Doctor at Fuvahmulah Hospital refuses to deliver stillborn baby

A doctor at Fuvahmulah Hospital has refused to do C-section surgery on a nine-months pregnant woman whose baby had died in the womb.

The gynecologist refused to do a cesarean, saying she was not ready to take the risk as there was no surgeon or a pediatrician present, local media has reported.

A relative of the patient told Haveeru that they were now waiting for her to give birth naturally as the hospital does not have obstetric gel which is required to ease birth in such situations.

The Ministry of Health and Gender is currently investigating both incidents, telling the press that it would not comment before it had finished.

Citing the family member, Haveeru reported that the patient was first taken to the hospital after she started having labour pains and was immediately taken into the labour room around 10:45pm on May 31.

The hospital reported the next day that both the baby and the mother were in good health, said the relative.

“And this evening (June 1) around 5:30pm, the doctor came out of the labour room and suddenly said the baby has died. According to the doctor the baby’s heart beat went too low. They didn’t provide any further information,” they added.

According to local media reports the female doctor, a Pakistani national who joined the hospital four months ago, is the only gynecologist working at the hospital and had been involved in a similar incident the previous evening.

Media reported that the doctor had refused to do cesarean surgery on a 25-year-old woman brought into the hospital, stating that she was scared to go ahead with it.

Reports say that after making an incision into the patient,  the doctor then sewed it up before the woman was transferred to Hithadhoo regional hospital in the neighbouring atoll for delivery.

Meanwhile, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP Rozaina Adam has today submitted a medical negligence bill to the parliament stating it to be “very important in light of the current medical situation in the Maldives”.

Rozaina told Minivan News that the bill, drafted in 2011, was delayed as she was awaiting both comments and two other bills from the Health Ministry, which medical professionals had told her would complement her proposed legislation.

Following the transfusion of HIV positive blood to a patient due to a technical error at IGMH earlier this year, Rozaina opted to submit the bill without the ministry’s comments.

“We didnt receive any comment from the gender ministry, earlier they said this bill has to come with legislation concerning health professionals and with health services,” explained the Addu Meedhoo MP.

“But three years has passed waiting for their comments, so I decided to submit it – especially considering that such incidents are taking place. From the perspective of patients this cannot be delayed, and I think the government will speed up the other bills once this bill is in the Majlis,” said Rozaina.


Gender ministry explains 5-year delay in child abuse register

The Ministry of Health and Gender has explained to local media the reasons behind the failure to compile a legally mandated registry of child abusers.

State minister Dr Aishath Ramila told Haveeru that the Child Protection Services unit – required to compile the list under the 2009 Child Sex Abuse (Special Protection) Act – did not have access to the criminal records necessary to complete the register.

“Even if we look at other countries, an Offenders Registry is always with the Police of the country. This is because all the criminal records of the offenders are within the police database,” Dr Ramila told Haveeru.

Furthermore, the minister suggested that the compact communities unique to the Maldives islands made the public naming of abusers problematic.

“For example, when the child abuser’s own children go to school, they may be bullied by other children at school. These instances may occur and we need to think about this.”

A growing number of child abuse cases have been reported to police in recent weeks, with the Human Rights Commission calling for greater awareness raising and legal protection for children.


‘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.


President suspends new pay structure for doctors

President Abdulla Yameen has suspended the implementation of a new salary structure for doctors.

The Ministry of Health and Gender had said the new structure, which came into effect on January 1, would increase doctors’ salaries. However, doctors have claimed their total take-home salaries would decrease by as much as MVR10,000 (US$648).

According to a statement by the President’s Office, the government is now reviewing the complaints regarding the new salary structure and will hold discussions with stakeholders to revise the structure.


Maldives to withdraw reservations on women’s rights treaty

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs today announced the government’s intention to withdraw the reservations of the Maldives to the UN Woman’s Rights Treaty.

The Ministry has informed the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that the Maldives will shortly be withdrawing the controversial national reservation, which limits key aspects of the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The reservation restricts the application of Article 7(a) of CEDAW, under which state parties commit “to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right: (a) to vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies.”

Under the 1998 Constitution, women were banned from running for president. Article 109 of the new Constitution of 2008 does not include any restrictions based on gender under “qualifications for election as President”.

Aishath Zahir, Deputy Additional Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “this withdrawal is reinforcing the Constitution,” and “it reinforces our obligations under international law.”

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women had repeatedly asked the Maldives to withdraw this reservation, since it was contrary to the purpose of the Convention of Women’s Rights and went against the principle of the equality of women and men.

The withdrawal of the restriction on Article 7(a) is a necessary official notification from the Maldivian government to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the statement claimed. This is being done so that “the new reality is fully reflected in international law.”

Because under the new Constitution parliament must approve any changes in the legislature, it is necessary for the government to submit a procedural bill to the Majlis seeking approval.

“As soon as it’s passed by the Majlis we will lodge our instrument of withdrawal to the UN,” said Zahir.

The Bill has been prepared by the Department of Gender and Family in the Ministry of Health and will soon be considered by the People’s Majlis.

Minister of Foreign Affaris Dr Ahmed Shaheed said the reservation was “a relic of a time in the Maldives when women were openly and explicitly discriminated against even within our primary legal framework.”

He added that this withdrawal makes explicitly clear that “everyone is entitled to the same rights and freedoms…without discrimination of any kind, including based on gender”.