Bangkok Hospital to provide Aasandha healthcare coverage

The Ministry of Health has held discussions with Bangkok Hospital to provide Aasandha, the Maldives universal healthcare scheme, in Thailand.

The ministry said today that discussions with Bangkok Hospital were held between heads of Bangkok Hospital and the acting Minister of Health Mohamed Nazim, reported local media Sun Online.

The discussions reportedly included providing specialist services and medical equipment to the Maldives, establishing a mechanism to prevent shortages of drugs, improving health clinic services in the Maldives, and ensuring the availability of certain drugs at Bangkok Hospital through Aasandha.

Earlier this year, President Abdulla Yameen inaugurated the ‘Unlimited Aasandha’ universal health scheme, as a part of his presidential campaign pledge and his first hundred day programme.

At the time, Yameen assured that the new unlimited service will be an upgrade from the existing Aasandha programme introduced by President Mohamed Nasheed which encountered a number of issues, particularly with regards to sustainability.


Kaashidhoo MP Jabir returns to prison after treatment

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Abdulla Jabir has been transferred back to prison after receiving treatment for breathing difficulties.

Jabir was admitted to the hospital on April 8, with his wife Dhiyana Saeed at the time telling local media that he was brought to Malé to be treated for respiratory defects with which he had been born.

The Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) has told local media that Jabir was discharged from the hospital yesterday afternoon and was handed to Malé Jail’s medical department.

The Kaashidhoo MP is currently serving a one year sentence for a failure to provide urine to police for testing.

An official from the MCS told local newspapers that Jabir had requested a medical test of his heart but that the service was not available in Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

He said that the service was now trying to facilitate a way to permit him to go abroad to do the medical test, adding that the MCS would obtain all the medical documents of Jabir before submitting them to the medical board.

Local media has also reported that Jabir was returned to jail with a bilevel positive airway pressure machine – reportedly obtained from Singapore

In a text to MDP parliamentary group members, Dhiyana said: “The pulmonologist who saw him says his previous surgeries for severe sleep apnoea has failed and needs to be admitted.”

Sleep apnoea is a type of sleep disorder characterised by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep.

In an interview with Vnews earlier this month, Dhiyana has said her husband had been in hospital since April 8, revealing that doctors had informed her that Jabir’s breathing stopped four times every hour.

MCS Spokesperson Hassan Zilaal was not responding to calls at time of press.

In February 2014, Jabir was sentenced to jail after being found him guilty of failing to provide a urine sample to police to run a drug test following his arrest on the island of Hondaidhoo in November 2012.

A total of 10 people were taken into police custody on November 16 after police raided and searched Hondaidhoo with a court warrant. Officers alleged they found large amounts of drugs and alcohol upon searching the island.

Seven of the suspects, including the MDP MPs Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and Jabir were among those charged.

At the time, police submitted cases against former SAARC Secretary General and Special Envoy to the former President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, former President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair and his wife Mariyam Faiz. The manager of Jabir’s resort J Alidhoo Jadhulla Jaleel and Zaki’s son Hamdan Zaki also face charges.

The prosecutor general also charged Jabir for possessing cannabis before he was acquitted by the court on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to prove that he was in possession of cannabis when detained by police.

Charges of alcohol possession remain outstanding, with the last hearing of Jabir and Hamid’s joint trial being suspended due to Jabir’s hospitalisation.

Following the ‘Hondaidhoo’ incident the Prosecutor General has also charged Jabir for possessing alcohol. The trial of the case still continues in the Criminal Court.


EC rejects Jabir’s arguments for annulment of Kaashidhoo poll

The Elections Commission (EC) has responded to accusations made in the ongoing trial of the case filed by Maldivian Democratic Party MP Abdulla Jabir who lost his seat in the recent parliamentary elections.

In the High Court, Jabir has requested the invalidation of the result on the grounds that he was restrained from the right to campaign, and that the ballot box kept in the island of Gaafaru was not closed on time.

Jabir has also claimed that Home Minister Umar Naseer made comments that influenced the elections by saying he would very soon establish a prison in Jabir’s constituency of Kaashidhoo, and that Jabir – currently serving a twelve month jail sentence – would be transferred to that prison.

EC lawyer and former Attorney General Husnu Suood told the court that Jabir was in prison as a result of his own actions and that there was nothing that commission could do to solve this issue.

Suood told the court that every candidate has a representative, the purpose of which was to assist the candidate in such situations, and that the commission believes Jabir lost the right to campaign when incarcerated for a failure to provide a urine sample to police.

Furthermore, Suood pointed out that the ballot box in Gaafaru was closed later than the other boxes because the box had been opened later than others on the day of voting.

According to local media, Jabir presented the names of 36 persons to support his argument in the court as well as the audio recording of Umar Naseer’s remarks on establishing a prison in Kaashidhoo.

The decision to build an open prison on the island of Kaashidhoo was first announced by the Home Ministy in September last year, two months prior to Umar Naseer’s appointment as home minister.

In February, the Criminal Court sentenced Jabir to one year in prison after the court found him guilty of refusing to provide a urine sample to police after his arrest on the private island of Hondaidhoo in November 2012.

The Prosecutor General also charged Jabir for possession of cannabis before the court ruled that there was not enough evidence to find him guilty.

Jabir’s trial on alcohol possession charges – also stemming from the Hondaidhoo incident – was postponed last week after the MP was hospitalised with breathing difficulties.

In an interview with Vnews today, Jabir’s wife Dhiyana Saeed has said her husband had been in hospital since April 8, revealing that doctors asked to bring a bilevel positive airway pressure machine from Singapore.

Dhiyana also told the news outlet that doctors had informed her that Jabir’s breathing stops four times every hour.

She said that doctors had not recommended taking Jabir abroad for medical treatment, and that his medical reports were being sent directly to the Maldives Correctional Services.


President promises Hithadhoo hospital construction

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has stated that the construction of a new 100-bed hospital in Hithadhoo, Addu City will be begin this year, according to local media Sun Online.

The announcement was made at a Progressive Party of Maldives event in Hithadhoo last night (March 18).

Sun Online quoted President Yameen as saying “Construction of a 100-bed hospital in Hithadhoo will also begin, God willing, within this year.” According to their report the new hospital will be funded by aid from a foreign government.

According to the report, President Yameen also highlighted a number of other construction projects underway, including a new operation theatre in Hithadhoo Regional Hospital.


Voice of Women fears further discrimination for IGMH scandal victims

Maldivian NGO Voice of Women has expressed concern that the victims of the recent HIV scandal at Indira Ghandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) will suffer from further discrimination.

“Our foremost concern is that the mother and child will be subject to unfair and unfounded discrimination based on societal myths and misinformation about the disease,” said the women’s rights NGO.

Despite acknowledgements that the Maldives as a society exhibits a number of high risk behaviors for transmission of HIV, the number of people reported to be living with the illness is less than 100.

The incident, in which HIV positive blood was given to a female patient – whom local media has reported to be pregnant – became public last week.

Following similar calls from the Human Rights Commission, Voice of Women has called for the protection of the patient’s identity as well as urging concerned parties to initiate public awareness campaigns.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has accused the government of hiding the news – first discovered 8 days prior to the public announcement – until the conclusion of celebrations marking its policy achievements since assuming power.

Health Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela has rejected calls for her resignation, arguing that the incident was  a one off. She did, however, inform a Majlis committee last week that the health sector was severely underfunded.

An Indian expatriate – allegedly responsible for incorrectly marking the blood test – is currently being held in police custody. IGMH Deputy CEO Dr Mohamed Habeeb told MPs on the government oversight committee that the Indian national had admitted his culpability in the incident.

Voice of Women have been critical of the tone taken by Dr Shakeela in the aftermath of the incident, suggesting she had failed to take responsibility for the systemic failures that led to the incident – instead blaming a single individual.

“We are concerned by repeated calls by the Minister for harsh and criminal punishment for an individual. The punishments should be relevant and take into consideration the failure of the system (if that is the case) rather than laying responsibility solely on an individual,” read the group’s press release.

The NGO also questioned the police’s ability to conduct what it suggests ought to be a medical inquiry.

Further incidents and president’s response

Local media yesterday reported that a similar incident had occurred in nearby Hulhumalé Hospital, with a male patient attempting suicide after mistakenly being told he had hepatitis B.

CNM reported that hospital staff had advised the man to separate from his wife before discovering that the test results were in fact those of another patient. After taking a knife and some rope to the local football pitch, locals dissuaded the man from killing himself. The family are reportedly planning to submit a complaint to the Health Ministry.

Director General of Health Services Dr Sheeza Ali was not responding to calls at the time of press, while Permanent Secretary at the Health Ministry Geela Ali denied any knowledge of the incident.

After being criticised for failing to mention the incident during yesterday’s state address at the opening of the Majlis, President Yameen last night commented on the IGMH incident for the first time.

During a campaign event for Henveiru Dhekunu constituency PPM candidate Mohamed Riyaz, the president was reported as saying that the incident ought not to have happened under any circumstances.

Yameen went on to note that overcrowding at IGMH – which he described as being “busier than the fishmarket” – was a problem that needed resolving urgently.

“If we look at the health minister’s statements at the People’s Majlis committee, there are clinics in Malé. There is a land and building given at a cheap rate – free –  called ADK,” Haveeru quoted Yameen as saying.

The privately-run ADK hospital is the capital’s second largest, and is run by the ADK Group. The group is chaired by the Maldivian Democratic Party candidate for the Komandoo Dhaairaa constituency, Ahmed Nashid.

Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed met today with representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), though the President’s Office did not report the IGMH incident as having been discussed.

Shakeela has said that she sought the assistance and advice of the WHO upon learning of the incident on February 19.


Orthopedic surgeries halted as IGMH fails to provide protective gowns

Read this article in Dhivehi

Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) has “temporarily delayed” some orthopedic surgeries after State Trading Organisation (STO) failed to supply lead gowns for medical staff, Deputy CEO Dr Mohamed Habeeb has said today.

He said the only surgeries affected by this would be those that require real-time X-ray monitoring, and that the hospital was expecting to receive the gowns very soon.

The lead gowns, like most other medical supplies for the hospital, are purchased through the STO, said Habeeb. The STO is a public company, with more than ninety two percent shares owned by the government.

“We have ordered replacements even last year. We might get them even by tonight. STO is working on it right now,” said Habeeb.

The purpose of lead gowns is to prevent the unnecessary and frequent exposure of medical staff to radiation which can cause cancer, infertility, and birth defects. While an estimated minimum of ten gowns are usually required for a surgery, the hospital currently has only two fit for use.

An IGMH nurse who often has to assist such surgeries told Minivan News that it has now been more than two years since they started requesting for new gowns. Letters have been written informing all relevant authorities of the situation, she added.

Orthopedic surgeries are done three days a week at the hospital, she explained, and on some days more than six of these surgeries require lead gowns.

“They [the remaining usable gowns] are usually taken by the doctors, saying they are closer to the source. Some staff have panicked after finding out they are pregnant. That risk is always there. And we are concerned about the patients as well. I have never seen any patient being offered a gown here,” she continued.

She stated that when patients need urgent attention, nurses cannot ignore and refuse to attend them even with the risks. Following a decision made by the department today, they will not be attending such surgeries until gowns are provided for them.

Head of the IGMH Orthopedic Department Dr Yoosuf Shan has told ‘Haveeru‘ that a memo highlighting the department’s decision has been sent to the heads of IGMH and the Health Minister.

“Radiation exposure could cause cancer. Most nurses assisting the surgeries are women. Without lead gowns their children could be born with birth defects. So as a precautionary measure we were forced to stop some of surgeries. They will continue only after we received lead gown,” Dr Shan was quoted as saying.

IGMH could not identify the exact reason for the delay in acquiring the gowns and the STO was unable to put Minivan News in touch with the relevant person.

Last November STO stopped supplying medicine to IGMH after it reached a set credit limit. At the time STO managing director Shahid Ali told local media that the Hospital had to pay approximately MVR 200 million to the organisation.

STO later resumed supples after raising the credit limit by MVR5 million in addition to the MVR411 million credit limit which includes payments going back to 2011.

Following the failure of other state owned company’s to pay almost US$40 million in bills owed to the STO, President Abdulla Yameen declared the organisation bankrupt last November. The company subsequently launched a campaign to cut operational costs by MVR50 million in 2014 (US$ 3,242,542).


Thinadhoo Regional Hospital renamed to honour late foreign minister

The name of Thinadhoo Regional Hospital has been changed to Dr Samad Memorial Hospital, President Mohamed Waheed announced yesterday (August 28), reports local media.

Waheed was advised by his cabinet members to change the hospital’s name to “create a long lasting tribute” to the late Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla.

A special remembrance meeting will be held in tribute to Samad’s “distinguished services” – a scholarship has already been announced in his memory.


ADK hospital extends lease, signals US$23 million expansion

Male’s privately-owned ADK hospital has extended its lease by 50 years and announced a US$23 million to expand services.

The hospital’s Chairman Ahmed Nashid told local media the expansion project would be partly funded using a loan from the German Development Bank, and would double the hospital’s capacity.

The expansion will include four operating theatres, critical care facility, a senior citizen’s unit, cardiac laboratory, MRI machine and a power house, ADK Managing Director Ahmed Afaal told local media.

The hospital will also construct a health science school and grant 10 scholarships providing board and lodging for students coming to Male from the islands.


Addu City to receive 100-bed hospital from Saudi Fund and OFID: Health Ministry

A 100-bed hospital is to be built in Addu City later this year, the Health Ministry has announced.

The ministry’s Director General of Health Services Dr Sheeza Ali told local media that there are to be more planned projects to be conducted with the help of international aid this year.

“One thing we are working on right now is to establish a 100-bed Hospital in Addu Atoll. The funds have been approved, but a lot of work needs to be done before the project can begin. We are now working on that,” Sheeza was quoted as saying in local media.

According to the Health Ministry, the Addu City hospital project is to be carried out with financial support from the Saudi Fund and the OPEC fund for International Development (OFID).

Local media reported that the hospital project could not begin until certain conditions proposed by both the Saudi Fund and OFID were met.