CHATTOGRAM: The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has suspended Medical Technologist Rabiul Hossain in connection with the unauthorised early vaccination in Patiya upazila at the behest of Whip and lawmaker Shamsul Haque Chowdhury.
The order was signed by DGHS Director (Admin) Dr Sheikh Mohammad Hasan Imam on behalf of DGHS Director General (DG) Dr AKM Khurshid Alam.
Confirming the suspension order, DGHS chief Khurshid Alam said no incident like this unauthorised vaccination took place earlier.
Legal action will be taken against Rabiul after receiving the probe report, he said.
Mentionable, the three-member committee formed to investigate the matter has found the evidence of the unauthorised vaccination programme and trade in violation of the government directive by the followers of the whip.
However, there were questions over the probe report as the DGHS has suspended only Rabiul for the unlawful vaccination despite having involvement of many followers of the whip.
Persons behind this vaccine trade are being protected through the suspension of Rabiul as the probe committee did not include any other person, including those gave the consent and encouraged such illegal activity, said sources.
The matter of giving consent for the vaccination by Whip Shamsul was also not mentioned in the probe report although Rabiul acknowledged it to the media earlier.
The health officials of Chattogram district and division are also reluctant to make comment in this regard due to the political influence of the persons involved with it.
The committee members considered three things during investigation—whether the vaccination programme was carried out with the permission from the authorities, whether the vaccination activities were run properly following the health protocol and whether any financial transaction took place. 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 and Saturday.
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 of money in two days, 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, 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 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,” he said.
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, submitted the probe report on Monday night.
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.
Although he is not a health worker, the brother of 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 at 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 lethal 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 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.