Former health secretary ‘dictated’ Regent deal, says health services DG

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2020-07-16 02:39:12 BdST

The Directorate General of Health Services has claimed they had signed a deal with Regent Hospital on verbal “orders” from former secretary Ashadul Islam.

Director General Abul Kalam Azad on Wednesday wrote to the health ministry explaining the DGHS’s earlier statement that the ministry’s “high-ups” dictated the deal even though the private facility did not renew its licence for years.

“But there are no documents,” incumbent Health Services Secretary Abdul Mannan said of Azad’s claim. “The (former) secretary has denied it. The truth will come out through more investigation,” he added.

The directorate in a statement on Jul 11 said Azad did not know Regent Chairman Mohammad Shahed before the signing of the deal. 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.

Neither Azad, nor Ashadul answered phone calls for comments on Wednesday.

The government transferred Ashadul to the Planning Division in early June amid questions over the handling of a scam over the supply of masks to hospitals during the coronavirus crisis.

Besides Azad and Ashadul, Health Minister Zahid Malik and other top officials were present at the signing of the deal with Regent Hospital’s Mohammad Shahed on Mar 21.

The minister on Tuesday said he had no prior knowledge of the deal. "The health directorate followed the procedure and assigned the hospital. If the ministry gave any orders, it would be in the file. Let's see what their explanation is," he said.

The government has faced intense criticism for the signing of the deal with Regent, now shut down after raids earlier this month revealed it issued fake COVID-19 reports without testing samples to thousands of patients to embezzle tens of millions of takas.

Moreover, the hospital demanded fund from the government even after it had charged coronavirus patients hundreds of thousands of takas each.

The RAB arrested Shahed on Wednesday on charges of fraud, including the ones involving the fake test report scam.