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Fake N95 mask suppliers go scot-free

Probe blames corrupt CMSD officials instead

Published : Tuesday, 9 June, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 689

A worker busy making facemasks as the demand for masks has taken an upturn in the local market amid growing  concern over coronavirus pandemic. People are eager to stave off any threat from the deadly virus. The photo was taken from Nayabazar in Old Dhaka on Monday.	PHOTO: OBSERVER

A worker busy making facemasks as the demand for masks has taken an upturn in the local market amid growing concern over coronavirus pandemic. People are eager to stave off any threat from the deadly virus. The photo was taken from Nayabazar in Old Dhaka on Monday. PHOTO: OBSERVER

The Health Department is mysteriously not taking any action against JMI, a supplier which delivered substandard N95 facemasks to the Central Medical Stores Depot (CMSD).
The JMI Hospitals Requisite Manufacturing Ltd supplied substandard masks to several state-run hospitals instead of genuine N95 facemasks after the spread of coronavirus infection in the country. The Health Department of the government has been sharply criticised for providing substandard N95 facemasks to the frontline doctors and medical staff.
A powerful and strong syndicate is reportedly
controlling the government's Health Department. The syndicate has the backing of a huge amount of money and has been holding sway over the Health Department for the last 12 years.
This syndicate also supplied various types of substandard and fake medical devices to the government run hospitals, according to sources.   
Investigation agency found a syndicate run by Mithu was in control of the vital Health Department. Mithu is said to have close relations with high officials of the Health Department of the government.
According to sources, the syndicate makes project profiles for any medical related purchases of the Health Department. The syndicate also pays huge amount of money as bribe in cash instantly to get the work.   
The syndicate first supplied fake substandard N95 facemasks to Mugda General Hospital. The hospital authority found that although boxes labelled 300 facemasks were "N95," they contained no such facemasks. Other hospitals also complained of the quality of the personal protective equipment (PPE).
The government constituted a probe committee to investigate into the supply of fake N95 facemasks.  The committee report suggested taking action against the officials who received the products labelled N95 facemasks. However, interestingly it did not suggest any action against the supplier, JMI, a part of the syndicate.      
The CMSD Director, Brig Gen Md Shahidullah, served a show-cause notice on JMI. The supplier took the facemasks back. In the meantime, the director was transferred to the Armed Forces Division.
The probe committee in its report found fault of the CMSD officials but not of the JMI.
JMI Hospital Requisite Manufacturing Ltd delivered research category N95 labelled facemasks instead of a general facemasks demanded by the Central Medical Stores Depot (CMSD). These facemasks were made from unauthorised imported materials.
Several state-run hospitals were supposed to receive N95 facemasks instead of the ordinary ones.
It also suggested increasing the number of expert staff in the CMSD who can deal with the demand and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The report also maintained that one needs to be alert when permitting the production and marketing of the N95 facemasks.
During the first week of April, a social media storm erupted with allegations of supply of substandard facemasks to several state-run hospitals instead of N95 facemasks.
The CMSD, the government body that sources medical supplies, stated that it requested JMI to supply 50,000 facemasks. But it supplied 20,610 general facemasks packed as N95 in two batches.
While receiving the second batch of supplies, the CMSD store officials reported to their director that they doubted the quality of the facemasks.
ACC Chairman Iqbal Mahmood said to the journalists, "We are collecting data from different sources and analysing it."




"Masks or PPE are associated with the safety of physicians, nurses or healthcare workers' lives. So, all these allegations are being taken very seriously and a decision will be taken quickly."




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