A female inmate serving a 25-year sentence in a Maldives prison died Saturday (December 29, 2012) after being admitted to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in critical condition.
Local media reported that the woman – a Cameroonian national – was suspected to have died as a result of complications linked to AIDs. These claims were denied by a senior official at the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS), who spoke to Minivan News on condition of anonymity today.
‘’She was admitted at IGMH months ago after doctors at the prison found her medical condition to be very serious,’’ the source said. ‘’We contacted the Cameroon mission and tried to take her to her family.’’
The DPRS source claimed that permission had been obtained to send the inmate back to her home country. However, she was unable to be transported due to the serious nature of medical conditions she had been suffering from.
‘’Here at the DPRS, we do not have one single medical record of her or any other document that confirms she had AIDS,’’ the source said. ‘’I therefore cannot confirm the news in the local media.’
The DPRS Official told Minivan News that the woman was suffering from heart diseases and other related medical conditions.
‘’On previous occasions she was taken to IGMH twice while she was in prison,’’ claimed the source.
Newspaper Haveeru reported today that it understood the deceased, who had been sentenced back in 2011, had been diagnosed with AIDS. No details were provided in the report on how has the newspaper had confirmed details of the condition.
Statistics indicate that HIV infection rates have been limited in the Maldives over the space of the last two decades, although health officials in the country have begun to raise concerns about the potential risk of cases spreading.
Late last year, senior Maldivian health figures confirmed that a two year-old child had tested HIV positive.
In October, 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.
While accepting that HIV infection rates remained relatively low in the Maldives, Minister of State for Health Lubna Zahir Hussain has previously said that efforts needed to be increased across all sectors of society to tackle attitudes towards high-risk behaviours that allow the virus to be transmitted. Lubna also heads the National Drug Agency (NDA).