A government probe committee has found five officials of National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital to have been negligent in preserving and protecting hospital equipment, including intensive care unit ventilators, said a report submitted to the High Court yesterday.
The five officials are: AMM Shariful Alam, a director and project director between May 3, 2007 and February 8, 2009; Farhad Halim, who was project director from March 16, 2004 to May 3, 2007; Professor Mollah Obaidullah Baki, a professor between August 16, 2009 and May 19, 2013; Prof Md Moarraf Hossain, a director and project director between December 31, 2014 and June 6, 2019; and Prof Manosh Kumar Bashu, who has been the chief of the anaesthesia department since February 7, 2015.
Besides, Prof Md Hafizur Rahman Ansary, who was the director at the NICRH from February 8, 2009 to August 16, 2009, did not take any initiative to install ICU ventilators and Prof Sheikh Golam Mostafa, who was the director and project director from May 19, 2014 to August 3, 2014, "did not have the time" to set up the ICU ventilators, the probe committee said.
The probe committee, led by the health ministry's Additional Secretary Md Sirajul Islam, submitted the report before the HC yesterday through Deputy Attorney General Amit Talukder, as per its January 2 suo moto order.
After going through the report, the HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman expressed dissatisfaction because the report did not mention whether any action had been taken against the NICRH officials for their negligence.
The court asked the government authorities concerned to inform it of the steps taken against the officials within a week.
The HC bench set February 23 as the date to pass further orders on the issue.
Following a report titled "ICU on sickbed" published in The Daily Star on January 2, the HC bench issued the suo moto rule on the same day and directed the government to suspend the retirement benefits of Prof Md Moarraf Hossain for his negligence in preserving and protecting hospital equipment.
It also ordered the health secretary and the director general of the Directorate General of Health Services to form a committee and conduct an enquiry into the allegations of negligence by the NICRH authorities, and submit a report before the court upon its completion.
In the rule, the court asked the government authorities concerned to explain as to why the reported negligence of the NICRH authorities should not be declared illegal.
SC lawyer Manoj Kumar Bhowmick placed The Daily Star's report before the HC bench, seeking necessary orders on January 2.
The NICRH, situated in Mohakhali, is the hospital of choice for patients in the low-income group.
According to an International Agency for Research on Cancer report released last year, about 1.08 lakh people die of cancer while 1.5 lakh are infected with the disease every year in Bangladesh.