Private healthcare group contemplates Maldives’ cancer treatment limitations

HealthCare Global Enterprises (HCG), an Indian-based supplier of specialist cancer treatments, is in the Maldives this week to consult with authorities and private medical companies over possible partnerships to treat the disease, an area of medicine that health officials is limited locally.

Speaking today to Minivan News, Bhavani Shankar, head of international marketing for HCG, said the company was in the early stages of consulting private and public healthcare providers in the country, along with the operators of Male’s ADK hospital and Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IMGH) over a number of potential opportunities for cancer treatment.

“Basically there is no cancer treatment here. Only a few facilities are there; medical oncology, chemotherapy and some small investigation procedures are available in the Maldives,” he claimed. “Most people are flying to India [for cancer treatment], about 600 to 750 people are doing this each year.”

Claiming to operate more than 18 specialist centres across India and South Asia either directly or through partnerships , Shankar said that the company was experienced in providing specialised surgeries and state of the art cancer treatments throughout the region.

“We have a variety of facilities and technologies such as the ‘CyberKnife’ robotic radio surgery, radiotherapy as well as offering other surgical procedures,” he said. “We can offer screening in the country before considering flying people out to India for treatment, which is the easiest option.”

In contemplating potential healthcare roles or business opportunities within the country, the HCG spokesperson said the company was keen to work with both private and public partners in terms of supplying technical knowhow or training for doctors and nurses alongside NGOs. Given the limitations of Maldivians in the country travelling abroad for health reasons due to income, Shankar said he believed that there were a number of treatment options it could make available for the population.

“We are focusing on both kinds of things [private and public cooperation], we are trying to help even the people who cannot afford treatments as well. We have different options actually, but this depends on what the hospitals and health bodies can manage,” he added. “We are open; whether the government is able to fund a small cancer care centre or through work with a private partner, we are looking for both [opportunities].”

At present, the Maldives’ State Minister for Health, Abdul Bari Abdulla, said that there was no budget in the country specifically for cancer prevention, with any possible funding being supplied under a wider national health act.

“The cancer programme we have is currently led by IGMH, but we don’t have the capacity for treatments or screening,” he said.

The State Health Minister claimed that the main challenge for the nation regarding cancer prevention related to a lack of technical expertise.

“Cancer treatment within the country requires state of the art techniques,” he said.

In considering strategies for trying to combat cancer within the Maldives, Bari said that health was one area that the government was looking into the possibilities of private and public partnerships and the potential benefits that may be available.

So-called ‘medical tourism’ to countries such as India and Singapore is very common in the Maldives among those able to afford it, and is major expense for many families unable to afford it but who do so anyway because of low confidence in local services for surgery and serious ailments.


6 thoughts on “Private healthcare group contemplates Maldives’ cancer treatment limitations”

  1. I am an maldivian MBBS doctor currently working abroad..i am very much interested in Oncology..i did get the opportunity to do postgradute studies in Oncology.i did ask our health ministry for funding..i was turned down..said they had no funds, i made clear that my intetions were to work in IGMH...the health ministry gives Zero priority in training specialists...

  2. Found this news piece very interesting. Since I know the Doctor who is visiting. In fact, he has been treating a family member for the past couple of years. The same story was sold to us about Robotic surgery etc. Infact our family visited the facilities. The story was all sweet and very supportive before the treatments began.

    Sadly, this Doctor has expressed that his motive to coming to the Maldives is purely commercial.

    Treating cancer patients has moved from beyond the chemo, radiation and other forms to extending necessary support to the patients, including pain management and councelling. Non of these options were even discussed, and the doctor is always busy trying to find a new patient.

    I do not doubt that the Doctor is well qualified and recognised for his works. But I find his ethics and principles in this line of work, very unprofessional considering his approach to patients.

    I am expressing my thoughts with deep concern, as I do not want any Maldivianss to be taken down the wrong path with hopes. Years down the line to realize that it was one big commercial venture. By this time Dr. Gupta and his company would have multiplied the patients that they treat, again gaining commercially!

    I humbly request our Health Minister to investigage the motive behind such a visit.

  3. @ AR. governemnt wasted so much money traing so many petty mbbs doctors and specialists who are of no use. what maldives needs is a proper insurannce scheme that will allow maldivains to get medical care from india and srilanka coverered under it. maldivians doctors are money thirsty people.

  4. @Ali..the health sector of this country will only prosper when we have enough trained maldivian specilists, government doesnt spend at all on training specialists, can u just tell me a single maldivian neurologist, hematologist, oncologist, critical care specilist just to name a few..the list goes on and u know many maldivians..people like you Ali and your parents..who gets ripped of by indian and srilankan you know how many useless procedures, operations are done? maldvian medical tourists are seen as a soft target, easy money by indian and srilnakan doctors...and for the foriegn doctors working in Maldives..we have to understand its not their country, its not their responsibilty to work for the advancement of maldivian health sectors...the responsibility falls on us.

  5. i am also a doughter of cancer u know how many times we have consult my mother to maldivian hospitals.but they are just telling there is no such a problem with we went abroad, there they have told it was cancer...... luckily we save our mother. so i call health ministry to buld a cancer treatment clinic.

  6. well for some who loves this little country, i suggest rather than sign MOQ with commercial organisation who are just to do busy, let ur ministry get in touch with CANCER INSTITUTE, dr. shanta chennai, who have given free treatment to millions of cancer patients from 1941, free drugs are issued to most of the patients, and much more. all it needs is a little initiative from the govt and the people.


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