President Waheed abolishes Maldives Volunteer Corps

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has abolished the Maldives Volunteers Corps (MVC) and its work has been reassigned to the Ministry of Human Resources, Youth and Sports.

“The Maldives Volunteers Corps was abolished because a number of its functions are performed by the Ministry of Human Resources, Youth and Sports,” the President’s Office said in a statement.

The Ministry is now overseen by Mohamed ‘Mundhu’ Shareef, spokesperson for former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The Maldives Volunteer Corps was established in 2009 under the Ministry of Human Resources, to increase the participation of youth volunteers in various national and regional level social and economic programs.

Its international branch, the International Volunteers Programme (IVP), places international volunteers in positions within the health and education sectors in the country and was established in partnership with the Salisbury-based Friends of Maldives (FOM) NGO, and coordinated by the Maldives High Commission in London.

FOM recently announced a travel advisory concerning four resorts whose owners it alleged were involved in the ousting of the Maldives’ first democratically-elected President.

“Since the first free and fair presidential elections in the Maldives in October 2008, FOM has worked on promoting social issues and other development programs, primarily in Health and Education Sectors, with the International Volunteer Programme (IVP), the Maldives Volunteer Corps (MVC) and the Maldives High Commission (London),’ FOM said in a statement on its website.

“This activity has been jeopardised due to the violent removal of the democratically-elected government on February 7, 2012. Where health workers and teachers are able to stay, without danger to their safety, they will continue to work to benefit the Maldivian people.

“Unfortunately, this situation is becoming increasingly fragile as Maldivian people have been beaten, hospitalised and imprisoned across the country, and FOM’s focus is required to revert to protecting human rights and promoting social justice until safety and democracy is restored.”

There are 28 volunteers with the IVP program based across the Maldives for the current academic year.

MVC was the program’s local counterpart with the role of taking care of the volunteers, provide their induction and orientation, and liaise with the Ministry of Education throughout the academic cycle, explained former head of MVC, Mariyam Seena.

“The IVP was designed to meet the shortfall of skilled personnel in the academic sector and if the program is shut down, then it will be the children and the schools that will suffer,” she said.

“The schools that have IVP volunteers rely on them a lot – not only with teaching the students but running English programs for the local teachers as well.

“In late 2010 MVC received close to 100 requests for volunteers from schools all over the country which shows the urgent need for British volunteers.The program is into the third year and beginning to make a huge impact on the education system, so shutting it down would be a huge injustice for Maldivian students from the islands,” she concluded.

In an email to the IVP volunteers currently working in the Maldives, FOM founder David Hardingham advised them to register with the British High Commission in Colombo, “and please leave the country if you feel you are in any danger at all.”

“Friends of Maldives are now no longer official stakeholders in the program and following the events in Male and now in Addu, we are now resorting back to our former role as a human rights NGO,” he said.

Volunteers choosing to stay were advised to “follow their instincts”, “steer clear of gatherings”, and “don’t express an interest in one side or the other.”

“Things are unlikely to improve, at least in the short term,” Hardingham wrote. “The military coup and the subsequent crackdown on the huge Male demonstration has caused a lot of concern amongst progressive Maldivians who remember the heavy-handed former dictatorship. There is a lot of pain and anger out there and if demands are not met for elections then things could spiral for the worse.”

The Maldives Volunteer Corps was inaugurated in 2009 by Dr Waheed and then-President Mohamed Nasheed.

In a statement following the inauguration, Dr Waheed “noted the importance given by the President in establishing the Volunteers Corps.”

“Further, he said that Maldivians, in all walks of life, have been known for their helpfulness and kindness to each other. Speaking in this regard, the Vice President said that purpose of the Maldives Volunteers Corps included strengthening the spirit of cooperation and solidarity among the people and to increase interest in voluntary services.”


UK medical experts to help manage IGMH

The Malé Health Services Corporation (MHSC) is expanding its senior management team with three health professionals from the UK, who have been recruited to support the health transformation agenda of the MHSC, accelerate quality improvements, and rigorously hone cost efficiency.

The volunteers were recruited with the assistance of UK-based NGO Friends of Maldives and the Maldivian High Commission in London who together,have selectively been placing health volunteers around the Maldives through the International Volunteer Programme (IVP).

The three volunteers will initially come for one year, extendable to two years, and say they hope to leave a lasting, positive legacy within the MHSC, by developing local leaders in the medical sector.

Cathy Waters will start as the new General Manager of IGMH at the beginning of February 2011. Waters has 17 years of senior health management experience, including eight years as a Chief Executive in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), where she demonstrated exemplary management of staff, personnel issues and substantial budgets in the face of major financial challenges.

Waters has also worked effectively as a senior management consultant, achieving organisational change and strategic development targets. Amongst her many qualifications, she has two Masters Degrees (one in Business Administration), an Advanced Diploma in Coaching, a teaching certificate in further education and is a qualified nurse, midwife and health visitor.

Waters says she believes wholeheartedly in involving the public and service users in providing better health care, and in coaching and developing individual health professionals into new and sustainable roles.

Liz Ambler will begin in the role of Nursing Director for MHSC in mid-March. She currently works for the UK’s Department of Health, whilst her specialist clinical background is in blood disorders and cancer care. With significant senior management experience in UK, the Middle East and Africa, she has a proven track record of improving health care quality whilst reducing expenditure.

Ambler has a Nursing Degree, a Masters in Public Health and a postgraduate certificate in Global Development Management, and says she “can’t wait to get stuck in” training, auditing, and developing clinical guidelines with MHSC’s nurses.

Liz is passionate about nursing, improving patient safety and motivating others to achieve good governance.

Rob Primhak has been appointed as Medical Director of MHSC and will make an initial visit mid-February 2011, before starting in earnest in July when he retires early from his Consultant Paediatrician post to take up this new and challenging role.

Primhak has 35 years of clinical and research expertise, primarily in the fields of respiratory medicine and treatment of children and newborn babies, both in UK and Papua New Guinea. He has successfully introduced innovative services and demonstrated a life-long commitment to the education and training of doctors, through the establishment of new curricula and training programmes. He aspires to leave a lasting impression on clinical governance at MHSC through development of health professionals and clinical quality standards.

“We look forward to working with the UK experts in revamping health care quality at MHSC, and are very optimistic about their successful team efforts in turning around IGMH”, said Mr Zubair Muhammad, Managing Director of MHSC.

Lucy Johnson is the Health Lead for UK-based NGO, Friends of Maldives.


Volunteer teachers inducted into island living

Volunteer teachers recruited under the International Volunteer Programme (IVP) for 2011 have arrived in the Maldives and been inducted into the island lifestyle they will live for the next year.

The 13 volunteer teachers were recruited by the High Commission of the Maldives in the UK, the Maldives Volunteer Corps and UK-based NGO Friends of Maldives.

During the induction programme the teachers were briefed on the Maldives and the country’s health and culture, as well as given an introduction to Islam. A two-day island visit to Dhiffushi in Kaafu Atoll was arranged to familiarise the volunteers with life in the Maldives.

The volunteers were also given an orientation session at the Ministry of Education, where they met Minister Shifa Mohamed and learned about the education system in the Maldives.

Volunteers were also provided with a handbook which including a code of conduct and procedures to follow during their placement in the Maldives.

The education volunteers are based in Haa Dhaal Kulhudhuffushi, Haa Alif Ihavandhoo, Haa Alif Dhidhoo, Laamu Gan, Gaaf Alif Maamendhoo, Raa Dhuvaafaru and Kaafu Villingili.


President meets with founders of Mission Maldives

President Mohamed Nasheed met with the founders of Mission Maldives yesterday afternoon.

Mission Maldives is a voluntary organisation created by three British nationals. Its stated aim is to make voluntary programs in the Maldives more easily available and affordable.

Mission Maldives’ aim is to bring volunteers in the most needed areas, which are those currently lacking in suitable skilled and educated staff.

According to President Nasheed, the government has priority toward promoting greater involvement and contribution of volunteers in the socio-economic and political development of the country.

The organisation already has begun a number of programs with schools in the Maldives.