His resignation came few days after health ministry served him with a show cause notice over his department’s claim that it has signed the agreement with controversial Regent hospital “under health ministry high-ups' directive.”
After facing a torrent of criticism from all corners, Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad resigned as the director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on Tuesday.
Confirming the matter to The Business Standard, Health Secretary Abdul Mannan said Dr Abul Kalam Azad has submitted his resignation to the Ministry of Public Administration.
According to a source at the DGHS, Dr Azad mentioned his deteriorating health as the reason behind his resignation; he said he has been suffering from kidney problems.
The source could not confirm whether the resignation was accepted or not.
Dr Azad has been criticised over various activities since the Covid-19 outbreak began in the country. He was widely lambasted after commenting that the Covid-19 situation would last another two to three years. He later apologised for that statement.
Besides, the Regent Hospital and JKG scams over coronavirus tests had put Dr Azad at the centre of a lot of criticism.
Faced with severe uproar over the illegal activities of Regent Hospital and JKG Healthcare, the DGHS, on July 11, said it had allowed Regent Hospital to provide treatment to Covid-19 patients on the directives of the higher authorities of the ministry.
"On the directives of the health ministry's higher authorities, the DGHS reached an agreement with the Regent Hospital," the health directorate had said in a press release.
The release, signed by Dr Mohammad Jahangir Kabir, assistant director of the directorate, stated that news reports about the fraud by Regent Hospital owner Shahed Karim that came out into the public domain was unknown to the directorate earlier.
"However, on the directives of the ministry, an initiative was taken to sign a memorandum of understanding on the admission of patients. Before that, the two facilities, during inspections, were found having a suitable medical environment, but their licences had not been renewed," it read.
A memorandum of understanding was signed with Regent on March 21 on the condition that its licence would be renewed.
Prior to this agreement, DGHS DG Prof Dr Abul Kalam Azad did not know the Regent Hospital chairman, let alone his identity, the release added.
"The health directorate had been cheated," the press release read, adding that the hospital had been closed down – as a result of the fraud-related reports – on July 7.
The following day, the health ministry asked the health directorate DG to produce an explanation on the press statement within three days.
The ministry asked for clarifications about what factors the DGHS had taken into consideration before signing an agreement with Regent Hospital, what measures it had taken to make sure that the conditions outlined in the agreement would be abided by, and what was meant by the "directives of the higher authorities of the ministry."
The memorandum of understanding regarding Covid-19 tests and treatment was signed with the Regent Hospital on the direction of the former health secretary, Abul Kalam Azad said in a written statement on July 16.
After Professor Dr Din Mohammad went on retirement, the government appointed Dr Abul Kalam Azad as director general for health services in august 2016. Later, his tenure was extended twice on contractual basis.