Hospital charges to remain stable despite Apollo deal, pledges health ministry

The ministry of health has pledged that hospital charges will remain stable at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), even though it is to managed by private company Apollo Hospital Group.

Health Minister Dr Aminath Jameel said the hospital remained a state asset “and we have only handed the management of the hospital over to Apollo.”

The minister also said that IGMH would be turned into a teaching hospital, which would provide training for nurses and paramedics in line with the government’s aim of ensuring at least 80 per cent of hospital staff are Maldivian within 15 years. Currently 60 per cent of the hospital’s nursing staff are foreign.

The health ministry acknowledged that IGMH was not at the standard that a tertiary hospital should be.

“Even though it’s hard to accept, we don’t have the capacity within the country to bring the hospital up to standard. We needed help from a foreign party,” Jameel said.

A situational analysis of the hospital will be conducted in the first three months of new management, after which a work plan will be submitted to the government.”

“We want the hospital to have a good management team to oversee the daily management of services,” Jameel said.

She also offered reassurances that Maldivian jobs would not be lost as part of this deal, and that the agreement was within the Maldivian employment act.

The current ratio at IGMH is three foreign staff for every Maldivian, a statistic Jameel said the ministry hoped to reverse.

Where’s the money?

The ministry paints the deal as very good for the Maldives on paper. But what does Apollo stand to gain?

Zubair Mohamed, CEO of IGMH said the deal with Apollo “wasn’t done to make a profit, but to provide good health care.”

Asked if how Apollo would be able to make a return on their US$20 million investment in the dilapidated Male’ hospital, Zubair said money “was a combined investment made by Apollo, the Indian government and the Maldives – not to be recovered, but to motivate the hospital.”

The benefits would be quickly realised, he said, “and after the first five years, IGMH will have the capacity to train doctors on the job as general practitioners.”

Zubair also said that having a high standard of hospital would open up possibilities for medical tourism, a lucrative sub-sector of the tourism industry in countries like Thailand.

“Having a good hospital means doors are opened for things like wellness tourism and palative care. Even tourists can comfortably have a medical check-up,” Zubair said.