The local administration and health authorities have sealed off as many as 882 hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic centres over the past few days as part of efforts check the operation of unregistered healthcare facilities across the country.
The all-out drive came after the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) last Thursday ordered authorities concerned to shut down all unregistered private hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic centres within 72 hours. The deadline ended on Sunday.
The hospitals that were closed were either operating without a license, did not renew their license after expiry, or were flouting rules in offering services, according to the DGHS.
The Health Division in Khulna shut down eight unregistered health facilities on Sunday. The authorities had conducted raids at 12 facilities and found irregularities at the eight that were shut down.
The authorities also allowed one month’s time to the facilities who had not renewed their licenses. The drives against unregistered clinics are set to continue.
The local authorities conducting a mobile court to shut down unregistered clinics in Tangail on Saturday, May 28, 2022 Focus Bangla
Authorities in Tangail sealed off 24 health facilities for flouting regulations or not being able to produce licenses. They also fined a number of clinics.
A total of 17 unregistered hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres were sealed off in Tangail and three clinics were fined Tk75,000 in the district on Saturday.
The district administration in Bagerhat shut down 25 unsilenced clinics, hospitals, and diagnostic centres on Sunday. At the same time, they fined 32 such health facilities.
The local health division in Manikganj fined three health facilities for flouting rules. They also shut down five unlicensed clinics during a drive on Sunday.
In Satkhira, health authorities sealed off 10 unlicensed clinics and diagnostic centres. They also fined a number of owners for flouting regulations and running businesses.
Over 70 unregistered hospitals in Faridpur, Moulvibazar, Jamalpur, Tangail, Barisal, Bogra, Rajbari and Dhamrai were sealed off on Saturday.
According to the DGHS, a total 882 unregistered hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic centres have been sealed in the recent drives.
No figure on unlicensed hospital, clinics in Bangladesh
There were around 12,000 health facilities in Bangladesh without a license, according to an estimate by DGHS in 2020.
Dhaka division had 3,535 illegal health service centres, while Chittagong had 2,232, Khulna 1,523, Rajshahi 1,438, Rangpur 1,099, Mymensingh 963, Barisal 603 and Sylhet 546.
Only 6,067 health facilities in the country were licensed, which included 2,130 hospitals and clinics, 3,856 diagnostic centres, and 81 blood banks.
Private healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centres, and blood banks, are required to take a license from DGHS each fiscal year. Once the applications are placed online, DGHS officials inspect the facilities and then approve the licenses.
Sector insiders blame the lengthy licensing process and pending applications of previous years as the main causes of the delay in finalizing an updated list of hospitals and their statuses across the country.
The DGHS has taken many initiatives to update the list, but they are yet to become fruitful.
Licensing in exchange of money?
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) in a report titled “Private Healthcare: Governance Challenges and Way Out” in 2018 said most institutions in the country start healthcare services without any registration although this is not permitted under the law.
The report alleged that money is forcibly collected in the process of registration, which varies from a minimum of Tk5,000 to Tk300,000.
In some cases, institutions are getting their renewal illegally in exchange for money without fulfilling any criteria for the renewal, the report claimed.