‘Doctor for each family’ programme launched for Villimalé residents

The government has launched it’s ‘doctor for each family’ program by providing a doctor for every 2,500 people at the Villimalé Health Center (VHC).

Registration for the program was opened today for anyone who has been living on the island for at least three months. The deadline for registration is 8 March 2012.

The program is one of President Abdulla Yameen’s campaign pledges and also part of the government’s roadmap for the first hundred days which will be reached next week.

Ahmed Zahir, Director at Villimalé Health Center said that through the program a general practitioner, a community health officer, and two nurses will be dedicated to serve each 2,500 people group.

“Through the registration process we will collect information on everyone’s medical history, so their dedicated doctor will be familiar with it. Their [dedicated] doctors will see them and forward the cases to specialist doctors if there is a need,” he explained.

“They will also attend patients who are unable to come to the center in their homes,” he added, noting that in case of emergencies patients could see any doctor they wanted.

Zahir said that after collecting information from Villimalé residents, the center will also do any further tests required.

“The teams will make routine visits as scheduled, and will also be active if there is an epidemic of any sort.”

The schedule for doctor’s visits is yet to be formulated. Currently five doctors have been selected for the programme, and more doctors will be employed after the registration process is completed.

Zahir said that the VHC will be opening a State Trading Organization (STO) pharmacy within three weeks, though no progress has been made on the hundred day pledge of turning the VHC into a hospital.

Other hundred-days pledges of the government included introducing tertiary hospital services in the atolls, improving regional hospitals, establishing cancer and kidney disease treatment facilities, expanding dialysis services to more centers, and introducing mental health care services.

Last month free cervical cancer screening services were introduced at DhamanaVeshi, though the service is yet to be introduced at Hulhumalé  hospital as promised.

The pledge to reform doctors’ pay structure was set to be implemented before being suspended by the president after criticism for the reduction of take-home salaries by MVR10,000 (US$648).

The Ministry of Health and Gender had also pledged to improve the social health insurance system and to increase the number of local doctors working at state health centers.

Building safe houses for women, children, and persons with disabilities on four islands, introducing free public transport for the elderly, providing services of a clinical psychologist for victims of abuse, reducing the negative of divorce on families, and working towards creating a drugs free society was also part of the hundred-day pledges.


Civil Court to hold passport of 82 year old historian Shafeeg

A Civil Court Judge overseeing a defamation case filed by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom today ordered that the passport of 82 year-old historian Ahmed Shafeeg be held.

The judge said the court would seize Shafeeg’s his passport after Gayoom’s lawyer said he had information that Shafeeg was about to leave the country.

Shafeeg was unable to appear at today’s hearing, with media reporting that it was the sixth hearing that had to be cancelled because Shafeeg could not attend the court because of his medical condition.

A medical certificate was presented to the court today by Shafeeg, which Gayoom’s lawyer said was against procedure and that Shefeeg would have to fill a form stating that he could not appear at court due to his medical condition.

Gayoom’s lawyer told the judge that Shafeeg was intentionally dismissing the summons “because he has been attending other functions.”

The lawyer requested the judge summon the doctor who had issued the medical certificate, citing an the incident where former president of Egypt Hosni Mubarak was summoned to the court despite his weak medical condition, and requested the judge to apply the same procedure to Shafeeg’s case.

According to daily newspaper Haveeru, before dismissing today’s hearing the judge said that Shafeeg’s doctor would be summoned to the next hearing.

A spokesperson of the Civil Court confirmed that the media reports were correct and that the judge has ordered Shafeeg’s passport held.

‘’I can confirm that the reports about his passport detention is correct. The judge also said that Shafeeg’s medical service provider will be summoned to the court during the next hearing,’’ he said.

The former President sued Shafeeg after he published a book alleging that 111 inmates disappeared in custody during Gayoom’s administration.


Chennai surgeons reconstruct jaw of Maldivian baby using ribs, genetically-engineered protein

Indian surgeons in Chennai have reconstructed the jaw of an 18-month old Maldivian baby after removing a large bone tumour from his face, in the first operation of its kind to be conducted in India.

India’s Deccan Chronicle newspaper reported that the “grotesque” tumour was removed during six hours of “gruelling” surgery at Chennai’s Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospital, during which time Mohemmed Salik’s lower jaw was reconstructed using three of his ribs, a titanium plane and “three sheets of an expensive genetically-engineered protein that promotes bone growth.”

Craniofacial surgeon S M Balaji told the Chronicle that the rare condition usually led to an operation when the child reached 15 years of age, “however this baby needed immediate surgery as the tumour threatened to permanently disfigure his face and block his nostrils and ear canals.”

The baby’s father, a businessman based in Dubai, told the newspaper that the rare and life-threatening bone disease had appeared when Mohemmed was eight months old, and quickly grown into a “hard balloon” that had disfigured his face and made it impossible for the infant to eat or talk.

Surgeons were reportedly apprehensive about the proceedure, especially given the patient’s age and small size of his blood vessels.

Dr Balaji explained that surgeons first removed a large part of Mohemmed’s upper jaw and then his entire diseased lower jaw, without making an external incision.

“We then harvested three ribs from the child and prepared it with Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP), that attracts stem cells to the area and promotes natural bone growth. The rib grafts were then implanted in the child’s mouth along with a titanium plate for support,” Dr Balaji told the Chronicle.

The newspaper added that six months after the operation, which took place in November last year, Mohemmed had a strong healthy jaw and would soon be fitted with an array of artificial milk teeth, most of which he lost in the operation, later to be replaced by a new set of permanent teeth.


Hithadhoo patients complaining of missing gynaecologist, physician and X-ray machine

Seenu Hithadhoo regional hospital is missing its gynaecologist, physician and x-ray machine, leading to many complaints from patients.

The hospital’s head, Ahmed Mohamed, said the hospital’s only gynaecologist had not shown up for work for a week, while the X-ray machine was damaged and the only physician had departed after completing his contract.

”We have informed the health ministry and they said they will fix all the problems as soon as possible.”

He said there were a lot of patients waiting for the gynaecologist and a lot of complaints from patients due to the broken X-ray machine and missing physician.

He said the nurses and senior medical officers at the hospital were taking care of the women waiting for gynecologist.

”There is a private hospital in this island where they can take X-rays,” he said, ”and people who need to X-ray have to use the machine in that hospital.”

He said that more than 15,000 people lived on the island and more than 150 patients came to Hithadhoo Regional Hospital every day.

Deputy director general of ministry of health Abdul Samad Abdul Rahman said the ministry had received information about all the issues.

”The gynaecologist has told us that she will come out for work tomorrow,” Rahman said, ”and we have been trying with the ADK hospital to fix the X-ray machine.”

He said the ministry was trying to hire a physician and a doctor from abroad, both of whom have been scheduled to arrive next month.


New recruiting policy could lead to doctor shortage

The health ministry has asked Indhira Ghandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) to recruit doctors without offering them a migration allowance.

The migration allowance is a very important factor in attracting foreign doctors to the Maldives.

Miadhu reported that Dr. Mohamed Razi, senior medical officer at IGMH, said he was concerned that low salaries for doctors combined with the cancellation of the migration allowance would make it very difficult to employ doctors.

IGMH and other hospitals were struggling due to the shortage of doctors, he said.

Razi said he believed IGMH would be able to increase salaries and benefits to doctors once it was privatised.