Infected with syndicates
The ACC has found that syndicates at public hospitals, involving some of their employees, illegally took money from patients and their relatives in exchange for different services.
To run the syndicates, many of the employees managed to stay at the same workplace for long, according to an inquiry of the Anti-Corruption Commission.
ACC Commissioner M Mozammel Haque Khan handed over the inquiry report to Health Minister Zahid Malik at his office in the secretariat yesterday.
The Daily Star has obtained a copy of the report, which identified 11 “sources of corruption” in the health sector and came up with 25 recommendations to fight the graft.
However, the report does not have details about when and where the inquiry was carried out.
Irregularities and corruption exist in the process of recruitments, transfers and promotions in the sector which follows no policies in this regard, the report said.
A lack of skilled officials at the purchase committees of the directorate of health at central, district and upazila levels creates easy scope of misappropriation of government money.
Corruption takes place during the purchase of medicines, surgical equipment and other machines since there is no proper monitoring by the government, read the report.
“Different organisations under the health ministry buy many inessential machines and equipment for misappropriating money. There are allegations that nexuses are created with contractors to embezzle the money,” it said.
The ACC also said medical equipment is supplied to different upazila-level hospitals, which have no skilled manpower for operating the tools. As a result, those equipment remain unused for a long time and later go out of order.
In many cases, money is misappropriated in the name of supplying medical equipment to hospitals or repairing the tools, the report said.
The ACC found that “syndicates” are actively taking patients from government hospitals to the private ones. The syndicate members get commissions for doing so.
The report reads, “Usually, a group of influential people with the help of civil surgeons' offices set up diagnostic centres, although they lack proper equipment. Later, they influence doctors and hospital employees to send patients to those centres for unnecessary medical examinations.”
The report added that in absence of proper monitoring, hospitals do not provide patients with medicines, specified by the government, even if those are available there. “These medicines are sold in the black market,” it said.
The report said the ACC learnt that students got admission to private medical colleges but not on the basis of merit.
Besides, the Central Medical Store Depot (CMSD) at the Directorate General of Health (DGHS) awarded tenders to some “specific organisations”, it said.
Some pharmaceutical companies manufacture counterfeit and low-quality medicines. To sell them, the companies “influence” doctors who prescribe those to patients.
In its 25-point recommendation, the ACC asked to include experts in the purchase committees to stop corruption in procuring medicines and medical equipment; forming “receive committees” that will verify authentication of the demand; and surveillance committee to monitor activities of diagnostic and pathology labs.
Others recommendations included ensuring regular transfer of physicians and hospital employees, automation of revenue collection from the hospitals, setting up CCTV cameras to check brokers, and increasing the duration of internship of doctors to two years.
After receiving the report, Health Minister Zahid Malik said they would not allow any corruption in the health sector.
He said they had already transferred some “people” and that unnecessary purchase of medical equipment would be stopped.
The health ministry, in separate orders yesterday, transferred 23 officers and employees of different organisations under the ministry.
The ministry took the initiatives following a request from the ACC to transfer 23 “corrupt” officers and employees on an emergency basis.
Some corrupt, authoritarian and power abusing officers and staffers of different offices of the DGHS have created a strong nexus, taking advantage of working at the same place for a long time, the ACC said in a letter to the DGHS DG.
The ministry has also formed seven enquiry teams to look into the reason behind the absence of physicians at different hospitals and health complexes in Dhaka, Pabna, Kushtia, Mymensingh, Tangail, Dinajpur, Rajshahi and Rangpur.
The move came after teams from the ACC made a surprise visit to 11 government hospitals and health complexes on January 22 and found that 92 doctors out of a total of 230 were absent at their workplaces.