Orthopedic surgeries halted as IGMH fails to provide protective gowns

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Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) has “temporarily delayed” some orthopedic surgeries after State Trading Organisation (STO) failed to supply lead gowns for medical staff, Deputy CEO Dr Mohamed Habeeb has said today.

He said the only surgeries affected by this would be those that require real-time X-ray monitoring, and that the hospital was expecting to receive the gowns very soon.

The lead gowns, like most other medical supplies for the hospital, are purchased through the STO, said Habeeb. The STO is a public company, with more than ninety two percent shares owned by the government.

“We have ordered replacements even last year. We might get them even by tonight. STO is working on it right now,” said Habeeb.

The purpose of lead gowns is to prevent the unnecessary and frequent exposure of medical staff to radiation which can cause cancer, infertility, and birth defects. While an estimated minimum of ten gowns are usually required for a surgery, the hospital currently has only two fit for use.

An IGMH nurse who often has to assist such surgeries told Minivan News that it has now been more than two years since they started requesting for new gowns. Letters have been written informing all relevant authorities of the situation, she added.

Orthopedic surgeries are done three days a week at the hospital, she explained, and on some days more than six of these surgeries require lead gowns.

“They [the remaining usable gowns] are usually taken by the doctors, saying they are closer to the source. Some staff have panicked after finding out they are pregnant. That risk is always there. And we are concerned about the patients as well. I have never seen any patient being offered a gown here,” she continued.

She stated that when patients need urgent attention, nurses cannot ignore and refuse to attend them even with the risks. Following a decision made by the department today, they will not be attending such surgeries until gowns are provided for them.

Head of the IGMH Orthopedic Department Dr Yoosuf Shan has told ‘Haveeru‘ that a memo highlighting the department’s decision has been sent to the heads of IGMH and the Health Minister.

“Radiation exposure could cause cancer. Most nurses assisting the surgeries are women. Without lead gowns their children could be born with birth defects. So as a precautionary measure we were forced to stop some of surgeries. They will continue only after we received lead gown,” Dr Shan was quoted as saying.

IGMH could not identify the exact reason for the delay in acquiring the gowns and the STO was unable to put Minivan News in touch with the relevant person.

Last November STO stopped supplying medicine to IGMH after it reached a set credit limit. At the time STO managing director Shahid Ali told local media that the Hospital had to pay approximately MVR 200 million to the organisation.

STO later resumed supples after raising the credit limit by MVR5 million in addition to the MVR411 million credit limit which includes payments going back to 2011.

Following the failure of other state owned company’s to pay almost US$40 million in bills owed to the STO, President Abdulla Yameen declared the organisation bankrupt last November. The company subsequently launched a campaign to cut operational costs by MVR50 million in 2014 (US$ 3,242,542).


Five hospitalised after fire destroys 16 water villas at Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi resort

Five people have been hospitalised with minor injuries after a fire destroyed 16 water villas at the Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi resort in North Male’ atoll this morning, local authorities have confirmed.

A police media official confirmed one Brazilian and three Chinese tourists had been taken to Male’ for treatment for injuries sustained during the resort blaze.  One Maldivian member of staff was taken to hospital on the island of Thulusdhoo, police said.

The media official confirmed that a special police investigation team including forensic officers were today assessing damage at the resort, though no further details were given on the possible cause of the blaze at time of press.

Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Spokesperson Major Hussain Ali said fire fighters were informed of the blaze at 4:40am today.

Major Hussain said the fire was brought under control a few hours later at 6:50am, with the MNDF expected to provide technical assistance to police officers investigating the blaze. He said a total of 17 rooms were severely damaged.

Resort open

Mohamed Mahdy, General Manager of Administration for Adaaran, said the Hudhuranfushi Select resort remained open to guests, with its beach villas and other properties unaffected by the fire.

The spokesperson added that an investigation into the incident was already underway for insurance purposes.

Upon discovery of the fire, Mahdy said staff realised they did not have the capacity to deal with the blaze and called in MNDF firefighters.

Subsequent to publication, Mahdy clarified that the resort had three water pumps on site, and that staff had brought the fire under control as MNDF firefighters arrived.

He added that the design of the water villas, particularly roofs covered in thatched material, had meant the fire spread quickly, but efforts were still successful in preventing further spread to other areas on the resort.

Promotional image of resort's water villas

Fire safety

Mahdy said the company continued to operate its properties in full compliance with local regulations and would not be reviewing fire safety on the site.

Mahdy confirmed that resort’s water villas were not fitted with smoke alarms, explaining that the properties were “very different to city hotels”.

However, he said staff had woken up and evacuated all guests once the fire was discovered.

He said Adaaran had contracted local authorities to undertake fire safety training with staff at the resort.

Water villas – stilted structures that sit above the sea – have become synonymous with high-end resort properties in the Maldives and are offered as premium category accommodation by both local and multi-national hospitality groups in the country.

Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi is the second of the country’s more than 100 exclusive island resort properties to have experienced a fire over the last three days, with local media reporting that five people had been hospitalised with minor injuries following a blaze at the Robinson Club resort in Gaafu Alifu Atoll.

Sun Online reported Friday (July 19) that three Maldivians and two foreigners were injured by an explosion that occurred in a staff store area on the property.

Four of those injured by the fire were reportedly admitted to hospital with burns on different parts of their body.

MNDF officials meanwhile speculated that the fire was likely the result of an electrical malfunction, according to Sun.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb could not be reached for comment at time of press.

Clarification: General Manager of Administration for the Adaaran resort, Mohamed Mahdy, subsequent to publication of this article informed Minivan News that the resort had three water pumps on site, and that staff had brought the fire under control as MNDF firefighters arrived.


Police confirm fourth stabbing incident in Male’ within 48 hours

The Maldives Police Service has confirmed that a man has been stabbed by a sharp object in Male’ this evening, the fourth such attack to have occurred during the last 48 hours.

However, authorities have said it remains too early to tell if the incidents may be linked.

A police spokesperson confirmed to Minivan News today that a male had been taken to ADK Hospital on Sosun Magu for treatment following the stabbing attack, but did not have further details on the victim or his condition at time of press.

According to local media, the victim was alleged to have been attacked with a “sharp object” by a group of attackers at about 6:20pm this evening.

Sun Online has reported that the victim fled into an electronics store in Male’, where he tried to shelter from his attackers. The attack was reported to have occurred in the store.

Police have said investigations are continuing, though no suspects had so far been identified in regards to today’s attack.

The attack marks the fourth stabbing incident to occur in Male’ within 48 hours, resulting a total of five people injured as police continue to search for suspects.

Two young men, 18 and 21 years-old, were stabbed near Azmi-Naeem Medical & Diagnostic Centre (AMDC) in Male’s Maafanu neighborhood at approximately 3:30pm yesterday (May 18) afternoon, a police media official told Minivan News at the time.

Meanwhile, two young men were also injured in separate stabbing incidents in Male’ on Friday (May 17).

The first stabbing took place near Star Cinema in Male’s Maafanu neighbourhood and was reported to police around 6:30pm. The 20 year-old victim suffered stab wounds to his chest and back, according to local media.

The second attack was reported to police at 7:00pm and occurred near Petrel cafe in Male’s Machangolhi neighbourhood. The victim, also a 20 year-old man, was stabbed in the back.

Since the start of 2013, 506 incidents of assault have been reported to police, with 51 cases having occurred so far this May.


Teased, touched and assaulted: foreign women facing harassment

Walking down a crowded street two weeks ago in the Maldives capital of Male’, Lisa*, 25, had one of the most horrific experiences of her life.

Teased, touched and assaulted by two young men on the street, the Australian foreign worker was left deeply upset and stunned over the harassment that occurred in broad daylight.

“I was walking near the swim track when these two boys in their 20s came behind me and grabbed my ass. I screamed and they walked away. I kept walking forward and then suddenly saw the two boys approaching me again. I was really scared because I did not know what they were going to do next,” Lisa recalled.

“They came back, surrounded me and started to pass comments at me. They touched me inappropriately, grabbed me and one of them slapped me,” she continued. It lasted for about 20 seconds I think. I took my phone and warned them I was calling the police. Then they grabbed me once more and just ran off.”

She had travelled from Australia to work in the Maldives just a few months before the incident, and had not expected to face harassment or attack, she said.

In the last few weeks foreign women from diverse nationalities working in Maldives have come forward and told Minivan News about various attacks, ranging from verbal abuse to physical and sometimes sexual assaults.

Clarice*, a 23-year-old French woman, was teased and stalked on the street while she was walking home on March 1.

“I was walking past the artificial beach around 12:30pm in the afternoon. A group of four local boys, maybe in their 20s, started following me. They passed comments like ‘you are my angel’ and one of them grabbed my arm and said ‘oh your skin is so beautiful’. I really did not understand what they wanted and I was really scared because they kept following me,” Clarice explained.

“Because they were following me I went back to the office, instead of going home. I live alone so I was did not want them to find out where I live,” she added.

Clarice decided not to inform police because it was mostly verbal abuse, she said.

Unsafe at home

Meanwhile, several other women interviewed exclaimed that the “threats have extended from streets to homes”.

Katie*, a 34-year old American who has worked in Male’ for almost a year, said she thought she had figured out the Maldives, its culture and its people. Respecting the Muslim background, she said she was sensitive to societal rules, dressed modestly and until recently, thought of Maldives as a safe place.

What changed her impression was a horrific incident last month which a local man sexually assaulted her while she she was unlocking the door of her apartment.

“It was early morning around 4:00am. I was unlocking the door to my house when I felt someone grab my neck from behind. At first I thought it was my friends who had left just seconds ago. But the grip was very firm so I turned around and saw a man wearing white shirt and pants. I screamed at the top of my voice,” Katie recalled.

“He grabbed my breasts, ripped the t-shirt I was wearing. I tried to hit him with my hands, screamed and tried to escape. At that time the door was unlocked and he had pushed me inside. I managed to hit his groin with my feet. That’s when he let go of me and ran out. I tried to follow him but he fled on a motorbike too quickly,” she said. “I was so distraught, I could not even call the police.”

Neighbors who heard her screams called the police. Around five to six officers arrived on the scene with a forensic team.

Disappointed with police

However, according to Katie, the police did not take her statement until three weeks later and then got the details of the attack completely wrong.

“The police had stated my necklace was stolen. It broke off during the attack, I still have it. The attacker must have known the necklace I was wearing was not gold because it was made of multi-colored beads,” Katie pointed out.

She added that she had later found out from CCTV camera owners nearby her house that the police had not requested the footage or interviewed neighbors for clues. Frustrated over the lack of police assistance, she called the US embassy. “I don’t think they would have even taken the statement if the American Embassy had not called them,” Katie claimed.

Lucy, a 36 Irish woman, also talked to Minivan New about an attack, and a disappointing experience with the police, following a robbery and sexual assault she encountered last year.

She was attacked while walking up the flat’s staircase with two other female friends around midnight.

“The apartment was on the sixth floor and I was walking upstairs to my friends apartment. They were couple of steps ahead of me and I was walking up when, suddenly, a man came behind me and grabbed my breasts and tried to pull my clothes,” Lucy recollected.

“I go to the gym and I lift weights. But I couldn’t get him off. He was quite a large and it seemed he was under the influence of something. I hit him with my bag several times. He did not attempt to grab it and run. I think his intention was to pull off my clothes. By then my friends had heard the screams and came running downstairs. That’s when he released me and ran off,” she added.

Lucy however noted that the attack had not affected her as much as when she was robbed just weeks before the attack, and found the robbery to be the “worst ordeal”.

“My laptops and phone was stolen from my apartment. That was the worst ordeal because somebody broke into my room while I was sleeping,” she observed.

Thanks to her strong personality, Lucy said she managed to get over both attacks and visit Maldives again this year. However, she echoed others’ grievances over the lack of support from police.

“When police came to the flat the only response I got from them was ‘this never happens’. They did not take my statement or follow up on me. I don’t think the case was investigated,” she claimed.

Lisa, who earlier spoke to Minivan News, also complained over the lack of police professionalism after she reported the harassment on the street and added that it seemed “police did not the case seriously”.

Police Spokesperson Sub-inspector Hassan Haneef responded that police investigate all the complaints and officers who investigate foreigners cases are skilled and capable in communicating in English: “But we do face difficulties in communicating with Bangladeshi expatriates,” he said.

He noted that it was difficult to state whether harassment of foreign women was on the rise, but confirmed that such cases had been reported.

Haneef also urged women to report such attacks, assuring that complete investigations would be conducted.

Lisa, Clarice, Katie and Lucy say they are awaiting justice and for a day they can walk the streets without being teased, touched or assaulted. A day when they don’t have to be extra cautious on streets, scan around for possible stalkers or triple check their locks.

In the meantime all they ask from the local community is “not to assume we provoked the attacks and step in to help a woman being harassed”.

*Names changed


Aircraft collision not a major incident, says Civil Aviation Department

A collision that occurred yesterday between a Maldivian Air Taxi seaplane and another aircraft at Male’ International Airport resulted in no injuries or major damage, the country’s Civil Aviation Department has said, claiming it has no concerns over the safety of the aircraft.

Hussein Jaleel, Deputy Director General for the Civil Aviation Department that oversees airline regulation, said it had been made aware of a collision yesterday, which it downplayed as a minor accident involving the wingtip of an aircraft colliding with another aircraft that was not seen as “a major safety concern.”

“There was a collision yesterday involving a Maldivian Air Taxi aircraft, but it was actually not a serious incident,” Jaleel said. “No person was injured and no damage was recorded to the aircraft that could affect flight operations.”

Local newspaper Haveeru reported that the seaplane collided with the wing of an aircraft taking-off from Hulhule, at 6:30am while it was approaching the water runway.

The official, however, said the number of passengers and the cause of the accident could not be identified yet, as a full report has not been filed so far.

“We receive urgent reports only if it is a serious accident. So it will take some time to receive reports of minor accidents,” the official said.

MAT Ground Operations Manager, Inthikaab Ahmed said he was not aware of any accidents.

A spokesperson for airline operator Maldivian Air Taxi told Minivan News that there had not been any reports of an accident or minor collision in the company’s fleet, a track record they claimed has not changed for some time.

When asked about the Civil Aviation Department claims, the company spokesperson said its management had not been informed of any incidents with its vehicles and it had no idea where the information had came from.

“We [Maldivian Air Taxi] have had no accidents in the last few years, maybe even longer,” said the spokesperson. “There have not been any collisions.”

Regardless of whether the accident reported was a serious or a minor collision, Jaleel said Civil Aviation Department regulations required an investigation into any accident. However he added that “no further reports would be required” in relation to yesterday’s incident.

“We have no issues that the accident was the result of negligence, though if we ever have any serious concerns relating to safety issues then we would of course take action,” he added.

The Civil Aviation Department claimed it therefore remained confident of the effectiveness of safety measures employed by seaplane operators in the Maldives.