FAIZ ABAD (SW) - To quarantine and treat patients and people suspected of having coronavirus, the local administration in Badakhshan has set up a 120-bed facility and purchased 48 million afghanis worth of medical equipment for it.
The purchase of equipment and the provision of health services to patients in this center has always been criticized for alleged widespread corruption. Recently, a joint team from the civil society and the Medical Association of Badakhshan Province monitored the facility and its equipment. Members of the team say there was corruption committed in the purchase of medical equipment. On the other hand, the team's findings show that proper services have not been provided to patients. The team also said that ghost employees have been hired at the center just to draw salaries.
Ajmal Darvish, a member of the supervisory team, said the Badakhshan Health Department was initially reluctant to provide the purchase forms to the team, but they have finally accessed them. The member of the supervisory team posted pictures of the rooms behind the gates of the "Special Services or ICU" and said that the rooms would receive Corona virus patients with a brick-and-wooden bed. In a document provided to Salam Watandar, the price of these 'special beds' for patients is marked as 48,000 afghanis.
In the purchase document of these beds, which was purchased from "Mohsen Massoud" company, the price of a Chinese bed is marked as 48,000 afghanis. The document shows that health officials in Badakhshan bought 55 such beds at the same price.
Ajmal Darwish said that raising the price of goods with the outbreak of the coronavirus is normal, but buying a bed worth 48,000 afghanis is a great injustice to the people and the government. He said the price of these beds was not more than 20,000 afghanis after the coronavirus spread.
Images of these expensive beds are widely available on social media, and users have ridiculed them as "magic beds."
Another document of items, which were purchased from the same company, shows that fifteen items were purchased from the company and the price of each PPE kit was 850 afghanis. But Saturi Yazdanparast, a member of the Badakhshan civil society team, claims that the kits are not worth more than 300 afghanis in the market. He says that despite the rising number of people with corona virus, the Badakhshan Health Department has not yet done anything to rehabilitate the women's ward.
Noor Khavari, the head of Badakhshan's health department, called the team's findings baseless and said that they had resorted to this 'propaganda' to project themselves. The head of the Badakhshan Health Department said that he is ready for accountability by neutral authorities for the transparency of this work and the provision of regular services to patients.
On the other hand, he said that the purchase of medical equipment was made by a delegation consisting of local offices in Badakhshan and had nothing to do with the department.
Khavari said the center's services have recently been handed over to the AKHS office (Aga Khan Health Services), and public health directorate has served only as a watchdog.
Nik Mohammad Nazari, spokesman for the governor of Badakhshan, also said that the price of all goods had risen at the time of the purchase of the medical equipment and that there had been no corruption.
The main shortcomings of this operation are exposed by Saifuddin Sais, the head of the Badakhshan civil society organization. He said the suspected and confirmed patients of the virus are treated under one roof. He added patients in bed do not have special clothes and are in bed with normal clothes that increases the risk of spreading the virus.
According to Yazdanparast, 195 people have been employed at the facility, but only 45 attend every day.
The head of Badakhshan Public Health denies the existence of imaginary employees in the center, saying that only 100 people provide health services at the center.
A few days ago, a video was released by the Badakhshan civil society in which the patients complained about poor quality of food, lack of masks and disinfectant. But the head of public health in Badakhshan says the claims by the patients are baseless and that medical services are being provided in full.
Ahmad Javid Raghi, secretary of the Badakhshan Provincial Council, said they were examining the delegation's claims. He did not elaborate on the corruption at the center, but said the equipments have been purchased at a very high price.