At least two private companies among the seven firms which received approval for setting up RT-PCR labs at airports have been accused of providing fake certificates and Covid-19 test result without collecting samples in exchange for money in the past.
Besides, there were many inconsistencies in the proposal of another organisation which initially proposed to set up RT-PCR lab though they didn’t have necessary machineries. Later, the firm proposed that they would conduct coronavirus test through mobile van and increased the cost.
Later on Wednesday, the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment approved of all these seven companies to set up RT-PCR labs at airport.
The DGHS suspended the operation of PCR labs of four private companies on June 9 for providing fake certificates and coronavirus test result.
These firms were CSBF Health Center, Stemz Health Care (BD) Ltd Dhaka, Al-Jami Diagnostic Center and Medinova Medical Services Ltd.
But the DGHS recommended the names of Stemz Health Care (BD) Ltd Dhaka and CSBF Health Center to set up RT-PCR lab at airport despite knowing their previous malpractice.
A letter signed by the director of the hospital and clinic branch of DGHS at that time said that recently there were several irregularities including issuing negative certificates to positive patients of foreign passengers, issuing negative certificates without sample collection, earning money through fraudulent activities, hiring brokers for operating sample collection booths are the reasons of suspending operation of PCR labs of these organisations. These allegations have also been substantiated in the DHIS-2 database verification and preliminary investigation. Such actions are undesirable, a threat to public health and terribly tarnishing the image of the country, said the experts.
Director of DGHS (hospital and clinic unit) Dr Farid Hossain Mia said, “They have corrected their papers. When they corrected their errors, we took undertaking from them and approved them again.”
On the other hand, DMFR Molecular Lab and Diagnostics showed their interest to set RT-PCR lab at airport and submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment in this regard on August 29.
On September 6, the high level technical committee of DGHS met with a representative of the DMFR Molecular Lab and Diagnostics who gave a presentation there. The managing director of the company said that they have the capacity to test 4,000 samples a day.
However, the meeting decided to verify the inconsistency in the documents submitted by the organisation in support of their proposal.
Moreover, in the first proposal, the firm said that they would charge Tk 1,700, but it was informed in the meeting that day that they would take Tk 2,700 for per sample test.
It was decided that before approval, the technical committee would inspect the organisation and report to the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment. After the inspection, the committee found that the firm has no Rapid PCR machine which they claimed in their proposal.
“Action was taken against these organisations earlier, but they were allowed to work again after scrutinising all documents. If they had been officially blacklisted by now, we could have excluded them. But they are not blacklisted,” said Professor Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, Director General of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
However, public health experts have criticised the DGHS and said it has compromised with these organisations. They said the organisations which are supposed to get punishment for serious crime have got important responsibilities.
Public health expert Dr MH Chowdhury Lenin said, “If I hit someone’s feet with a stick to break his leg and then say that I have committed a mistake. Now please return my stick again. Will it be acceptable? Such activities will increase the crisis of confidence to them.”
It is to be mentioned that some other private companies like Evercare, ideSHi, Prescription Point, BIRDEM, Prava Health but they did not get the approval.