Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque has said that the report by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on the health sector of Bangladesh is "false and misleading".
"TIB's report is full of misinformation. It has presented a false report on the health sector when the sector is being internationally lauded during the crisis of Covid-19 pandemic," the minister said while addressing a programme on the occasion of the first death anniversary of Dr Mahmud Monwar, former assistant professor of the National Heart Institute, in Dhaka on Saturday.
"Doctors, nurses and other frontline fighters of the health sector have worked at the grassroots level, which TIB has not done, but it has been expressing memorised and fabricated criticism, sitting in an air-conditioned room, said the minister.
TIB said Covid-19 testing facilities and Covid-19 beds in the country have not increased but testing centres have been increased from one to 510 and there are over 15,000 Covid-19 beds in the country. Recently, about 1,000 new Covid-19-dedicated beds were added in Dhaka North Hospital, all of which have access to central oxygen and half of them have ICU facilities, he added.
TIB said the number of ICU beds in the country has not increased but since the beginning of the pandemic, ICU beds have increased by 300%. Earlier, there were only 200 ICU beds in the country which is now over 1,000, the health minister said further.
The minister also said that TIB has spoken of opacity in the vaccine purchase agreement with India, which is not true at all. Everyone in the country knows what was in the agreement with India and why India could not provide the rest of the vaccines.
What TIB has said about Bashundhara Isolation Centre, setting priority for vaccines and providing services to outbound passengers are also false and have a certain purpose. The organisation has criticised the vaccination programme whereas the vaccination has been praised all over the country, he added.
In the past, only one hospital in the country had a central oxygen system but at present, there are 134 such hospitals. People get Covid-19 treatment at home through telemedicine services. There has never been a shortage of medicine in the country and adequate oxygen reserves have been maintained. If there was any corruption anywhere, it was brought to justice at a fast pace. So this fabricated false report of TIB about the health sector is unacceptable, the minister said.
"They [TIB] have criticised the health sector for the sake of criticising, but they have not commented on why Covid-19 cases are increasing because they have not campaigned or played a role in controlling the spread of the virus," the minister said.
The problem of hospitals in the country has been existing for a very long time and it is not wise to expect that all problems will be solved overnight. However, the public is being misled by presenting untrue information about the health sector, he added.
An agreement has been signed with China on the purchase of vaccines. The government expects China to take the next step soon, the minister said, adding that fruitful discussions have been held with other countries too.
The minister has claimed that bringing allegations of corruption in the health sector have now become a "fashion" for many. None can show any major corruption in the health sector except false testing at a private hospital and corruption of a driver. Those who have committed irregularities in the health sector have been brought to justice.
At the meeting, the health minister wished peace to the soul of the late Dr Mahmud Monwar and conveyed his condolences to his family.
Secretary of Health Services Lokman Hossain Mia, Director General of Health Department Prof ABM Khurshid Alam, Health Affairs Secretary of Bangladesh Awami League Rokeya Sultana and other leaders were also present as special guests at the prayer mahfil presided over by Mir Jamal Uddin, Director, National Heart Institute.