Expressing deep concern and dismay over the new move of the health ministry, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) today said the ministry’s circular restricting publication of any public hospital’s information will accelerate the corruption in the health sector.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a circular imposing an embargo of publishing public hospital’s information without the consent from the authorities concerned.
“The move imposed an embargo when any organisations or people will go to any hospital to collect information for their research works, surveys or any other purposes,” TIB Executive Director Dr Ifftekharuzzaman said in a statement.
He said, “This is totally unthinkable. The move is an outcome of the health ministry’s colonial and repressive mindset. It will create a bar for the free flow of information access and will go against the legal rights of citizens of the country guaranteed by the government.”
The move not only disrupt all kind of health-related research and publication of free flow of information but it also accelerates irregularities, corruption, misappropriation of government property and extravagances, the statement reads.
“The ban was imposed to conceal the irregularities and corruption,” the statement said demanding the immediate withdrawal of the directive.
The move triggered criticisms with media professionals and experts what they think the move is a blow to press freedom.
The ministry’s circular, signed by Deputy Secretary Abu Raihan Mian, said taking pictures and videos of patients and health services inside hospitals without permission is not allowed.
“Consent on the authenticity of the information must be taken from the authorities before publishing it,” it said.
The ministry also directed the officials concerned to implement an eight-point directive, including introducing visitor’s entry pass for every public hospital and maintaining register books for visitors.
The circular said a patient can have a maximum of two attendants.
It also asked all on-duty physicians, nurses and other hospital staffers to make sure their ID cards are visible.