Forged coronavirus tests

Health ministry and DGHS must take responsibility

RAB mobile court conducts a drive at city's Shahabuddin Medical College Hospital on 19 July 2020.
RAB mobile court conducts a drive at city's Shahabuddin Medical College Hospital on 19 July 2020. Prothom Alo file photo

The health ministry and DGHS have to take responsibility for the coronavirus certificate forgeries.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown us the dire state of our public health system. There has been a tangible failure to control the pandemic and total collapse of general health services including the management of COVID-19 patients Huge corruption in spending funds allotted to control coronavirus outbreak is no more a secret. The latest example is Shahabuddin Medical College Hospital (SMCH) at Gulshan, Dhaka. The private institution has been forging COVID-19 test reports.

Advertisement

The forgery and fraudulence being exposed over detection and treatment of COVID-19 is surprising. Such deceptive practices, risking people’s lives and health, are criminal offences. Those involved were granted permission by the concerned government authorities to carry out COVID-19 tests and provide treatment.

No one is taking responsibility for the Regent Hospital and JKG scams, or their contract with the DGHS (Directorate General of Health Services). Serious allegations have been raised over the irregularities, corruption and mismanagement in the health sector during this coronavirus outbreak. Without identifying the culprits, the health ministry and DGHS are busy blaming each other.

The blame game of the health ministry and DGHS will be of no use unless they are held accountable. Initiative on the part of the highest government authorities is required in this regard

Already it has been revealed that the DGHS had also approved five other private institutions along with Regent and JKG to test for COVID-19. None of the institutions, however, had preparation to run the tests. The institutions had been providing fake certificates without testing samples. After the forgery was revealed, DGHS revoked the permission, but it’s hard to detect how many people suffered due to the fake reports.

Advertisement

The DGHS should have granted the permission after surveying overall coronavirus detection preparedness and ability of the institutions. It should also have regularly monitored whether the institutions were providing proper reports. The DGHS did not even conduct any inspection before granting the approval, let alone regular monitoring. Why had the institutions been given a nod then? Had there been any unethical dealings, political pressure or other influence?

The DGHS' irresponsibility is evident. The DGHS revoked licenses of five institutions. Among these, Shahabuddin Medical College Hospital allegedly not only carried out virus detection, but also conducted antibody tests. It did not have the permission to do so. Following the allegation, RAB has detained an assistant director and an official raiding the hospital. Such audacity of the private hospitals is originated in the unscrupulous support or and irresponsibility of the concerned government authorities.

There is no scope to avoid the responsibility of these irregularities, corruption, negligence, and overall mismanagement in combating COVID-19 over the last four months. The blame game of the health ministry and DGHS will be of no use unless they are held accountable. Initiative on the part of the highest government authorities is required in this regard.