Minister of Health and Family Dr Mariyam Shakeela has said the state will cover all expenses of all children of the woman infected with HIV due to the negligence of state hospital IGMH up until the completion of their studies.
However, details of how many children the woman has or to what standard the government will sponsor their studies and livelihood were not provided.
Shakeela further stated that the unborn child of the pregnant woman is of “good health” and that the baby is “showing a good response” to medication.
“God willing the baby’s progress is good, and is under continued supervision,” she told media after a press conference held together with the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.
Shakeela confirmed that the baby is receiving the “best treatment for HIV that is given by the WHO”, adding that the organisation’s head office in Geneva and the Health Ministry is continuing to hold daily teleconferences on the status of the mother and her unborn baby.
WHO Regional Director for South East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh reiterated that the organisation is extending assistance, and applauded the Maldives government for having taken “productive action” following the incident.
“As a result of the investigation launched by the government, other such issues in the Health Sector will come to light and incidents like this can be avoided in future. Together with this, the capacity of the laboratory can be increased,” Singh said, mentioning that she had visited the IGMH laboratory on Tuesday.
WHO pledges assistance to the health sector
Today’s press conference was officially held to mark the end of Dr Singh’s two day visit to the Maldives. Dr Singh commended the government for its “commitment and vision for universal health coverage for all its citizens”.
Last week, President Abdulla Yameen’s administration announced the introduction of universal healthcare, maintaining that the enhanced coverage – previously capped at MVR100,000 – was financially sustainable.
“The most major challenges faced by the Maldives, like many other countries in the region, is the issue of having sufficient human resources, and the procurement of medicine,” Singh noted.
She said that the WHO was currently working with the government to explore ways in which to ease the procurement of medicines, adding that some initiatives include purchasing generic medicine instead of patented ones, and promoting bulk purchase of medicines – both of which would bring down costs considerably.
Health Minister Shakeela further stated that the government is paying special attention to training more locals to work as nurses and doctors, stating that this would bring down the number of foreign nationals working in the health sector.
Singh further noted that the Maldives has achieved much on the front of strengthening its disease surveillance, response,and case management capacity for dengue control.
“Despite challenges such as high turnover of doctors in the islands, and difficulty in retaining experience and expertise, Maldives has maintained a low case-fatality rate for dengue.”
“This is a country whose collective efforts and strong determination have successfully eliminated malaria and has sustained this remarkable achievement. Maldives is the only country in WHO’s South- East Asia Region to achieve this goal,” she continued.
“We would like Maldives to reflect on the malaria experience and use their expertise to prevent dengue which poses a major public health risk to its citizens.”
Dr Singh also met with Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed on Tuesday and congratulated him on Maldives’ achievements made towards the Millenium Development Goals and what she termed as “gains in public health more broadly over the past decade”.