The director general of the health directorate has replied to the health ministry's letter saying that its MoU with Regent Hospital on treating Covid-19 patients was signed following directives of the immediate past health secretary.
Abul Kalam Azad, DG of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), submitted his reply to the ministry yesterday.
The DG in the explanation said former health secretary Ashadul Islam on March 19 gave a "file note" to the DGHS upon request of the chairman of Regent Hospital, a highly placed source said.
After getting the directives from the then health secretary, DGHS Director (hospitals and clinics) Aminul Hasan visited the hospital before signing of the memorandum of understanding, the source added.
The DG has submitted all documents related to his claims over signing of the MoU. He made it clear in the explanation that Health Minister Zahid Maleque was not involved in the process, said sources.
Despite repeated attempts, The Daily Star could not reach Ashadul Islam over the phone for comment as he did not answer calls.
The DGHS had inked the MoU with Regent in March 21, turning it into a dedicated Covid-19 hospital, in a ceremony attended by the health minister and many high officials.
The DGHS was aware that the hospital's licence had expired six years ago.
On July 7, a Rab mobile court raided Regent's Uttara branch and sealed it off on charges of issuing fake Covid-19 testing certificates and illegally charging patients fees for treatment.
Amid widespread criticism, the DGHS on July 11 said it was the health ministry's higher authorities who asked the directorate to sign the deal.
Irked at this, the ministry issued a letter to the DGHS DG asking him to explain in three working days what his office meant by saying "directed by higher authorities".
Ashadul Islam is now the senior secretary at the planning ministry.