A delegation from the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has concluded a visit to the Maldives after signing a US$8.4 million (MVR 129million) loan agreement to finance the Hithadhoo Regional Hospital Project in Addu Atoll.
OFID Director-General Suleiman J. Al-Herbish met with President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan to discuss the fund’s current operations in the Maldives as well as further avenues for cooperation.
Suleiman said the new hospital would deliver a wide range of specialized and emergency medical services, benefiting around 76,000 people.
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health Geela Ali said that the work on the 100-bed facility would upgrade the level of healthcare in the atoll to tertiary level.
Currently, this advanced level of healthcare is only provided in Male’s two hospitals – the privately operated ADK hospital and the state-run Indira Ghandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).
Other than this, Maldivians can receive secondary of care in the country’s six regional hospitals. This includes Raa Atoll regional hospital which the ministry intends to begin renovating.
“This will be a huge project. We are currently seeking government funding for this,” explained Geela.
OFID is a finance institution established by the group of petroleum exporting states to channel aid to less-developed nations.
Previous loan support from the fund was given to upgrade Male’ international airport in 1999, and again in 2005 to extend Wataniya’s telecoms coverage.
A press release from the fund described the fund’s 35 year relationship with the Maldives during which time is has co-financed projects to strengthen the country’s agriculture, education, transportation a sanitation sectors.
“Under its Trade Finance Facility, OFID has participated under the International Islamic Finance Corporation’s syndication of US$25 million to assist the State Trading Organization, Maldives, in importing refined petroleum products. In addition, grant funding has provided emergency aid for tsunami victims and supported healthcare programs,” read the statement.
As the OFID visit concluded, a high level Chinese delegation arrived as part of a three nation tour which will also take in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The delegation is headed by Li Changchun who is China’s fifth highest-ranking leader and has been on the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee since 2002.
Chinese state media reported Li as lauding the exemplary nature of the Sino-Maldives relationship as a model for ties between larger and smaller nations.
“The development of relations between China and the Maldivians serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples as well as maintaining the regional peace, stability and prosperity,” Xinhua reported Li as saying upon his arrival at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).
Li has since met with President Waheed who thanked him for China’s continuing assistance with the Maldives’ development, whilst welcoming Chinese investors to explore opportunities in the country.
Waheed expressed similar sentiment when paying his first official state visit to China last month during which he finalised a deal for US$500 million in aid, with promises for further assistance in the future.
The President’s Office website has confirmed that the Ministry of Housing has exchanged letters agreeing to a feasibility study for developing a road in the Laamu Atoll Gan to Fonadhoo stretch of islands.
A memorandum of understanding was also signed between the Chinese Ambassador Yu Hongyao and the Ministry of Environment and Energy concerning the provision of goods for addressing climate change.
Chinese relationships with the Maldives was established 40 years ago but has expanded rapidly over the past decade.
China leapfrogged the United Kingdom in 2010 to become the number one source of arrivals for the country’s travel industry.
China opened an embassy in Male’ in time for the opening of the SAARC summit last November, reciprocating the opening of a Maldivian mission in Beijing in 2007.