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Govt failed to accept vaccination programme as its responsibility: Lives lost in thousands

10 June 2021
Govt failed to accept vaccination programme as its responsibility: Lives lost in thousands

The Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has blamed a third party involvement in Covid-19 vaccine procurement causing uncertainty in rolling out a nation-wide vaccination programme. The watchdog agency said the procurement drive should have been run by the government but unfortunately it has slipped into the grip of a private business house to ultimately become plugged in irregularities and corruption. It is benefiting business when the people are suffering for want of much needed vaccines.

It appears, a business friendly government has abandoned all legal procedures to allow monopolising vaccine procurement by a private business house close to it. Indeed the health sector is riddled with mounting corruption and procurement of Covid-19 vaccines is one among several dozen such scandals in the ministry making regular headlines. People now openly blame the minister for involvement in such corruption scandals. TIB has rightly said the government is hundred times busy in hiding corruption in the health sector and corona treatment than wiping out corruption. A government not properly elected by people thus seems to be more interested in promoting illegal business than being accountable to the people.

It appears that the government's sole dependence on Serum Institute has become a boomerang as it stopped supplying vaccine to Bangladesh due to massive spread of the infection in India. Bangladesh paid in advance for 30 million doses but received only 7 million doses, in addition to 3.3 million doses as gift. Serum engaged the local business house as its local agent which has cashed in Tk 231 crore as commission. The government didn't sign procurement deals with any other country like China and this led to promotion of the local business house. Now it is desperately trying to procure vaccines from other sources which is however time consuming.

The nationwide vaccination programme has thus remained stalled on the one hand while on the other we have not yet any detailed plan and arrangement to reach vaccines to people at the grassroots. Thousands of people died but the government has no remorse. One person's business interest was more important than human lives.

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