Chattogram’s Patiya has got five upazila health and family planning officers transferred in just three years as they did not obey the directives of Whip Shamsul Haque Chowdhury.
Such frequent transfers in a shortest time are rare in the country, many say.
Officers in government service are usually transferred every three years. While in many cases, they are serving in the same workplaces for more than three years. But the exception is Patiya Health Complex in Chattogram for the first class government officials.
Whip and Chattogram-12 MP Shamsul Haque Chowdhury alias Bichchhu Shamsu has set a precedent of transferring five senior officials of the health department in just two years and 11 months in his constituency Patiya.
It has been alleged that the upazila health and family planning officers could not work there because of the whip’s power. The health sector, including the upazila health complex, is running according to the directives of Bichchhu Shamsu and his family.
Health officials are being transferred when they do not follow the instructions of the whip and his family in everything, including MSR and non-MSR, recruitment, transfer and promotion. Officers do not want to go there because of frequent transfers the whip does through misusing his power.
According to the investigation, five senior officers to the post of upazila health and family planning officer of Patiya have been transferred in just two years, 11 months and four days. Of them, the last four have been transferred within one year, eight months and 29 days.
As the number of transfer orders has increased abnormally over the last few years, officials are less interested in going to that position as a new workplace in Patiya Health Complex in the whip’s constituency. Even then the officer joins the office accepting that they will be transferred in a government job.
A number of officials of the health department, who did not want to be named, said there is no example of transfer of the chief of the upazila health complex (upazila health and family planning officer) in such a short time not only in Chattogram but also in other health complexes of the country.
Five senior officials of Patiya Health Complex have been transferred in a short span of time which is rare in the country. Local lawmaker Shamsul Haque Chowdhury has been accused of transferring the upazila and family planning officers one after another.
In the 50-bed Patiya Health Complex, the government allocates crores of taka every year for MSR (Medical and Surgical Requisites) and non-MSR, including food for patients.
Whip’s younger brother Mujibul Haque Chowdhury Nawab and nephew Mohammad Lokman control the contracts of the hospital anonymously. There is also an allegation that the health officers could not stay at the health complex due to the domination of the MP family.
Officers were transferred one by one for their refusal to engage in immoral activities. One of the last five transferred officers served only for 19 days at the hospital.
Shamsul Haque was elected MP from Patiya constituency for three times in a row. Once in BNP, then in Jatiya Party and again in BNP, Shamsul managed Awami League ticket in 2008. He started to establish his control after being elected MP for the second time in 2014. He established his sole control over everything. The upazila health complex was not left out.
According to the investigation, Dr Sabyasachi Nath is currently serving as the upazila health and family planning officer of Patiya. He is 31st in this post.
Earlier, Dr Abu Yusuf Mohammad Wahid Ullah served as acting upazila health and family planning officer for 14 months from April 21, 2018 to June 17, 2019. Since then, four officers served for two years, 11 months and four days.
Of them, Dr Tanoy Talukder held the post for 66 days in 2019. After that, Dr Akramul Azam discharged duty as the upazila health and family planning officer for three months and 10 days from August 24, 2019 to December 3, 2019, Dr Khokon Chowdhury as acting upazila health and family planning officer for 19 days from December 4, 2019 to December 22, 2019 and Dr Mohammad Jabed for one year, three months and three days from December 22, 2019 to March 24, 2021.
Contacted, incumbent Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer Dr Sabyasachi Nath said he was unaware of who served for how many days in the post. “I joined here on April 4. I’m facing no problem in discharging my duties,” he said.
Some officers of the Directorate General of Health Services said nothing happened at Patiya Health Complex without words of the whip and his family members. Irregularities with Covid-19 vaccine there on July 30 and July 31 are the burning example in this regard.
About 3,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine were pushed to people at an illegal centre by Whip Shamsul’s village house at Rashidabad under Shovondnadi union without permission from either Patiya Health Complex or Chattogram Civil Surgeon or Health and Family Welfare Ministry.
It is alleged that a number of employees, who are loyal to the whip, gave the vaccines to the illegal centre as per his directives.
Although there was no permission from the government, the whip visited the illegal vaccination programme. A three-member committee had been formed with Divisional Director (Health) Dr Hasan Shahriar as its chief to look into the matter.
Later, the committee submitted the findings to the DGHS director general. The DGHS suspended Medical Technologist (EPI) Mohammad Rabiul Hossain, who is loyal to the whip, for his involvement in the vaccine scam.
Afterwards, the authorities concerned lodged a general diary with Patiya Police Station over taking vaccines from the Patiya Health Complex without permission of the DGHS.
The vaccination in an illegal way sparked commotion across the country. Sensing danger, Whip Shamsul denied his involvement in the irregularities.
But, Rabiul Hossain admitted to the probe committee and mass media that he carried out the vaccination programme at the behest of the whip.