CHATTOGRAM: Although he is not a health worker, the brother of Whip Shamsul Haque Chowdhury administered vaccine doses to people at the unauthorised vaccination programme carried out at the behest of the whip at his union in Patiya upazila.
The incident drew huge criticism from different quarters while Awami League (AL) leaders are embarrassed following the activities at the will of the whip and his family members.
Sources said Medical Technologist Rabiul Hossain of Patiya Upazila Health Complex carried out the programme at Rashidabad Arfa Karim High School for the people of wards 1, 2 and 3 of Shovandandi union from 9:00am to 1:00pm on Friday and at Shovandandi School and College for the people of wards 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 from 9:00am to 1:00pm on Saturday last.
Witnesses said whip’s brother Fazlul Haque Chowdhury Mohabbat participated in the vaccination programme like a health worker and pushed vaccines to people.
The participation of an unskilled common person in such a sensitive task of administering vaccine created resentment among many. Mohabbat was seen pushing vaccines in photographs taken during the programme, said sources.
Some people also experienced pain and other symptoms after receiving vaccines from the untrained persons, they added.
Probe committee prepares report
Committee chief Dr Ajoy Das, also a senior consultant of Chattogram General Hospital, said they recorded depositions of people concerned and interrogated many regarding the vaccination programme. “We almost prepared the report and hope to submit it tonight,” he told the Daily Sun on Monday evening.
The committee sources said they found the evidence of administering vaccine to some 2,600 people at the unauthorised vaccination programme without permission from the authorities concerned.
Some 6-7 staff and employees of the Upazila Health Complex, led by Rabiul, were involved in the illegal work. Registration of the vaccinated people was also not maintained properly, they said.
Recommendation was also made to take action against the persons responsible for the incident, said the sources.
Mentionable, Rabiul and some of his associates carried out the vaccination programme unlawfully at the behest of Whip Shamsul Haque at Shovandandi union under Patiya upazila on Friday, eight days prior to the scheduled date.
The whip visited the vaccination programme which was supposed to begin on August 7 at the union level.
Some 2,600 people were vaccinated at Rashidabad Arfa Karim High School and Shovandandi School and College in exchange for money on Friday and Saturday, said sources.
Of the centres, Arfa Karim High School is located few hundred yards off the whip’s house.
The vaccination programme violating the government directive drew huge criticism and resentment among the vaccine seekers, who were waiting for long, said sources.
None of the upazila health and family welfare officer, civil surgeon and divisional health director was aware of the early vaccination programme at Shovandandi union.
Rabiul, a follower of the whip, claimed that he received verbal consent from the lawmaker for the vaccination while the local upazila chairman and union parishad members were aware of it.
“I informed all of the matter. The whip gave the consent after I wished to do something for people of the locality,” said Rabiul.
The DGHS formed a three-member committee and issued a show-cause notice on the medical technologist to explain the matter.
The committee visited Patiya Health Complex on Sunday and quizzed those related to the vaccination programme.
The two other members of the committee are Deputy Civil Surgeon Mohammad Asif Khan and Civil Surgeon’s Office Medical Officer Dr Nurul Haider.
Director Dr Hasan Shahriar Kabir earlier said Rabiul cannot conduct vaccination programme without permission. “Vaccination at the union level will officially start on August 7. It’s not appropriate to vaccinate unregistered people,” he said.
Upazila Health and Family Welfare Officer Dr Sabbyasachi Nath said there was no official permission for vaccination at any union right now.
Regarding the allegation of his presence at the vaccination centre, the officer said he visited the spot to verify whether vaccination was going on or not.
Local sources said the decision for vaccination was taken at the directive of the whip after discussion with the union Awami League leaders.
The organisers called upon the people above 30 years to come to the temporary vaccine centres with their identity cards for vaccination under the arrangement of union Awami League.
Banners hanging at the vaccination centres also carried the message that the programme was taken with the sincere effort of the whip, said the sources.
Bangladesh Chhatra League leader Rabiul joined the health department in 2012. His regular post is health assistant.
Despite having no three-year diploma course, he has been serving as medical technologist for being loyal to the whip.
There are also allegations of harassing other health assistants during distribution of the vaccine-related items and realising money for vaccine registration against Rabiul.
His wife is also working at Patiya Health Complex as health assistant.
Sources also alleged that there are a few other employees at the complex loyal to the whip.
Senior officials of the health department are reportedly helpless there due to their influence, they said.