CHATTOGRAM: Unlicenced hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centres and blood banks have mushroomed in the port city, thanks to negligence and lack of proper monitoring by the authorities concerned.
The health centres frequently face different allegations, including death of patients due to lack of treatment and wrong diagnosis and treatment.Despite having instructions to have new licences and renew old ones in the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) every year, a good number of private healthcare centres are being operated without licences or with expired ones in Chattogram.
The longstanding crisis encourages a certain quarter of businessmen to establish and run hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres without proper permission, necessary medical staff, seats and equipment, sources said.
The management of the defaulting service providers attributed to the ‘complex’ and ‘strict’ online application procedures for failure to obtain licences or renewing old ones.
Some of them also alleged although they applied for renewing the licences, the authorities concerned didn’t turn to inspect the hospitals for proceeding further.
But, the DGHS officials claimed that lack of sufficient manpower and the coronavirus outbreak are responsible for the situation.
Sources said there are some 534 approved private hospitals, diagnostic centres and blood banks in Chattogram district. Of them, 157 are hospitals and 377 are diagnostic centres.Of the total healthcare providers, 93 hospitals and 186 diagnostic centres are located in the port city.
Many of them don’t have updated licences from the DGHS while some lack clearance from other agencies, including the Department of Environment (DoE) and the Fire Service and Civil Defense (FSCD).
In a move, the DoE cancelled environmental clearance certificates of 38 private hospitals and diagnostic centres in the city last month on different charges, including lack of licences, non-renewal of old ones and improper waste management.
Contacted, DoE Chattogram (Metro) Director Md Nurullah Noori said they have a list of 189 hospitals and diagnostic centres in the city.
“We recommend cutting off electricity and gas supply lines of the organisations which got their clearance certificate cancelled. Cases will also be filed against them,” he said.
Akkas Ali, proprietor of Medisave Pathological Lab in the city, said their licence has expired in February this year and they couldn’t apply for renewal due to the corona pandemic.
Sources in the Chattogram district Civil Surgeon Office said 671 applications for new and renewal of licence have been submitted from Chattogram district.
A total of 142 applicants got licences till Thursday while 218 applications remained pending, 119 waiting for inspection and inspection of 46 done.
Dr Liakat Ali Khan, general secretary of Chattogram Hospital and Diagnostic Centre Owners Association, said they have 50 members and most of them applied for renewal of the licences.
But, he failed to specify the total number of hospitals and diagnostic centres operating in the city.
Chattogram District Civil Surgeon Dr Sheikh Fazle Rabbi told the daily sun that an online registration was launched in 2018 and many hospitals and diagnostic centres applied for licences.
But, some applications are found inappropriate to have licences, he said.
Dr Rabbi held lack of manpower and the coronavirus pandemic for failure to inspect all the licence-seeking hospitals.
Contacted, DGHS Director (Hospital) Dr Md Farid Hossain Miah said they want to bring all the hospitals and diagnostic centres under registration to ensure proper health services in the country.
“Although the deadline for application for renewal of licences was set for August 23, it will be extended further to allow more,” said the director.
“We’ll take legal action against those which won’t apply for renewal or not be able to fulfil the requirements,” he warned.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (Cab) Vice-President SM Nazer Hossain said complaints of improper treatment and negligence against hospitals and diagnostic centres are being reported very frequently.
The authorities should monitor their activities properly and take stern action to help people get rid of the crisis, he suggested.