A latest study found corruption and irregularities in the health sector in the preparation, planning, and rapid response to stem the Covid-19 pandemic.
The study conducted by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) also revealed that during the coronavirus emergency, the procuring entity -- in this case the DGHS -- used direct procurement method in various projects violating The Public Procurement Rules 2008; in many cases purchased through verbal orders.
The anti-graft watchdog disclosed the findings in its second report on “Governance Challenges in Tackling Coronavirus” released on Tuesday.
A few syndicates are controlling all procurements in the health sector – a section of officials of Ministry of Health, DGHS, CMSD, ACC, and some senior officials of different hospitals are allegedly involved with these syndicates, according to the study.
Without forming expert committee and verifying proposed cost, the entity installed centralised liquid oxygen tanks and pipelines in 23 hospitals; additional Tk 1,660 million will be spent for over-estimation, it said.
Issuing purchase orders to an automobile company for PPE supplies; the company withdrew Tk 90 million as advance but did not supply the products, the study pointed out.
The budget for procuring PPE in a donor funded project was Tk 500 million, but the entity disbursed onlyTk 120 million.
In this procurement they did not inform the quality assurance committee about the procurement. Low quality PPE were already sent directly to the district level hospitals after they were refused by DGHS store, the study said.
The PPR, 2008 was violated in procurement under a donor-funded project. The procurement was processed manually instead of using E-GP system, it stressed.
The procuring entity used the direct tender method instead of open tender methods as a pretext for the COVID-19 crisis. Besides, although it was supposed to collect tenders from multiple bidders, it collected only one tender from a single bidder violating Rule of PPR 75 (2).
Work order worth Tk 310 million was placed through direct procurement, although according to Rule 76 (1) of PPR, the maximum limit of such direct procurement from a single bidder is Tk 2.0 million, as per the study.
The procuring entity did not form a sub-committee for preparing technical specification of procurement violating Rule 8 (14) of PPR.
Corruption in sample testing
The DGHS signed a MoU with a private hospital as COVID dedicated hospital, licence of the hospital had expired six years ago. They also signed another MoU with a fake organisation.
This hospital issued fake COVID-19 certificates and charged patients for test and treatment despite having an agreement with the government to do it free of cost. Thus, they conducted 4.5 thousand tests and illegally usurped around Tk 15 million.
Another institution took away Tk 80 million by issuing 15,000 fake reports without testing.
Seven countries imposed restriction on Bangladeshi travelers due to fake corona reports. This had adverse impacts on Bangladeshi migrant workers returning to their work places.
Some 15 per cent of the service recipients have to pay extra money than government prescribed fee for coronavirus test – maximum amount of extra charge is Tk 3,200 in government run laboratories, and a maximum of Tk 7,650 in case of private laboratories.
Some 4.5 per cent of the service recipients had to pay bribes --on an average Tk 946-- for getting an early serial for a sample test.
Use of an unapproved rapid test kit from an approved private medical college for coronavirus testing was revealed, according to the study.
Irregularities and corruption in medical services
Although decreased in some hospitals, corruption and irregularities like negligence of duty, absenteeism of health workers, supply of low quality PPE, etc. still exist, the study stated.
Irregularities and corruption occurred in some 35.1 per cent of hospitals, it added.