Dhaka Medical College authorities yesterday cleared the confusion about their request for Tk 20 crore from the government for food and accommodation of their healthcare workers, just a couple of days after the prime minister expressed doubt in this regard.
DMCH Director Brig Gen AKM Nasir Uddin held a press conference in the hospital to share the expenditure details and clarify any confusion.
On June 29, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in parliament said Tk 20 crore for hotel rent and food for medical college workers seems to be a bit unusual to her.
She said this after Deputy Opposition Leader and Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader asked the parliament why DMCH required Tk 20 crore for food and accommodation for their health workers.
"We're investigating as to why it is so unusual. We'll take action if there were any irregularities there or in any other places," Hasina said.
Social media too has been rife with rumours about the budget.
Brig Gen Nasir said, "We had told the ministry that we will have to spend Tk 26 crore. They agreed to give Tk 20 crore, but that has not been given yet, so we have not spent any money. We are just accruing bills.
"The rule is that healthcare workers will work for seven days, stay in quarantine at a hotel for 14 days and spend time in isolation at home for another week. Every day for three weeks, we have to bear the food and accommodation costs of 1,894 healthcare workers."
As Railway General Hospital is attached to DMCH, their staffers' food and accommodation are also being paid for by DMCH, he added.
On May 2, the hospital first opened its doors to Covid-19 patients by turning the "old" Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit into a dedicated hospital for coronavirus patients, and on May 16, the DMCH-2 hospital building followed suit, which means that the burn unit has been operational for nine weeks (or a 3-week cycles) and DMCH-2 has been operational for seven weeks.
Speaking to The Daily Star, Nasir said hotel rooms cost from Tk 350 to Tk 5,500 per night. Rooms in 30 hotels have been rented, he added.
The hotels range from Hotel Shalimar Intl in Kamalapur, Hotel Osmani Intl in Wari, Hotel Melody International in Nawabpur to Hotel La Vinci in Farmgate and Dhaka Regency Hotel and Resort. The room and hotel depends on the position and seniority of the healthcare worker.
He claimed that bills rack up to approximately Tk 13.6 crores per month.
"We are paying a contractor Tk 500 per day for the food of each health worker," said added. So, the food for 1,894 workers for two months costs over Tk five crore.
"We are also paying for transportation of health workers from hotels to hospitals."
These include 11 air-conditioned microbuses, one air-conditioned 26-seater tourist coach, two 45-seater non-AC buses and four double-decker buses.
"The cost for transportation is approximately Tk 47 lakhs per month, and about a crore for two months," claimed Nasir.