The national universal health insurance scheme Aasandha is to be extended to Maldivian nationals living in Malaysia.
President Mohamed Waheed announced Sunday (August 11) during his two-day unofficial visit to the country that Maldivians living in Malaysia would be covered by Aasandha.
Waheed made the announcement during a meeting with Maldivian expatriates, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom – who traveled to Malaysia with the president – told local media.
“But the president had not revealed details. But he said it would be arranged soon,” said Mausoom.
In July, the Government of Maldives announced they would be expanding the Aasandha universal health insurance for Maldives nationals with resident visas in Sri Lanka and India to specific “empanelled” hospitals.
National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) Chair and State Minister State for Health Thoriq Ali Luthfee previously said that to coincide with the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan, Maldives nationals residing in India and Sri Lanka would now be covered for 397 surgical and medical procedures under the universal health scheme.
The coverage will be available at a set number of hospitals that have already been providing services under Aasandha in Sri Lanka and India.
The Aasandha universal health insurance program was introduced by former President Mohamed Nasheed’s government in January 2012 and retained by President Waheed’s administration after the controversial transfer of power in February the same year.
The scheme, a public-private partnership with Allied Insurance, covers up to MVR100,000 (US$6500) in healthcare costs for Maldives nationals with valid national identity cards.
State Minister Luthfee claimed that the extension of the services to Maldivians residing in Sri Lanka and India was possible as a result of cutting systematic “waste” from the Aasandha system present from its inception under the previous government.
Sun Online meanwhile reported last week that the National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) owed foreign hospitals US$400,000 as a result of the country’s ongoing foreign currency shortage, with at least one facility in Sri Lanka suspending Aasandha service.
“We have Maldivian rufiya, we can’t get dollars. We have been asking government companies to sell dollars; this has been going on for a long time now. How can we pay in dollars if we can’t get dollars?” NSPA Chairman Luthfee told Sun Online.
Luthfee said while Kooddoo Fisheries and the Maldives Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) had previously assisted with the problem, the companies were no longer in a position to do so.