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Afghanistan ministry bought $60 bed sheets for a COVID-19 hospital

The typical yearly salary in Afghanistan is less than $1,500.

After President Ashraf Ghani’s decision to fire three public health deputy ministers late last week, the Ministry of Public Health said it is investigating price manipulation for products purchased for a Balkh province hospital treating coronavirus patients.

Located in the northern Balkh province, the hospital’s CEO Dr. Syed Tamim Walizada sent a letter to the provincial public health department to request additional beds, bed sheets, pillows, blankets, and other hospital supplies.

The Balkh Public Health Department reported receiving the letter and sent it signed to the Ministry of Public Health, who purchased the supplies at drastically higher rates than market prices. In USD, the reported cost for one bed sheet was $60, a teapot $65, and a bed more than $300.

The typical yearly salary in Afghanistan is less than $1,500.

Balkh Public Health Director Dr. Khalil Hekmati said the supplies were not purchased as “they were already available at the department’s warehouse.” He said the letter explicitly mentioned the equipment should be brought from the warehouse and provided to the hospital.

Without naming anyone, Hekmati said the equipment had been purchased under former public health directors and the issue should be investigated. “Complete information in this regard is available in the public health department’s archives,” he said.

Public Health Minister Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz said Sunday he was personally looking into the matter and met with the Balkh governor on Monday.

Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said the list of needed hospital supplies had been published by the provincial Public Health Department and was a provincial matter. Meanwhile, the newly appointed deputy ministers, Mayar said, would start working soon.

Compiled from news reports of Pajhwok Afghan News.

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