MNDF drafted to aid government dengue response over “epidemic” fears

The Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) has been drafted in to help with efforts to try and control an outbreak of dengue fever that the government has described as “an epidemic”.

President Mohamed Nasheed yesterday announced that he had requested the assistance of defense forces in collecting information about the virus from island and atoll health councils after four deaths linked to the affliction were recorded in the space of two days.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Major Abdul Raheem of the MNDF confirmed that the country’s armed forces would be working within a wider government task force to try and establish ways of better controlling the spread of the virus.

The Maldives has been battling a growing number of dengue fever cases in 2011, with 300 cases and five deaths reported in just the first two months of the year. There has been a reported spike in the number of cases of the virus reported in Male’; cases that were linked earlier this year by one health expert to a construction boom in the capital. However, most of the fatalities have been islanders who died in transit to regional hospitals, with many of the most serious cases having affected children.

Raheem did not specify what exact role the MNDF would take in efforts to combat the virus, but added that the defence force would be working as part of a taskforce based within a male’ school to try and coordinate a response to the outbreak.

“This is the first time we have been involved in efforts to help fight dengue fever,” he said. “But we have experience in working to control other [diseases].”

In addressing concerns about incidents of dengue across the Maldives, President Nasheed yesterday said that the MNDF would be used to obtain information about the virus from atoll health authorities in conjunction with councils and the Local Government Authority overseeing their work.

With the current outbreak now being treated as an epidemic by the government, the president called on members of the public and everyone involved in disease control to provide genuine information about the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, anyone found to be providing falsified information is said to risk facing possible prosecution from the authorities, Nasheed warned in a press release.

Early symptoms of the virus include fever, joint paint and a distinctive rash and headache, although it can be difficult to distinguish from the milder Chikungunya disease that can last for up to five days. Even healthy adults can be left immobile by dengue for several weeks while the disease runs its course.

Government criticism

Despite announcing plans to take action against the disease, the government has come under some criticism this week within the Majlis for perceived failures in its handling of the local dengue situation.

Amongst the criticisms, People’s Alliance (PA) MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla asked Health Minister Dr Aminath Jameel if she was considering resignation “since based on what is being said here your sector has very much failed,” Dr Jameel replied that she did not believe that was the case.

The health minister, replying to another question from MDP MP Ali Waheed during Tuesday’s (June 28) parliamentary session, said the ministry was providing information to islands through teleconferencing and stressed that controlling mosquito breeding grounds was key to combating the rise in dengue fever across the country.

“Mosquitoes don’t travel very far,” she explained. “Therefore, it’s mosquitoes from nearby areas that are spreading it. Controlling mosquito [breeding] is needed from the public and individuals as well. We are working together with island councils and the Male’ City Council.”

Jameel claimed that the Addu City Council had also taken up initiatives and organised activities to try and combat dengue.

“An additional problem that we encounter is the quick turnover of doctors in the country’s hospitals and health centres,” she said. “So they are not very familiar with the protocol here. We are facing that problem as well. But as I’ve said, this can’t solved without controlling mosquito [breeding].”


14 thoughts on “MNDF drafted to aid government dengue response over “epidemic” fears”

  1. Each and every inhabited Island in Maldives has five councilors, what these esteem officials doing on their Islands.
    Are these officials capable and have the capacity to organize necessary works? It seems even simple things as cleaning up of their houses and their Islands and its surroundings someone from have to tell them or the relevant authorities in Male have to send a taskforce to get their cleaning job done!

  2. Madam jameel is big failure from the start of her ministerhood. So it's bight time she steps down from the position.

  3. MNDF can do only one thing:lead a comfortable life from their high salaries&all the benefits that they get for pretending to work for the safety of the country...All in all,the well fed MNDF guys can do the only thing that all the authorities in Maldives always manage to do:TALK&TALK&Talk some more!!

    By the way the present health minister is a major failure..the health sector has gone to the dogs!!RESIGN if you have some mercy for the people!

  4. Army to take over immigration, army to control dengue... what next for army mr president? what the hell are all of your other ministers and their offices doing if army has to do everything? why pay them high salaries and keep them in big offices then? send them all home and make this country a military run state.

  5. Health Minister Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please RESIGN!!!!!!! you are no good! a big shame on the government because of YOU!!

  6. This isn't the first time dengue fever has had such an effect on the population. This isn't the first epidemic either. Like someone else said, we have 100s of councillors running around the country, or rather sitting comfortably around the country. It's their responsibility to look after the welfare of their constituencies.

    I know that in places like Addu, mosquitoes are a pain in the ass. They love standing water for their sexual habits and we can all try to eliminate standing pools of water. But we can't clear up all rain water pubbles around the country. Hence, a continuous fumigation programme needs to run and not just when an epidemic hits us.

  7. Had Dengue, was in IGMH for about a week, it is painful. Unless you are told how painful it is or you have had it, you may not get how important it is to do whatever must be done to prevent it.

    Push for it to be minimised.

  8. I honestly think Aminath Jameel should resign. She doesn't seem to know anything that's happening in the country neither does she answer phone calls. All she does is travel. Please resign.

  9. The only reason that Aminath Jameel is in the post is because she is a beyfulhu and Andulla Shahid's cousin. Even the MDP MPs doesn't want her.

  10. The President should resign as well as he is directly involved in the day to day operations of Ministries when and if he sees fit.

    He also decides policy direction, project preparation and program implementation.

    People, this country has a specific culture of governance. So if any Ministry has failed, it is clearly HEP himself who cannot deliver.

  11. I salute MDNF for its great efforts in combating the outbreak. However, I have a few disturbing issues.

    Major Abdul Raheem of the MNDF just mentioned that its the first time MNDF is managing DENGUE, an unfamiliar scenario compared to other diseases. We respect such honestly which should be an example to all.

    To Major Raheem and MNDF,
    The main concern is when we see old people and children being fumigated and exposed to this very toxic fumes that will have severe implications in time. It happened in Addu, its happening in Fomulak, Thinadhoo, etc.

    Actually it is easier and cheaper to manage a viral or bacteria outbreak through awareness, teamwork and proper medication (very cheap). However, it will forever be a nightmare for the government and parents to control, manage or stop spread of cancerous illnesses, skin problems, respiratory and lung complications, or even defects in plants and crops. Why? The exposure to harmful pesticides that are accidentally inhaled or people in contact with toxins such as those produced by tonnes of pesticides now being fumigated all over.

    Read about the damage to life and agriculture due to misuse of DDT! To date, many third world countries still have complications.

    You are MNDF, and the public looks at you as the final say in case of any problems in the country. You don't need the majlis or any political body to tell you what to do for the people during crisis and emergencies. Make emergency laws, make the public responsible and aware, penalize offenders who are part of helping mosquitoes to breed and push responsible people in the government to act on the ground and not on media.

    1. Why not call Thursday a full cleaning day of every island, house, resort, farm, boats, etc!
    2. Move population on safe grounds within the island, and do the pest management procedures you have started. Don't repeat the mistake you did in Addu.

    If we have the team work and togetherness we had a few years ago when our football national team won the cup in Colombo, we can eradicate threats of dengue in three days. We can use the millions of ruffiyas businessmen and well wishers keep dishing to sportsmen and celebrities and at least have basic medication is ALL ISLANDS, or even have one speedboat in every island.

    Why should a child die on the dhoni on the way to a regional hospital that isn't equipped or prepared for any emergencies?

    Why should a child die in an atoll that has a resort with countless speedboats, air taxis landing every day. I mean what is wrong with us, where are our moral values, where are the good religious teachings of 'Help your neighbor' and 'don't turn a blind eye'? I am ANGRY!!! but helpless.

    The ball is in your hand. As Egyptians look upon the military to bring he country to stability after dictatorship, we look upon you to instill discipline, coordination and proper management of this human crisis.

    We are with you, not with the power makers or business magnets who haven't done anything to the communities as children die each day, etc. I ask NGOs, especially dealing with women and children to standup. Thank Tiny
    Hearts, thank you Hand in Hand, and thank you individuals out there helping. Without you, we wont know the actual satus in remote islands that have just Upamol as the only medicine.

    Once again, good work MNDF.

  12. @ Critic
    ....fantastic! Who the hell are you?

    To The Minister of Health, are simply unaware or misinformed. I suggest you make no further comments on technical issues that you do not understand. In accordance to your speech:

    A)(“Mosquitoes don’t travel very far,” Dr. Jameel FALSE - please visit .

    ** A mosquito that infected a child in Baa atoll, will comfortably reach Male by dhoni, air taxi or speedboat. It will infect two or three others and maybe end up in Villingili and die naturally.
    **Physically mosquitoes can fly 40miles, imagine with good wind how far will they reach?

    B) "the ministry was providing information to islands through teleconferencing" Dr. Jameel

    ** You mean as Obama spoke to his military commanders using latest technology in Afghanistan after killing Osama? Common, why should a clinic or office have these expensive IT gadgets when it doesn't have basic IV solution, or basic anesthetic medication?? If the government is cutting traveling and mobile phone costs of ministers, then its ok, were you joking when you said that?
    ** What islands? I am right now on an island, they don't have a proper internet connection, even electricity at times! They don't know you, they know Gayoom, Ablo Hameed, least they visited and gave them a jetty and a great mosque (not school or clinic)

    C) “An additional problem that we encounter is the quick turnover of doctors in the country’s hospitals and health centres,” she said. “So they are not very familiar with the protocol here" Dr. Jameel

    **You should have taken advise from Ibrahim Ismail on what happened to Education Ministry. When you opt for cheap, you get short term use'. See most of the fake items we import from china??? cheap and useless!

    Just curious, Do you pay tuition for anyone Hon Minister?, I do for my child, 5 subjects about Rf.10,000/= per month simply because of 'the annual teacher turnover'. You know the whole story. These 5 teachers are professional and responsible for the those A+ and world distinctions in Cambridge exams our kids get today,..ITS NOT THE SCHOOL or Education ministry.

    Just few months ago the nurse in one of the prestige medical center poked my wife 6 times and could find a vein to draw blood, a doctor in gaaf gave an injection to a poor Bangladesh who just got fits..and he died in 2 minutes, Cesarian blunders, hundreds of women suffering with FIBROSIS and ADHESION... blunders from IGMH, ADK, Central, Imperial, and the list goes on. WHY?

    --getting a medical license to open a tooth repair clinic is an easy as getting a license to sell ice cream on the streets, LOCAL INVESTMENT. Do you see how many medical centers we have in Male??? I thought I was in Singapore! I will be the first to fight for poor illegal immigrants who have built the skyscrapers, resorts and schools we enjoy today and we pay treat them like slaves. But medical and educational authorities have made these two fiels part of bazaar business for anyone with USD100K, that's all you need. DONT BLAME doctors, who brought them, who interviewed them?
    ** A doctor is a doctor and he would understand viral and bacterial issues to an extent. If your doctors don't, then maybe we brought three-wheeler drivers as doctors accidentally.

    Hon. minister, if you are a mother and care that much, please don't be on media, gather your experts and use some of the many government launches (am sure GMR, the presidents office and MTCC will provide) and travel to remote communities. Addu is just Male extented district. Visit a small island in Meemu where you get the best rihakulhu for ramazan, you will understand what I am saying.

    Don't resign, just show us you re capable and I believe you have the capabilities. Good luck minister.

  13. Its so worrying to hear children are dying of dengue and hospitals and health centres are filled sick people.

    my child is studying at Grade one.The other day i went to schtool to bring him back home after school.When the final bell rang i went inn and when my son saw me he started to cry and ran to me and hugged.I asked him why and what had happened then he said that theres too many mosquitoes in the class room and he was bitten badly.He stated that "at home mosquitoes and at school mosquitoes,cannot live in this island"

    I was so worried but hepless.

    I had dengue few weeks back.It was so painfull and life threatning.Luckily i was able to go to a neibouring country to have me treated for the disease.I was in ICU for three days.Insha Allah I got better and returned to my family.

    But now due to havy rain our island is flooded again.The islands huge area covers by lake or muddy water which faces huge issues of mosquitoes.

    I urge the government to have a solution for this have plan to control mosquitoes in all islands in Maldives.Please do not focus on politics only.without people there no government.Do not sit back and let us and our children to die.simply the ball is in your hand.Wake up! Maldives.its something we can controll.where is our health care service!!!!Do not give a blind eye.I would like to thank our MNDF team for their effort.

  14. @tsk tsk

    "He also decides policy direction, project preparation and program implementation."

    I was about to say the same. We seemed to have changed the chief, but not our ways of doing things. The chief is still meddling in everything; he doesn't seem to be able to empower his deputies or trust them to carry out their duties.

    Instead of showing that he's doing things for the country; this really shows that the President is incapable of leading! A good leader knows how to delegate and empower those working for him. He doesn't need to micromanage each and every department of the government as President Nasheed seems to be doing. This is as clear a sign as any of Nasheed's failure as a leader. Enough said.


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