The Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has urged the government to overcome its shortcomings in Covid-19 management, instead of criticising the civil society organisation dedicated to fighting against corruption.
The Bangladesh branch of Berlin-based multinational non-government organisation Transparency International on Tuesday came up with the call in a press statement to explain its side against Health Minister Zahid Maleque's criticism over the recently published TIB study.
At an event on the previous day (Monday), the minister said the TIB-claimed lack of transparency in the government's spending on the Covid-19 vaccination was misleading, and they might make a legal move against the TIB, if necessary.
Meanwhile, TIB's statement said they conducted the study, published on 12 April, in compliance with scientific methods. "We have taken interviews of some 6,500 people in total – 4,015 in-person, 1,800 over the phone, and 671 for qualitative information – from 43 districts under the eight divisions," it reads.
Besides, the researchers also gathered information from different government and non-government organisations' websites, published news by print and electronic media and properly analysed them, it said, adding there was no room for questioning the methods of the study.
"We are ready to explain all the issues on which the health minister disagreed. We can arrange a meeting with the minister on his permission," the TIB said.
It also thanked Zahid Maleque for admitting that the government spending on Covid-19 vaccine procurement was Tk20,000 crore, which the minister earlier said Tk40,000 crore.
"This is actually an amendment of the minister's earlier statement and a justification of the TIB's study," the organisation said in the press statement.
Earlier at Monday's event, the health minister also said, "We strongly denounce the recent statement by the TIB."
"We have served about 13 crore people but TIB conducted a survey of only 1,800 over mobile phones. The survey size is very small and it cannot show the actual picture," he added.
"No one came forward when there was a Covid-19 vaccine crisis in the country. Now that the situation has improved, it is not right to confuse the people of the country", the minister said, adding that the vaccination programme has been thoroughly transparent.
Bangladesh is a democratic country, therefore no legal action is taken when people or organisations express their opinion freely.
However, a legal move can be made, if necessary, for the interest of the country and its people, the minister noted.
"We have provided vaccines to 75% of the total population which is more than the World Health Organisation's estimate. I can say we are one of the most successful countries in the world in terms of distribution of vaccines," he said.