IGMH transfuses HIV positive blood to patient

Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) has transfused HIV positive blood to a patient due to a technical error in the laboratory, the hospital and Ministry of Health and Gender revealed last night.

According to the hospital, the incident took place on February 3, with discovery of the error not made until February 19. The failure to reveal the incident earlier was, according to IGMH, due to a delay in receiving an internal report on the case.

Conversely, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had accused the government of covering up the incident so as not to overshadow the government’s celebrations of its first 100 days in office.

At a joint press conference held last night, IGMH Deputy CEO Dr Mohamed Habeeb and Director General at the Ministry of Health and Gender Dr Sheeza Ali apologised for the incident.

Describing it as the “saddest incident in the eighteen year history of IGMH”, Dr Habeeb sad he was sharing the news with “grief and shame” and that he “apologised to the patient, the patient’s family, and all citizens of the Maldives”.

Reassuring that the services provided at the public hospital are safe, Dr Habeeb said the hospital has “state of the art” laboratory equipment and that the incident was caused by the “negligence of an individual”.

After investigating the case it was found that the lab technician was aware that the blood was infected even at the time it was taken, continued Habeeb, adding that the technician had subsequently reported the blood to be clean.

The technician in question has been suspended and the case reported to Maldives Police Service.  According to the hospital, no acts of negligence had been noticed from the technician in his previous seven years of employment.

Speaking at the press conference, Habeeb said the incident had brought some issues within the hospital to light. He assured that those issues would be addressed and all arrangements would be made to prevent any future incidents.

Just yesterday it was revealed that the hospital had been forced to suspend certain surgical procedures after it had been unable to procure the necessary safety equipment.

According to the ministry, immediate treatment has been started for the patient by the government as per WHO guidelines. As all information regarding HIV patients are held as confidential by the state – in accordance to WHO guidelines – no details of the patient or the donor were revealed.

However, local media outlet Haveeru has suggested that the patient is a Maldivian woman and also that she is pregnant.

Cover up and negligence

The MDP has promptly accused the government of a cover up, with a press release issued today accusing authorities of deliberately hiding the issue until the administration’s first hundred day celebrations were over.

“They deliberately kept the news from the public in order to show that those hundred days are not dark and terrifying days”.

The party has compared the cover-up to the murder of prisoner Evan Naseem in 2003, the fallout from which accelerate the country’s democratic reforms.

Condemning the incident, the MDP described it as as a reflection of the current status of health sector in the Maldives, accusing the government of neglecting the health affairs of the people and destroying public trust in the sector.

The party stated that blaming a single individual for the incident was a matter of concern and that the heads of the health sector had not taken responsibility. Despite repeated attempts, at the time of press Minivan News had been unable to get a response from senior figures in the Health Ministry or IGMH, including Minister of Health Dr Mariyam Shakeela.

MDP MP Mohamed ‘Shippe’ Shifaz – a member of the parliament’s government accountability committee – today said  that the Health Ministry would be summoned to the committee regarding the matter.

State minister for Fuwad Gasim said the ministry was trying  very hard to manage the situation and bring about necessary changes.

“Of course we are very much saddened and it shouldn’t happen..but unfortunately it has happened and we will take the necessary action regarding the people involved in it,” he said.

Fuwad also noted the importance of having medical negligence act, saying that – as there is no such law currently in force –  that  medical professionals should be careful.

A medical negligence bill was drafted by MP Rozaina Adam in 2011, though she today explained that the legislation is currently stalled in the Health Ministry.

“I sent it for their comments and it has been with the ministry since then. Another issue was, when it was discussed with medical professionals, they suggested that it should come with another bill related to administration and the health services bill. But that bill was drafted by the ministry,” Rozaina said.

With or without the comments of the ministry, stated Rozaina, the bill will now be sent to the parliament for discussion as soon it returns from recess.

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 behaviour such as drug use and numerous sexual partners a concern.


Free cervical cancer screening service at DhamanaVeshi

Health Protection Agency has begun cervical cancer screening at “Dhamana Veshi” (formerly Male’ Health Center), Vnews has reported.

According to the Ministry of Health the service will be provided one day every week, and 25 appointment for screening will be issued.

According to the Ministry, the first phase of this project – funded by UNFPA – will be implemented with assistance from Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

The service will be provided as a public health service without any charge. The Health Ministry recommends women of 30 – 50 years to take this test at least once every five years. The service was part of the Health Ministry’s ‘first hundred days plan‘.


Government to introduce nationwide sea-ambulance service

The government has announced it is to start a sea ambulance service within two months and expand it nationwide within the year, Haveeru has reported.

In a press conference held to announce the service, Ministry of Defense Mohamed Nazim said it will be initially launched for four regions and later expanded to twenty three zones, covering the whole country. According to Haveeru, the service will be covered under the Aasandha national health insurance scheme.

“The objective is to take patients to a health center instead of bring them to Malé,” Nazim was quoted as saying.

Speed boats under the Ministry of Health, Maldives Police Services and Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) are to be converted into ‘sea-ambulances’ for the service, with enough space for patients and necessary health equipment.

Quoting Health Minister Mariyam Shakeela, Haveeru reported that to this day a health ambulance service was not provided properly and only six out of twenty six speed boats owned by the ministry were usable.

The service will be begin with a government allocated budget, but will depend on funding from the United Nations and the Red Crescent, Shakeela was quoted as saying. According to the minister, the service will create new jobs, where employees will be well trained and covered by a special insurance scheme.

The MNDF will be managing the ambulances and emergency operations will be carried out by MNDF area commands.


Vice-president announces unlimited health insurance from January 1

Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has announced the government’s intention to introduce unlimited health insurance – ‘Husnuvaa Aasandha’ – on January 1.

Speaking at the launch of the government’s 100 day manifesto for the Ministry of Health, Jameel promised that the government’s pledge to provide a General Practitioner for every family would also be introduced in the new year.

One month on from the inauguration of President Abdulla Yameen, the government has produced similar 100 day roadmaps in a number of departments, including transport, immigration, and the security forces.

The current scheme – introduced under the administration of President Mohamed Nasheed – set a limit of MVR100,000 (US$6,485) annually for health services for all Maldivian nationals from hospitals and health centres operated by health corporations as well as private hospitals and clinics.

The initial scheme soon proved costlier than the government had envisioned, however, with hundreds reaching their entitlement limit within just a few months. Rocketing demand for services saw a reported 7000-8000 people using the scheme every day, at a cost of up to MVR3 million (US$194,552).

Caps were subsequently introduced on medicines and certain services provided in private clinics and hospitals as well as fees introduced for services at private clinics.

Vice President Jameel said last night called on the private sector to aid the government in providing affordable healthcare.

A recent World Bank report noted that a total of 276,033 citizens – around 84 percent of the population – had used the Aasandha service in its first year, representing about 2.8 percent of 2012’s GDP.

“Overall, a total of about 3.6 million transactions were recorded in the first year that represented an average 13.2 transactions per patient, a relatively high figure for a country with a predominantly young population and limited availability of medical service providers,” said the World Bank.

The same report – the ‘Maldives Development Update’  – described the country as “spending beyond its means”.

At present, public debt stands at an “unsustainable” 81 percent of GDP, the report stated projecting the debt will rise further to about 96 percent by 2015.

The World Bank saw the fiscal sustainability of the Aasandha scheme as its major challenge, offering a series of recommendations to achieve this.

“Substantive savings could be achieved without significantly compromising coverage and quality of services by re-designing the scheme with a focus on provider incentives.”

The World Bank went on to suggest that the bulk purchase of essential and generic drugs could reduce the costs of the scheme, as could tighter controls on overseas treatments.

Jameel has previously acknowledged that a lack services has forced many Maldivians to live abroad for medical purposes, pledging chemotherapy in the public Indira Ghandi Memorial Hospital, as well as nine dialysis units.

He has also promised that screening to diagnose cervical cancer would be introduced under a government insurance scheme.

Jameel had previously stated that the specifics of the government’s health proposals would begin “as soon as we get the budget for it”. The details of the 2014 budget continue to be discussed in the Majlis, with the final draft due to be presented to the full chamber at the end of the week.


Government to introduce chemotherapy, unlimited Aasandha and a doctor for every family in 100 days

Acting Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen has said President Abdulla Yameen’s administration will provide chemotherapy services, a doctor for every family, and will upgrade government’s health insurance scheme ‘Aasandha’ to provide unlimited services within the first 100 days of government.

Speaking at a press briefing held at the President’s Office late last week, Ameen pledged to improve the health sector. He said unlimited Aasandha services will bring an end to prescription drugs shortages and ease the process of obtaining medical care for chronic diseases.

“Unlimited Aasandha” was a key pledge of the Progressive Party of the Maldives.

Ameen said providing unlimited health care will not be a “burden” on the state budget or the client. Further details will be revealed at a later date, he added.

President Yameen has said the government’s economy is in a “deep pit” and vowed to cut state expenditure.

Ameen noted several Maldivians had moved abroad to obtain chemotherapy, as the service is currently not available in the Maldives and pledged to provide chemotherapy through the government’s health scheme Aasandha.

The government has also promised to provide cervical cancer screening services within 100 days.


Trapped in the Maldives: foreign nationals stranded due to employers, state failing to resolve visa issues

A growing number of foreign nationals are finding themselves forbidden from leaving the Maldives by immigration staff, due to the failure of state and private employers to renew visa documentation.

The Indian High Commission in the Maldives told Minivan News it was now demanding government intervention after receiving complaints from expatriates claiming they have been blocked from boarding planes at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), and stranded in the country indefinitely.

Minivan News has learned of cases where expatriates from India, the UK, the US and the Philippines have been blocked from leaving the country due to issues with visa documentation attributable to the negligence of state authorities and employers – in some cases, government ministries.

Unable to leave – and in some cases fined extortionate sums on behalf of the employer – foreigners are complaining of being trapped without funds, accommodation or legal representation.

As employers are responsible for arranging work permits on behalf of their foreign employees, foreign nationals are unable to submit or collect their own visa documentation, effectively stranding them in the Maldives at the mercy of their employers and state authorities while renewals are underway.

One UK national, seeking to ensure his own work permit was processed, even told Minivan News he was refused service at the immigration office on the grounds of “Where’s your owner?”.

An Indian High Commission source this week accused authorities of persecuting foreign nationals for the failure of the state and private employers to correctly renew or register foreign staff in the required time, depriving expatriates of their freedom of movement.

In just the past few days, the high commission said two Indian nationals had missed flights and been stranded in the Maldives while waiting for employers and government authorities to resolve the outstanding issues with their paperwork.

One of those affected, licensed pathologist at the state-run Indira Ghandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), Dr Anjula Jain, was prevented from returning to India last week after completing her contract with the Ministry of Health.

She was forced to wait several days before receiving approval to book another flight with her own money.

Dr Jain has since filed an official complaint over her treatment with the Indian High Commission.

A High Commission source said Dr Jain had been told at immigration counter that she could not leave the country as her work visa had expired, despite the Health Ministry being in the process of renewing her documents.

Despite possessing papers showing the renewal process was ongoing, the doctor was still refused permission to leave.

Dr Jain was then asked to obtain a letter from the Health Ministry confirming the renewal of her documents was underway, before finally obtaining clearance from the Department of Immigration to leave the country days later.

The High Commission source said it was extremely concerned that Maldives employers, especially state authorities such as the Health Ministry, were continuing to employ foreign nationals even after their visas had expired, resulting in serious difficulties for the workers.

“There is a serious problem here for expatriates working for private and government companies where a visa is not renewed in time, with some people even having their bank accounts frozen and being deprived of their rights,” the source said.

“One call is too many,” the source said. “Concerns have been raised with [State Foreign Minister] Hassan Saeed as some similar cases have been brought to our attention. [The commission] will be checking with authorities that a systematic resolution can be found by the government to resolve this issue.”

Trapped in Male

Several foreign staff of varying nationalities working in areas ranging from tourism to the NGO sector have told Minivan News they are effectively barred from leaving due to problems with paperwork they are unable to resolve without the assistance of ambivalent employers and immigration staff.

One US national working in the NGO sector told Minivan News that she remains blocked from leaving the country due to a delay in obtaining a visa stamp in her passport, after discovering at the immigration counter that a previous employer had failed to pay outstanding visa charges.

Speaking to Minivan News on condition of anonymity, the woman said that during a recent attempt to fly to Sri Lanka for a medical reasons, immigration staff  had summoned an airline official, who had ripped up her ticket in front of her.

“I spent a year working for my former employer. It took six months of demanding my passport be returned to me before it was, however I was constantly reassured all my documentation was in order and there were just processing delays. So I was very surprised to discover they had failed to pay the appropriate work visa fees,” she said.

“This has not only caused problems for my current employer, it has put me in a very vulnerable position as an expatriate worker. I’ve been prevented from leaving the country – urgently for health reasons – by the Immigration Department because of these unpaid fees resulting in my documentation not being properly updated.”

The US national said she was now effectively at the mercy of previous employers to resolve the outstanding payments, as she was unable to afford the the MVR 15,000 (US$1000) in fines demanded by immigration authorities to allow her to leave the country.

“Despite being in constant contact with my former employer about these issues, and some of the members showing genuine concern, they have still failed to resolve the issue nearly seven months later. Instead they blame me for these issues, when it’s clearly their own professional incompetence. It’s a foul betrayal to have dedicated so much time and energy, as well as made numerous personal sacrifices, in order to partner with this organisation to achieve their mission, merely to be blatantly disrespected as a professional and individual,” she said.

“Foreign workers in the Maldives – of any nationality – are treated like slaves, or indentured servants at best.  As a professional woman, it’s worse because you have to navigate the sexism and endure a lot of harassment – which would never be allowed if this was a country that respected its foreign employees.”

By contrast, the US national believed the only method to have visa documentation approved in a quick manner was to go through recruitment ‘agents’, alleging that corruption seemed to be endemic within the system, despite tight restrictions imposed on foreign professionals.

“The most ridiculous part of the situation is that in addition to my former employer’s incompetence, the department of immigration has been in a state of flux since Feb 2012, but this is not taken into consideration by the government. They don’t care. Illegal foreign workers are brought into the country and exploited in droves, but immigration punishes legitimate workers claiming they know what they are supposed to do,” she argued.

Employees must take responsibility: Immigration

The Department of Immigration confirmed it was aware that foreign nationals had been prevented from leaving due to their employers not having obtained visas correctly.

However, the immigration authority argued that the Maldives, like countries all over the world, required foreign nationals to have the correct visa documentation to enter or leave the country, even to their homeland.

Immigration Department spokesperson Ibrahim Ashraf said all expatriates would be aware that, in order to stay in a foreign country, it was mandatory to have the correct and valid visa.

Ashraf said that there had been a “huge backlog” of visas that were required to be processed by employers such as the health and education ministries, claiming that immigration authorities had made special arrangements to fast track visa renewals.

“This should not be happening,” he said of expatriates being prevented from boarding flights out of the country.

Ashraf claimed the Immigration Department had not been made aware of any concerns raised by the Indian High Commission over the issue of stranded workers, suggesting some issues may have been related to a “huge misunderstanding” of the visa system by employers.

“Payments for visas have to be made to the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA), with passports then officially needing to be processed with the Department of Immigration once payment is complete,” he said. “The visa sticker has to be there in the passport.”

Ashraf stressed that a correct visa sticker was requested by airlines as well as foreign authorities to allow a foreign national to board any international flight.

Health Ministry backlog

Responding to the Indian High Commission’s concerns about Dr Jain, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health Geela Ali told Minivan News said she was unaware of the case.

However, she accepted there had been issues with foreign doctors not being able to leave the country as a result of problems relating to visa extension issues, such as the transfer of staff from health corporations established under the previous government back to the ministry.

Geela insisted there were no longer recurring problems with visa extension of expatriates working for the health ministry, despite a backlog of outstanding documentation preventing staff from leaving, and said many issues had been resolved.

“The matter is now under control, but obviously there will sometimes be employees who cannot leave over visa issues,” she said.

Geela said IGMH was responsible for its large foreign workforce, and any workers who were facing issues leaving the country.

Indian authorities meanwhile last year slammed the government and some private employers for failing to reissue visa documentation to expatriates who were forced in some cases to wait weeks in Male to return home for visits and emergencies, including one worker’s own wedding.

In January, the high commission provided local media with a list of 11 grievances affecting its relationship with the Maldives, including discrimination, the keeping of passports of Indian nationals by employers, and the failure to repatriate mortal remains of foreign workers.

The source expressed confidence that authorities would find a resolution to the various grievances raised, despite claiming that no progress had made on any of the issues raised at time of press.


New drug-resistant strain of TB found in Maldives “quite serious”: HPA

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has warned that a new drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis (TB) that has appeared in the Maldives poses “quite a serious threat” to people’s health.

The agency’s comments follow a report released by the Ministry of Health on Sunday (March 24), revealing that it faces new challenges in order to control the disease in the Maldives.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), TB is an infectious bacterial disease that can be transmitted via droplets in the throat and lungs of the infected.

WHO states that drug-resistant strains of TB have become a major public health problem that has resulted from patients not fully completing the recommended six-month course of treatment.

HPA Public Health Program Officer Shina Ahmed told Minivan News today (March 25) that although the new strain of TB is “quite serious”, the particular strain found in the Maldives is not resistant to every drug available to patients.

“We have had a few cases come in now with the new strain. The most important thing we have to do is to continue and complete the course of treatment.

“Most of these drug-resistant strains are caused by patients stopping the treatment. We have enough drug supplies to give to them, but because the course goes on for six months, patients tend to go off taking the treatment towards the end,” Shina said.

Local media reported that the Health Ministry had revealed that 10,563 people had been registered to receive treatment for TB since 1963, out of which 5,256 people were said to have infected lungs.

Shina claimed that the majority of cases within the Maldives have been reported on the islands as opposed to Male’, and that in order to prevent the spread of the disease the HPA will be undertaking awareness programs.

An official from Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male’ stated that there was no need for the public to be concerned in regard to the spread of the disease, adding that there may have been only “one or two” cases found to have contracted the new strain.

“When we find a patient who is not responding to the prescribed course of treatment, there is always a second course they can take instead,” the official told Minivan News.

According to WHO, healthy individuals infected with TB are not often affected by any symptoms as the person’s immune system acts to “wall off” the bacteria.

The organisation states that symptoms of active TB are coughing, sometimes with blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.

The WHO Representative to the Maldives, Dr Akjemal Magtymova, Health Minister Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed and the Health Ministry were not responding to calls at time of press.


Funding and “public hesitancy” key challenges for continuing successful immunisation program

Some 95 percent of the target population of the Maldives’ national inoculation program have received their recommended vaccinations, despite declining state funding for such initiatives and growing public reticence, health authorities have said.

While ongoing commitments by Maldives authorities to protect the public against preventable diseases were praised this month by international experts, sources within the Ministry of Health have said maintaining high immunisation coverage across the country remains challenging.

Aishath Thimna Latheef, Public Health Program Manager for the Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI) at the Ministry of Health told Minivan News that a lack of funding for additional training and supervision were among crucial challenges facing national inoculation efforts.

Other issues included a growing number of parents opting against having their children inoculated, and need for improved coordination with private schools.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reviewed the Maldives EPI and vaccine preventable disease (VPD) surveillance programs between January 27 and February 3 this year, and praised the country’s efforts.

Representatives from the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, the Centre for Communicable Diseases, Atlanta (CDC) and experts from Indonesia, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka conducted the review, according to the WHO.

“The government is ensuring immunisation against 10 vaccine preventable diseases. Furthermore, steps are being undertaken for the introduction of pentavalent vaccines into routine immunisation schedules,” said the WHO.

“The team verified that more than 95 percent of the target population have received all the recommended vaccines and immunisation service delivery functions, including vaccine distribution and cold chain management. Effective partnership with the government, WHO, UNICEF and other stakeholders have contributed to these achievements.”

The review was the first study of its kind to be conducted in the country since 2006, following previous research carried out in 1994 and 1988.

“Basic right”

Immunisation Program Manager Thimna maintained that immunisation was a “basic right” of Maldives children under successive governments.

“The government regards children as one of the most important assets of the nation and therefore every effort should be made without discrimination of person’s gender and socio-economic status to promote welfare and full development of their potential for a useful and quality of life,” she said.

“This policy has not changed. Immunisation in the Maldives is 100-percent government funded. But over the years the funds for immunisation have gradually declined, limited now to only the purchase of vaccines and vaccine consumables. Training, supportive supervision and IEC developments are not funded any more. From a programmatic perspective, this is a serious concern for us.”

According to Thimna, the reduced funding was a direct result of economic difficulties experienced in recent years that had resulted in continued calls to cut state expenditure both from within parliament and by international organisations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Beyond financial challenges, authorities indicated that education was another area needing review in order to ensure that all children and young people were being included in national inoculation plans.

According to Thimna, in 1994 the government introduced a policy whereby each schoolchild studying at a public institution was included in a state immunisation program.

However, she contended that with a growing number of public schools in the country, some of these institutions were not following state policies such as the inoculation program.

Without greater collaboration between the state and private education providers, Thimna claimed that a growing number of young people faced being excluded from the national immunisation program if fewer schools signed up.

Anther potential concern identified by authorities was a small but growing number of parents who were opting not to have their children immunised, for unspecified reasons.

Thimna said while only a small number of children were not receiving inoculations recommended by the state as a result of “vaccine hesitancy” among parents, the issue was growing and could potentially become a “huge concern” for authorities in the future if not addressed.

However, she stressed that recent amendments to national legislation did grant health authorities power under the law to give vaccinations to children – even if parents refused – on the grounds of public health.

“The most recent change is the passing of Public Health Act in December 17, 2012. This has given some power to the program to address issues of vaccine hesitancy. But this will only be in action after the rules and regulations and  developed and  incorporated and a new immunisation policy is developed,” Thimna added.

Polio prevention

Addressing the potential risk of a re-emergence  of the polio virus, Thimna said the country was always at risk of importation of such threats.  According to official statistics, the last reported indigenous case of the virus in the Maldives was 1982, however the last imported case of the polio virus was in 1994.

“As a tourist destination, the Maldives is always at risk of importation like any other country in the world. We need to have stringent active and passive Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance to detect and investigate any case of suspected polio. This is something which we already do but needs to be strengthened,” Thimna said.

“The only thing that would perhaps work in our favour if  an importation occurs is the high level of  hygiene and sanitation in the Maldives.”

In an open editorial piece last month, Regional Director for the WHO in the South-East Asia region, Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, stressed a need for vigilance to eradicate the virus from the region.

With India having recorded a second consecutive year without a reported case of polio virus, Dr Plianbangchang called for sustained efforts to combat potential spreads of the disease, particularly across international borders.

“Although not all countries face the same risk, most countries in the region remain at a risk of polio resurgence through a distant or cross border importation of the wild polio virus from countries where it continues to circulate,” he wrote.

“As India completes two years without any cases of wild polio virus, WHO’s South-East Asia Region is firmly on-track for polio-free certification in early 2014. The South-East Asia Region will be the fourth WHO Region to be certified as polio free, the first Region in more than 12 years after the European Region was certified in 2002.”


Five month-old foetus correctly pronounced dead: IGMH

Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) has said that a five month foetus born prematurely yesterday (January 1) was correctly pronounced deceased before being sent to a cemetery in Male’ for burial.

Local media reported yesterday that the foetus had been incorrectly diagnosed as deceased by staff at the state-run hospital after showing signs of life at the cemetery.

A spokesperson for IGMH today claimed that the foetus, which was born severely malformed, was believed to have been mistaken as alive by cemetery workers after a “reflex” action gave the impression of signs of life.

Relatives of the mother had expressed concerns about their treatment and how they felt IGMH had dealt with the matter, the hospital spokesperson confirmed.

The Ministry of Health has meanwhile announced it would be reviewing policies at state-run hospitals in the Maldives and their handling of such situations as details of the case emerged today.

The parents of the foetus were also shown to have shown concern about their treatment by the hospital, accusing staff of negligence. The matter was said to have been reported to police, according to the Sun Online news agency.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef was not responding to calls at the time of press concerning the matter.

The IGMH spokesperson told Minivan News this evening that the foetus, which has been born under inducement from drugs, had a severe malformation where the walls of its skull had not been developed fully.

Staff at the hospital claimed that for the mother’s safety, doctors had decided to induce labour with drugs on the basis that the severity of the condition would have given the foetus a very limited chance of survival as well as severe brain damage.

A spokesperson for IGMH confirmed that after the foetus had been returned from the cemetery, staff did not find a pulse or heartbeat. No treatment could be offered, the hospital source claimed.


Minister of Health Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed confirmed to Minivan News today that he had initiated an inquiry into the incident, which would then be used to enact any potential recommendations or action needed to be taken by hospital staff in future.

Dr Jamsheed said he was not able to discuss the nature of some of these changes before a review had been completed.

“The changes would depend on the findings and recommendations. The issue would be looked at jointly by the Ministry of Health and IGMH,” he said. “The policy decisions and regulatory measures would be common to all state hospitals, but would also depend on the level of hospital and respective services provided.