The health sector is unprepared for a potential outbreak of HIV in the Maldives in the absence of prevention programmes and specialised care for population groups at risk, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has warned.
“[The Health Protection Agency] mandated with HIV/AIDS prevention/control is not adequately funded and lacks capacity to lay down such a system,” reads the HRCM’s submission for the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.
“There are no prevention services for high risk groups, increasing the risk of spreading HIV. High risk factors including sharing of needles to inject drugs, high sexual activity among adolescents and youth could contribute to an increased prevalence of HIV/AIDS. It is alarming that there is no screening system for HIV/AIDS and STI in the prison system; considering some of the identified HIV patients go in and out of prison as repeated offenders.”
In May, the health ministry issued new guidelines on preventing the transfer of HIV from mother to child while the Health Protection Agency warned of an HIV “time bomb.”
A series of protests over regional healthcare services occurred earlier this year after it was revealed that the state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) had transfused HIV positive blood to a patient in February due to an alleged technical error.
The HRCM report also noted that health services were “not easily accessible and available in atolls and lack healthcare professionals such as gynaecologists and paediatricians.”
“Public has no trust in the healthcare system due to many avoidable health incidents and sensitive medical information of patients being leaked,” the report stated.