Abul Kalam Azad, director general of health services, claimed that he did not know Regent Hospital Chairman Mohammad Shahed alias Shahed Karim before the signing of a contract for the treatment of Covid-19 patients at the private facility, bdnews24.com reports.
Facing criticism over the fraudulent actions of Regent Hospital, the Directorate General of Health Services issued a statement on Saturday, defending Azad. The directorate said it signed the contract with the private facility on orders from the “high-ups” at the health ministry.
The news agency reached Assistant Director Zahangir Kabir, who signed the DGHS statement, asking him to clarify who the high-ups were. Kabir did not specify any person but referred to the health ministry as a whole saying the ministry is the higher authority over the directorate.
The DGHS also responded to a claim that Azad knew about fake Covid-19 test reports issued by JKG Health Care, an opaque outfit that trained volunteers for sample collections.
“A quarter with vested interests is trying to tarnish the directorate’s image by misleading the media with imaginary and false information,” the DGHS said in the statement on Saturday.
It said the directorate had initiated a memorandum of understanding with Regent “on instructions from the health ministry”.
The Uttara and Mirpur branches of the hospital appeared suitable for Covid-19 treatment in inspections but it did not get its licence renewed, according to the statement.
The directorate finally signed the deal on condition that Regent would renew the licence soon. The move aimed to inspire other private hospitals and clinics to step forward for Covid-19 treatment.
“The director general had never even seen Mohammad Shahed, except on TV talk-shows, before the signing of the deal on March 21, let alone knowing him,” the statement said.
The Rapid Action Battalion on July 06 raided the hospital and found it had earned tens of millions of takas from thousands of patients by issuing reports without conducting tests on collected samples.
The hospital also asked the government for fund saying it provided free treatment even after charging each patient hundreds of thousands of takas despite shoddy facilities. It had no lab. The lab-like facility reportedly had a refrigerator with fishes stored along with samples.
The DGHS said Shahed came to the directorate several times after the deal and boasted his links to influential people.
In explanation of its role in the JKG scam, the directorate said it had never thought the organisation would act fraudulently.
Ariful Chowdhury, the chief coordinator of JKG, is the owner of Oval Group, an event management company that worked for the health ministry in 2018.
His proposal to collect samples for free by training volunteers looked good to the directorate amid a scarcity of manpower for Covid-19 testing, according to the statement.
The DGHS revoked its permission on June 24 barring JKG from collecting samples, setting up kiosks and training volunteers after the arrest of Ariful and four others for their alleged involvement in the fake test report scam.