Graft in Chuadanga Hospital: Probe body visits almost a year later
The probe committee tasked with investigating alleged irregularities in procurement of medicine and medical equipment for Chuadanga Sadar Hospital and four upazila health complexes visited the district for the first time on Sunday, almost a year after its formation.
Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) formed the three-member committee on July 2 last year after two newspapers had published reports about massive corruption in the procurement of medicines and other medical equipment.
The head of the investigation committee, Bidhan Chandra Ghosh, told The Daily Star over phone that a primary investigation was launched to ascertain the truth of the incident.
"We have collected all documents required for the investigation. We can talk on the issue once we scrutinise everything," he said.
The procurement was made following a government allocation of Tk 11.65 crore for four upazila health complexes and Chuadanga Sadar Hospital in the 2019-20 fiscal year amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chuadanga Civil Surgeon Dr ASM Maruf Hasan formed a medical board, headed by then Chuadanga Sadar Hospital Resident Medical Officer (RMO) Dr Shamim Kabir, to complete the purchase, sources at Chuadanga Civil Surgeon's Office said.
The board then submitted a bill for reimbursement to the district accounts office attaching related purchase documents.
On June 28 last year, Dhaka-based daily Janabani anda local daily Paschimanchal published reports highlighting the extreme irregularities in the purchasing process. The reports alleged that materials worth only Tk 2.75 crore were purchased. No medicine worth Tk 4.5 crore was purchased but a bill for that amount was submitted and disbursed, the reports stated.
Following the reports, Khulna's directorate of health on July 2 formed the three-member probe body to investigate the matter.
Meanwhile, after the news was published, Dr Shamim Kabir filed a case under the Digital Security Act against two journalists -- Ahsan Alam, a Chuadanga correspondent of daily Janabaniand, and Saif Jahan, correspondent of Paschimanchal -- with Chuadanga Sadar Police Station on July 1.
Both the journalists were granted bail by the High Court on July 8 in the case.
Dr Shamim was transferred to Jhenaidah as Jhenaidah Sadar upazila health and family planning officer, the Civil Surgeon's Office sources said.
According to the investigation committee, it checked the stock of medicines purchased at the civil surgeon's office and all related documents. It also interrogated the civil surgeon of Chuadanga, the former RMO of Chuadanga Sadar Hospital, four upazila health and family planning officers, accountants and other officials concerned.
Contacted, Civil Surgeon Dr Maruf and Dr Shamim said they would not comment as the matter was under investigation.