19 year-old Maldivian HIV patient gives birth

A 19 year-old woman with HIV has given birth to a child last week at the Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), local media have reported

According to online newspaper ‘MV Youth’ the patient was allegedly involved in a sexual relationship with a man with HIV when she was 15 years of age.

The website reported that the man who she had sex with was found guilty of having sex with the girl and sentenced to 19 lashes in 2010 by the Criminal Court. It was not confirmed whether the baby was tested positive to HIV.

Speaking to Minivan News today IGMH Spokesperson Zeenath Ali said that she had not heard of the incident.

‘’Some other news agencies had contacted me today and asked about it but I told them that only the concerned authorities such as Health Ministry and concerned persons from IGMH will have that kind of information,’’ she said.

She said she cannot confirm whether or not the information was true.

On February 27, an expatriate lab technician working at IGMH who was allegedly responsible for the transfusion of HIV positive blood to a pregnant Maldivian patient was taken into police custody.

The technician at fault reported the blood as negative despite the machine showing that it was positive for HIV.

The error was discovered when the patient came in for a routine checkup on February 18, after which the blood test report was reviewed.

The blood sample was taken from a donor found by the patient and not from the hospital’s blood bank and was not previously registered as an HIV patient.

In October 2012, the then Minister of Health Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed claimed it was only through “incredible luck” that HIV had not spread across the Maldives, considering the prolific levels of unprotected sex and intravenous drug use.

Jamsheed at the time spoke of the risks of promiscuity in the society, referring to the 2010 case where police arrested an HIV positive prostitute. He stated that the same prostitute had been identified in the Maldives as being HIV positive in the year 2009 as well.

Since the first case of HIV in 1991, 19 cases of HIV have been reported among Maldivians, while the estimations of HIV positive persons are as high as 70 – 100.

The Health Ministry has previously warned about a possible explosion of HIV/AIDS in the country, with high risk behavior such as drug use and numerous sexual partners a concern.

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Low salaries and safety issues keeping foreign doctors away: Health Ministry

The Ministry of Health has identified salaries and staff safety as the key issues driving “shortages” in the number of trained medical staff coming from abroad to work at hospitals in the Maldives.

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health Geela Ali said that authorities were in the process of trying to recruit a number of medical specialists from across the region, adding that efforts were needed to overcome the various “issues” limiting interest from foreign professionals in coming to the Maldives.

The comments were made as Dr Mohamed Habeeb, presently in charge of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male’, last week raised concerns in local media about a serious shortage of doctors, which he said was having a major impact on services.

IGMH Media Correspondent Zeenath Ali explained to Minivan News today that although paediatric services had been suspended temporarily at IGMH three months ago due to a lack of qualified staff, the services were now operating as normal.

“Previously, we had an issue with the numbers of doctors due to some resignations and contracts finishing,” she said of the difficulties faced three months ago.

Zeenath added that while the issue of having no paediatric staff had since been resolved, IGMH has requested assistance from the Health Ministry in recruiting additional medical specialists to meet patient demand in the capital.

Despite this high demand for medical services, she said IGMH had not since been forced to terminate entire services at the hospital as a result of staff numbers.

“We have four paediatricians presently working at the hospital. But it remains difficult on the international market to try and attract paediatricians to join us,” she said.

According to Zeenath, IGMH has also requested that additional anaesthesiologists be hired to meet the hospital’s present workload. She added that the Ministry of Health was said to be working on recruiting more staff to cope with patient demand.

Speaking about these recruitment efforts, Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Geela said there was presently a shortage of medical staff at hospitals and health centres across the country as a result of ongoing issues – not least in the basic salary packages offered by the state.

“We have been running adverts to try and find qualified staff across the region, but so far we are not seeing adequate response from other countries,” she said.

Geela claimed that salary was among the most prevalent issues authorities had identified as being responsible for shortages in medical staff, with the government pledging to raise wages from January 2014 should the proposals gain parliamentary approval.

“This will allow us to offer better salaries from 2014 and we hope there will be more interest internationally,” she said.

Staff safety

Another challenge for attracting foreign medical staff was ensuring the safety of staff, particularly in the outer atolls.

Geela said that the Health Ministry could not alone ensure safer working environments for foreign medical staff, with wider support from the government and public needed.

“We need a societal approach to try and combat this problem. When we place staff on islands, community support is required to make sure they are looked after,” she said.

Threats

IGMH’s orthopaedic department temporarily ceased working last month after a group of people allegedly threatened a member of staff who had refused to provide a doctor’s note for overseas treatment through the Maldives’ nationwide health insurance scheme, ‘Aasandha’.

A patient, who asked for the doctor’s recommendation to receive medical treatment abroad, was first told by IGMH that such a recommendation could not be made because his injury could be treated in the hospital, according to a statement issued by IGMH.

The hospital claimed the man then refused treatment from IGMH before coming back to the hospital with a group of 10 men who threatened to attack the doctor, stating that he too would have to seek medical treatment through ‘Aasandha’ if he did not write the recommendation note.

The hospital at the time said it was considering the use of police officers maintain security on site following concerns about threats of violence to staff.

Minivan News reported in September 2012 on the alleged widespread intimidation, fraud and “substandard” treatment by patients, health authorities, local staff and the country’s courts faced by expatriate medical professionals in the Maldives.

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Gang stab minor six times

A minor aged under 18 fainted after he was stabbed six times in the back by a gang on Friday, on Izudheen Road in front of Maafannu Cemetery in Male’.

According to police, the boy was stabbed six times in his back and once in his left hand, and fainted on the spot due to the injuries.

The assailants threw away the knives they used in attack and fled on motorbikes against the one way sign boards.

People at the area carried the boy to Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) on a motorbike. He is currently being treated at the hospital.

In a statement, police said the case was reported to police at about 3:15pm on Friday.

Local newspapers reported that the assailants threw the knives they used in the attack into the water drain on the roa, but witnesses recovered the knives and handed them to police.

Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that two persons had been arrested in connection with the case.

Haneef said further details about the persons arrested or the investigation could not be disclosed at the time.

‘’We will provide details later,’’ Haneef added.

On the first of this month, Ali Shifan ‘Tholhi Palay’, 33 of Fairy Corner house was stabbed to death near West Park Restaurant on Boduthakurufaanu Road.

A friend of Shifan told Minivan News at the time that Shifan was attacked while he was waiting in front of West Park Restaurant for a friend.

‘’He was having a coffee inside West Park Restaurant and went out because a friend of him was coming to see him,’’ he said. ‘’He was waiting with another friend and this group shows up with sharp weapons.’’

Last month a 21 year-old man, identified as Abdul Muheeth of G. Veyru, was rushed to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) after he was stabbed at 1:45am near the Finance Ministry building. He later died during treatment.

Police later said that the assailants mistakenly attacked him and that he had no criminal record or affiliations with gangs either.

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