The health ministry has issued a policy on health services research and called for research proposals on Monday, one year after a Tk100 crore fund was announced by the finance ministry for this purpose.
The Medical Education and Family Welfare Division (MEFWD) has asked interested parties to submit their research proposals by 23 June.
According to people familiar with the matter, there is no possibility of spending the research funds in the current financial year.
The delay in the issuance of the policy follows a dispute between the health and the finance ministry over who will be the members of two committees formed to manage the Tk100 crore fund. The finance ministry allocated the money in the current 2020-21 fiscal year for research on health care and education without coronavirus, dengue, chikungunya and other viruses.
Officials in the finance ministry said they had formulated a policy on the management of the 'Integrated Health-Science Research and Development Fund', which was presented to the prime minister for approval last November. It included the names of the members of the Verification and Selection Committee, and the Award Committee, finalised by the finance division.
The finance division formed an 11-member award committee with Kazi Deen Mohammad, director of the National Institute of Neuroscience and Hospital, as its head, and a seven-member selection committee with Mujibur Rahman, Internal Medicine Professor at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, as its chairman.
After the Prime Minister approved the policy on 3 December, the finance ministry sent it to the health ministry asking it to issue a notification about it on 9 December.
However, the MEFWD issued the policy last March, excluding various experts from the members of the two committees and adding new people of their choice.
Objecting to the change of experts, the finance ministry announced that the names of the experts in the two committees have been approved by the Prime Minister and therefore, no one can be excluded or included in them.
Later, MEFWD Secretary Ali Noor held a discussion with Abdur Rauf Talukder, senior secretary of the finance division in this regard, where the finance secretary emphasised that no changes could be made in the approved committees.
Following the two secretaries' discussion, the MEFWD issued a revised policy on the same day cancelling the names of newly added persons from the committees and reinstating the experts finalised by the finance ministry.
A member of one of the committees told The Business Standard the health ministry had removed the names of specialist doctors and researchers who had criticised the ministry at various times over the state of healthcare and health education in the country.
That is why it took so long to call for research proposals and start research using the funds, the member said.
Meanwhile, Professor Ridwanur Rahman, a member of the Award Committee said that after receiving proposals from interested researchers by 23 June, it would take another month to sort them out.
"The research proposals recommended by the selection committee will be given to researchers in three instalments after the award committee gives final approval. Researchers will have to submit their research papers within two years," said Professor Rahman, who is the head of research at the Universal Medical College Research Center.
According to the policy, long-term achievements in the health sector need to be sustained and plans need to be formulated and implemented to take the country's health system to the same level as the developed world as a whole, including preventing and dealing with future epidemics.
"It is important to ensure a better healthcare system for the citizens of Bangladesh by integrating health-education and science-technology of the developed world, and its own research-based public health-medical education-medical services," it said.