Tackling the Covid-19 epidemic is now the first priority and issues like corruption come after that, the new director general of the health directorate said yesterday.
Some changes in the health sector will be visible within one or one and a half months, Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam said at his first virtual press briefing three days after taking charge of the Directorate General of Health Services.
"My first priority is to tackle the epidemic. We have to stay alive first; then we will concentrate on other issues," he noted.
Meanwhile, the DGHS transferred 28 assistant surgeons, asking them to turn up at their new workplaces in the capital by this noon.
At the virtual meeting, DGHS high-ups said it was a "routine reshuffle" for proper utilisation of manpower.
Replying to a query on coordination between the DGHS and the health ministry, Khurshid said the ministry has formed a steering committee to coordinate all the efforts to tackle the pandemic.
"Our goal is to overcome this pandemic… We will work in the days to come to dispel all your doubts over coordination between the DGHS and other government agencies.
"I will try my best to ensure that the initiatives see progress. I will take steps in this regard," said Khurshid, former head of the surgery department at Dhaka Medical College.
About his recent comment that liability for corruption lies with every person in the country, he said, "Every individual is a measuring stick for corruption. If you are not an honest person, it will not be possible to eradicate corruption through laws or rules no matter what position you hold."
He sought cooperation from journalists in finding loopholes in the health sector.
About the VIPs who take treatment abroad, he said, "This is a matter of patriotism. The DGHS cannot change the mentality of the VIPs, VVIPs or any other person."
TRANSFER OF 28 SURGEONS
Prof Nasima Sultana, assistant director general at the DGHS, said, "Many staffers were sitting idle at the makeshift hospital at Bashundhara International Convention Center as the number of patients there was low.
"For this reason, we have transferred some of them elsewhere. This is not linked to corruption or anything else."
Most of the 28 doctors had been attached to the Bashundhara Convention Centre Grid Hospital set up to treat Covid-19 patients.
Yesterday, the DGHS issued a circular, transferring 20 of them to Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital and the rest to the health office at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
The development comes at a time when the DGHS is under the spotlight over scams related to Covid-19 tests.
The health ministry on July 23 appointed Khurshid as the 27th DG of the DGHS after Prof Abul Kalam resigned.
It also appointed Dr Farid Hossain Miah as the new director (hospitals and clinics) on July 23, a day after his predecessor -- Dr Aminul Hasan -- was made officer on special duty.
The developments took place following a rift between the ministry and the DGHS over the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Regent Hospital, which was found issuing fake Covid-19 test reports.
The Regent Hospital scam surfaced after a Rab team raided the hospital on July 7.