President Mohamed Waheed Hassan has abolished the Ministry of Health and Family in favour of two new separate ministerial bodies.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights have both now been established following the abolition of the previous healthcare body.
Under these two new bodies, Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed will retain his post as Minister of Health, while Dhiyana Saeed will head the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights.
Saeed, former SAARC Secretary General and wife of recently-elected Jumhoree Party (JP) MP for Kaashidhoo, Abdulla Jabir, resigned from her SAARC position after criticising former President Mohamed Nasheed for the arrest of Chief Criminal Court judge, Abdulla Mohamed. Saeed was youngest SAARC Secretary General ever appointed and the first female.
Both new ministers conducted their respective oath of office today in-front of Supreme Court Judge Abdulla Areef, according to the President’s Office.
The ministerial changes were made a week after the government announced the abolition of the country’s Health Service Corporations. President Waheed said the service facilities provided by the corporations would be brought under control of the Ministry of Health.
The decision was taken by the cabinet based on the experiences of previous government health policy over the last three years, the government stated. The government claimed that a number of “challenges” needed to be faced in providing healthcare across the country’s atolls.
Just last month, the government announced that 30 state companies providing provincial health and utility services would be abolished to try and streamline various public services.
Seven health corporations charged with overseeing regional medical services were also dissolved in favour of returning their functions to the Ministry of Health and Family.
The now opposition Maldivan Democratic Party (MDP) criticised the decision as reversing the decentralisation policy that had been undertaken in recent years.
“Maldives’ geographical fragmentation means one central board or company will find it impossible to effectively monitor and deliver services in an equitable manner,” former President Nasheed’s former Policy Undersecretary Aminath Shauna told Minivan News at the time.
Mohammed Abdul Samad, temporary manager for Gan Regional Hospital in Addu Atoll, told Minivan News Thursday that he personally welcomed the decision to abolish the Health Service Corperations.
Samad claimed that despite the relative success in recent years of Maldives health policy in areas such as cutting infant mortality rates, the quality of health services had been generally declining.
“We are desperately in need for urgent supplies like certain injections. We have so many pending bills and the government has had to arrange money for us,” he said.
Samad, who said he was temporarily overseeing operations at Gan Regional Hospital, added that he therefore welcomed the decision to have the Ministry of Health oversee the former Health Service Corporations’ work.
He also claimed that the government would be better able to provide more technically-experienced health staff rather businessmen to oversee hospital operations.
Samad added that Gan Regional Hospital presently faced significant problems in paying off debts relating to much needed drug supplies.
He claimed that the Health Ministry faced major challenges in relation to hiring trained medical staff at hospitals around the country. Taking the example of Gan Regional Hospital alone, Samad said the site presently had the need to employ additional specialist staff like a second gynaecologist to meet local patient demand, though added that management were unable to find suitable candidates.