Health ministry asks director general who dictated Regent Hospital deal on COVID-19

The health ministry has demanded explanations of the Directorate General of Health Services about its comments that it had signed a contract with Regent Hospital for treatment of COVID-19 patients on orders from the ministry “high-ups”.

In a letter to Director General Abul Kalam Azad on Sunday, the ministry gave the directorate three days to come up with the “explanation”.  

Deputy Secretary Sharmin Akter in the letter also asked Azad what factors the directorate had considered before signing the deal and what steps it had taken to inspect the hospital, and check its papers, machinery, manpower and lab facilities - “conditions required to be fulfilled for the deal”.

The directorate on Saturday issued a statement to explain its role in the contracts signed with Regent and JKG Health Care, private facilities mired in fake COVID-19 test report scandals.

Facing criticism over a fake COVID-19 test report scam involving Regent and JKG Health Care, the directorate issued a statement on Saturday, defending Azad.

The directorate said Azad did not know Regent Chairman Mohammad Shahed before the signing of deal on orders from the “high-ups” at the health ministry. later 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 directorate also said Uttara and Mirpur branches of the hospital appeared suitable for COVID-19 treatment in inspections but it did not get its licence renewed.

The directorate finally signed the deal on Mar 21 on condition that Regent would renew the licence. It said the decision to sign the deal aimed to inspire other private hospitals and clinics to step forward for COVID-19 treatment.