Call a “drive” a “drive” | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 11, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:58 AM, August 11, 2020

Editorial

Call a “drive” a “drive”

Health minister’s puzzlingly contradictory remarks

We are a little confused by the apparent disagreement between the health minister and health secretary in the term used for the government's efforts to clamp down on healthcare institutions that are running without renewing their licenses or amongst other irregularities. While the health secretary has termed it as an ongoing "drive" against anomalies at private healthcare institutions, the health minister finds the word "drive" objectionable. Why is this so? What is actually objectionable is that he has said that he finds the term disagreeable because "drives are conducted in Chittagong Hill Tracts area; terrorists stay there and drives are conducted there." The CHT is where a majority of our indigenous communities live and making such a comment is both insensitive and incendiary.

The issue is about whether law enforcement agencies should independently raid government and private hospitals, which the health ministry seemed to have initially not been very enthusiastic about. The newly formed task force has come to a consensus that these raids will be conducted jointly by the health and home ministry. This seems reasonable considering criminal activities such as fraudulent test reports and the procurement of fake masks have been taking place, as exposed by the media, which would require law enforcers to arrest those behind such scams. We therefore do not really understand the reason behind why the minister is so sensitive to the term "drive", which is what it is essentially—a drive against corruption.

By objecting to the term, the health minister is implying that he is not much in favour of such actions, which is puzzling in itself. If indeed the taskforce makes surprise visits to these institutions and if irregularities are found and it takes action against those responsible, it may be possible to stop the anomalies that have been so publicised by the media and which sadly, the health ministry has not bothered to address for all these years, leading to catastrophic consequences for patients, especially during the pandemic. So where is the problem?

By publicly contradicting the health secretary, the health minister has unnecessarily exposed the former to controversy, not to mention his insensitive remarks regarding the CHT, which is a public faux pas and quite uncalled for. A minister should think before he speaks.

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