Bangladesh health minister vows crackdown on unauthorised hospitals, clinics

He assured that strict action will be taken over the death of five-year-old Ayan Ahmed during a circumcision procedure at an unlicensed facility

Published : 16 Jan 2024, 10:56 AM
Updated : 16 Jan 2024, 10:56 AM

Health and Family Welfare Minister Samanta Lal Sen has vowed to crack down on all illegal and unauthorised hospitals and clinics in Bangladesh in a bid to root out corruption in the healthcare sector.

"I have made it clear that there will be no tolerance for corruption. Unauthorised and unlicensed medical facilities cannot be allowed to operate. While it’s not possible to resolve this overnight, these illegal clinics and hospitals must be shut down. Measures will be taken against them," he said on Tuesday.

The Medical and Private Clinics and Laboratories Ordinance, 1982, bars hospitals, clinics or diagnostic centres from operating without the health directorate's approval.

But a series of high-profile incidents shed light on an alarming lack of compliance with the rules. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dhaka's Regent Hospital was found to be operating illegally after a fraud scandal, while the Mind Aid Hospital in Adabar came under scrutiny following the fatal assault on Assistant Commissioner Anisul Karim of Barishal Metropolitan Police.

In the wake of these incidents, the health directorate initiated a nationwide survey, leading to the identification of 11,940 hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic centres operating without proper authorisation or facilities. Of these, 2,916 had not even applied for a licence, and others were functioning without approval or with expired licences.

The health directorate responded with a series of raids, resulting in the closure of around 2,500 unlicensed facilities, and the imposition of fines on various clinics.

In January 2023, former health minister Zahid Maleque said in parliament that unauthorised clinics were no longer operational in Dhaka, where 484 private hospitals and clinics are officially approved.

However, the death of five-year-old Ayan Ahmed during a circumcision procedure at the unapproved United Medical College Hospital in Dhaka's Satarkul has once again brought the issue to the fore. In the face of widespread criticism, the health directorate ordered the closure of all activities at the facility.

Ayan's family met with Health Minister Sen on Tuesday to demand justice for the child's death. The minister assured them that he was aware of the situation and will take all necessary legal measures.