Senior Reporter: Rejecting Transparency International Bangladesh’s (TIB) report on ‘irregularities’ and ‘corruption’ in the health sector during the COVID epidemic, Health Minister Zahid Malek said the allegations were baseless and motivated.
He made the statement at a press conference at the Secretariat on Monday.
Zahid Malik said, “The Ministry of Health has worked very transparently to deal with the epidemic. But Transparency International has done a very ‘transparent’ job. “
According to the TIB report titled ‘Good Governance in Coronavirus Crisis: Challenges of Inclusion and Transparency’, 22 percent of patients came to the hospital for treatment during the epidemic.
The report also alleges irregularities and corruption in government hospitals for charging between 400 TK and 10,000 TK as ‘illegal’ and for not providing information on services in private hospitals, abusing and inciting people to receive services.
Responding to this, the Health Minister said, “TIB does not care about the image of the country. That is why it presents misleading information. “
Asked about the nature of the TIB survey, he said, “We try to make the country’s image brighter, the country’s position better. It stays in our minds all the time. But many organizations, including the TIB, may not care. ”
The TIB report said that there was a lack of transparency in the government’s spending on vaccination against coronavirus in the country.
Responding to this, the health minister mentioned the number of vaccination centers. He said there are 759 permanent vaccination centers and 140,000 temporary vaccination centers across the country. Three and a half thousand permanent booths, one and a half lakh during the campaign.
“But TIB has taken information from 105 centers under their survey. Although 12 crores 84 lakh people have been vaccinated across the country, TIB has spoken to 1,800 people.
Commenting that the survey data was obtained by telephone, the health minister said that it was not “certain” how the patient and the patient’s identity were identified by telephone. In such a small-scale survey, ‘of course, accurate information was not given.
Zahid Malek also claimed that the allegation of bribery by TIB for vaccination was not correct.
“It has been said that they have to pay an average of TK 67 as a bribe to get vaccinated. Now, even the fakir does not take that money. ”
TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman told a news conference, “The health minister has said that more than TK 40,000 crore has been spent on management since the purchase of the vaccine. As we have seen from other sources, due to a lack of precise information from the government, about 18 thousand crore TK has been spent here. The government needs to be more transparent in these matters. “
Claiming that TIB’s allegations were “incorrect”, the health minister said the health ministry had maintained “maximum transparency” in buying coronavirus vaccines.
“Vaccines have been bought from China at a price close to the price that the government has bought from India. 100 million dose vaccines have been purchased from Covax through cost-sharing. And I got 90 million doses of free vaccine from Covex. ”
The health minister said that there was a ‘misunderstanding’ in the TIB’s report on the price of vaccines.
At a function in March, the health minister said that TK 40,000 crore had been spent on vaccines. He gave his explanation at the press conference on Monday.
“I was talking about TK 40,000 crore. This does not mean that the government of Bangladesh has spent 40 thousand crores TK. Bringing vaccines, renting a plane, keeping them, the price of syringes, running a vaccination program – altogether we have spent about 20 thousand crores TK.
“The remaining TK 20,000 crore is – we have calculated the price of the nine and a half crore dose of vaccine we got for free. Most of the tickers received as a gift are Pfizer, Modern Otter also has a price. Assuming that, the price of that vaccine is 25 thousand crores TK. Together, we have said that we have vaccinated the people of Bangladesh worth Rs 40,000 crore. ”
Apart from the health minister, senior secretary of health services Lokman Hossain Miah, secretary of health education department Saiful Hossain Badal, director-general of health department Prof ABM Khurshid Alam, and other officials were present at the press conference.