CHATTOGRAM: An investigation committee has found the evidence of an unauthorised Covid-19 vaccination programme conducted by followers of Whip Shamsul Hoque Chowdhury in his Shovandandi union under Patiya upazila of the district in violation of the government directive.
The committee has also found massive irregularities by medical technologist Rabiul Hossain and his associates at the behest of Whip Shamsul Hoque, also an MP from Patiya constituency.
The report was sent to the Health Directorate from Chattogram Divisional Office for the next course of action, said the sources concerned.
All the committee members refused to disclose the findings of the investigation.
However, sources said the committee submitted a three-page report along with 35 pages of different kinds of evidence to the divisional director.
The committee found during the investigation that the vaccination programme was carried out without permission from the health department. Besides this, the vaccine doses were not preserved in cold boxes before administering people while most of the registration cards were found fake in the investigation, the sources added.
Moreover, the CCTV footages of the upazila EPI Centre, where the vaccines are preserved, were found vanished. It has caused the investigators to face trouble to identify the persons involved in the incident.
Out of the total 2,600, a total of 2,200 vaccine registration cards have also been found fake in the investigation.
On the other hand, the accused medical technologist, Rabiul Hossain, was still on duty at EPI Centre despite having his involvement with this illegal vaccination trade.
It could be possible due to his political influence, the sources said.
Regarding the CCTV camera footage, Upazila Health and Family Welfare Officer Dr Sabbyasachi Nath said he found one camera of the EPI centre out of order on Saturday morning. It was functioning till Thursday.
It indicates that the camera was active one day before the unauthorised vaccination and it has raised many questions regarding involvements of other persons along with Rabiul, he said.
The upazila health officer has informed that although Rabiul acknowledged of administering 2,600 vaccines, there are still shortage of some 500 vaccine doses.
Regarding realising money from the vaccinated people, Dr Sabbyasachi said they received verbal complaint of financial transaction for the vaccination.
He further said the higher authorities will take a decision in this regard as they have already received the investigation report, Dr Sabbyasachi said.
It is mentionable that 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 before 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, locals said.
Of the centres, Arfa Karim High School is located few hundred yards off the whip’s house.
The vaccination programme conducted in violation of the government directive drew huge criticism and resentment among vaccine-seekers, who were waiting for long, they said.
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 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 later.
The committee headed by Senior Consultant Ajoy Das of Chattogram General Hospital visited Patiya Health Complex on Sunday and quizzed those about 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.
Local sources said the decision on the vaccination was taken at the directive of the whip after a 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 the union-unit Awami League.
The banners hanging at the vaccination centres also carried the message that the programme was taken with the sincere effort of the whip, the sources said.
Despite a health worker, a brother of the whip also administered vaccine doses to people at the unauthorised vaccination programme.
The incident drew huge criticism from different quarters while Awami League (AL) leaders are embarrassed following the activities in the will of the whip and his family members.
Such activities violating the government directive will also tarnish the government’s sincere efforts to ensure vaccines for the people to save them from the fatal virus, they said.
Sources said Rabiul 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 Fazlul Haque Chowdhury Mohabbat, brother of Whip Shamsul Hoque, participated in the vaccination programme like a health worker and pushed vaccine 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.
Some people also experienced pain and other symptoms after receiving vaccines from the untrained persons, they added.