction. Corruption was done with mutual cooperation.

There is also a question about the justification of the demands made by the officials and employees to abolish the practice of executive committee in the management of the institution and to construct a “Bangabandhu Probin Complex” under the supervision of the Department of Social Services. It is not that a new complex will not solve all the problems.

Social welfare minister Dipu Moni reportedly came to BAAIGM on 20 March and made inquiries. However, it is more important to solve the problem quickly than to inquire about it. It remains to be seen what action the minister takes in this regard.

Salaries and allowances should be paid to the employees before the Eid. Surely the social welfare minister can play an active role in this regard. Above all, legal action should be taken against those who were involved in irregularities and corruption, and misappropriated the funds of BAAIGM.