Widespread Corruption in Covid-19 tests, private hospitals counterfeit documents for money

Report: Shershah Nawabi and Shakir Sangi

Covid-19 or coronavirus testing has become common for travelers to other countries after a widespread outbreak of Coronavirus worldwide. A passenger who does not have a corona test certificate cannot travel from Afghanistan to other countries. Afghanistan is also not free from this exception; Afghan citizens, who usually come from abroad to spend their holidays or take care of their urgent work, need to return to their countries of origin to have a document to perform a corona test. Pasbanan (PMG News) findings show that most hospitals in Kabul licensed for corona testing are making fake documents for travelers without any examination, and they would only charge 2,000 afghanis.

Hospitals involved in making fake documents of corona test:

Although the Afghan Ministry of Public Health says, it has not yet obtained evidence of counterfeit documents issued by private laboratories to passengers. But official records from the Civil Aviation Authority and the Foreign Airlines Association in Afghanistan indicate that several hospitals are involved in giving fake documents. According to the papers, some hospitals are providing simulated results to travelers. On October 5, 2020, the Union of Foreign Companies wrote in a letter to the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority that several hospitals and private health facilities in Kabul had attempted falsifying the corona test results. For the sake of earning a large amount of money.

According to the letter: “At this stage, we propose that the Civil Aviation Authority should blacklist at least five laboratories. “Blossom Hospital, Royal Hospital, Biotic Hospital, Sana Hospital, and Wahaj Hospital are institutions that have issued forged documents.” In response to this letter, the Civil Aviation Authority also instructed the relevant institutions. All its offices on 8/oct/2020 should cancel the documents provided by passengers from the mentioned below hospitals.

On 10/october/2020, the Civil Aviation Authority wrote in response to the Foreign Airlines Association an official letter: “Health centers that have previously been approved by the Ministry of Public Health have failed in their activities and have issued fake documents from their addresses. The issued forgery mentioned in your letter dated 5 / October / 2020 (Royal Hospital, Blossom Hospital, Biotics Medical Laboratory, Sana Treatment Hospital, Wahaj Hospital) documents are not acceptable. “Therefore, the matter was written to you in order to accept the documents of the other health centers, which are executed Covid-19 test following PCR section and their activities are according to the procedure of the Ministry of Public Health and are trusted, in order to prevent flight stops and strokes in airline operations.”

Avoiding the response of these hospitals to the Ministry of Health:

Based on the evidence obtained, the mentioned hospitals, despite the country’s public health officials’ efforts, the mentioned hospitals have escaped from providing accurate information to the Ministry of Public Health’s monitoring system. The messages exchanged between the officials of the private hospitals and the Ministry of Public Health officials stated that these five hospitals refused to provide the documents due to forgery and were not willing to respond. “If a positive Covid-19 incident is registered in your labs, please share the details so that it should be included in the tracking process,” one message read. However, the evidence shows that the Ministry of Health officials have asked for real-time results, but several hospitals have always refused to provide information to the MOPH tracking system.

The inability of the Ministry of Public Health to control this disaster:

On June 22, 2020, the Afghan Ministry of Public Health allowed hospitals and private health centers to perform Covid-19 tests to control Afghanistan’s coronavirus spread. Ahmad Jawad Osmani, Acting Minister of Public Health of Afghanistan, said in a press conference: “as private health centers have given the right to treat and diagnose other diseases. Now it is time that these institutions respond to Covid-19 cases and follow the Ministry of Public Health’s protective guidelines to diagnose and treat patients infected with the covid-19 virus. The private sector no longer needs to treat the Coronavirus in the name of stimulus.”

But Pasbanan (PMG News) findings show that most hospitals and private health facilities in the country produce fake documents for travelers without considering corona testing criteria. The evidence indicates, this kind of testing has resulted in the imprisonment of passengers at Dubai airport for 10 to 15 days, and also passengers should pay fines to Dubai airport authorities. Evidence also shows that the hospital forged documents for passengers for 2,000 afghanis without performing any corona test.

Akmal Samsour, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, said he is unaware of such a case. They had not yet received any evidence that private hospitals were forging such documents. “There were rumors that we have been able to inspect only two hospitals for such cases in the past month. After examining the monitoring teams of the Health Ministry, we were able to punish two laboratories,” said Mr. Samsor, Afghan MOPH spokesman.

Covid-19 Sampling in travel agencies of Kabul city:

Evidence shows that these hospitals have set up their sampling centers in Kabul city Travel agencies. Without taking a test from passengers, the traveler can obtain a test document after one day, which indicates that the Coronavirus result is negative for a person. “Abdullah / a code name” is one of the passengers who obtained a corona test fake certificate from a private laboratory after paying 4,000 afghanis. “I went to one of the laboratories in Kabul city that have set up a sampling center at a travel agency cent, Covid-19 infected me, but as I paid for the Laboratory officials, they provided me a certificate,” Abdullah said. “The lab officials asked me to pay 4,000 afghanis for this document. As I was in harry, there was no way until I did not pay the amount the requested me. But I didn’t provide any sample to them.”

The issue of providing fake Covid-19 results for the passengers no matter has become a severe headache for many laboratories that perform corona testing following PCR guidelines accepted by the Ministry of Health. “Unfortunately, corruption in this area has called into question the validity of the corona test for international airports,” said Rezwan Ahmadzai, head of City Labs. “Although the private sector stands with the Ministry of Public Health like an arm, the Ministry of Health has not been able to stop this widespread corruption in this part, despite all its efforts, we face major problems, and our results are doubtable for international airlines. Which is very concerning to us.”

According to statistics from the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, 25 private laboratories currently have permission to perform coronary tests. Most private hospitals do not have any technical equipment to test for Coronavirus. Mainly some private hospitals have contracted with some mid-level laboratories to make money without providing an acceptable result to their clients. Having no equipment to perform this test is a significant problem. Still, several hospitals have signed a one-year memorandum with some mid-laboratories and received 2,000 afghanis for each test.

With repeated efforts, we could not have the opportunity to discuss this issue with the mentioned hospitals’ officials. Corruption in the management of Coronavirus- funds, on the one hand, and the licensing of substandard laboratories for Covid-19 testing, on the other hand, are essential indications of poor management in the fight against Coronavirus. But so far, the Afghan Ministry of Public Health has not been able to set the right course of action to manage the Covid-19 or Coronavirus properly.