Maldives Medical Insurance
Hidden within the Indian Ocean, the Republic of Maldives is made up of an elongated cluster of small islands and 26 naturally occurring atolls. The atolls, coral islands that circle reef like lagoons, are divided into 20 administrative regions. The Maldives has a population of around 370,000 people. Of the 1,192 coral islands that make up the country, only 200 islands are inhabited. A third of the Maldive population lives in the capital city and administrative region of Male. With around 70 of the islands having fewer than 500 people living in it, the Maldives has a largely dispersed population.
The Maldives have experienced environmental challenges such as the December 2004 Tsunami, as well as are the current threat of rising sea levels due to global warming. With islands that rarely reach a height of more than 2 metres, the Maldives' coastlines are in danger.
Tourism is the largest industry in the Maldives. Bringing in 28 percent of the country's GDP, the country sets asides 88 islands to exclusively accommodate holiday resorts. Other large industries include fisheries and shipping trade.
With a relatively small and largely dispersed population, the country has experienced many challenges in its healthcare system. There are a lack of human resources and funds in the country to meet the ever-increasing costs of healthcare facilities. In turn, access to healthcare facilities across the Maldives have been poor, although the situation is likely to improve in the future.
Hospitals and medical facilities are very limited in the Maldives. Within the entire country, there are only two hospitals, located in the capital city of Male. There are smaller medical clinics across the islands, as well as in-house doctors within some holiday resorts, although these facilities are very basic and limited. A decompression chamber is within reach of most holiday resort islands, in the case of a diving emergency.
In the event of a serious illness or medical condition, emergency evacuation to Male will be required. Healthcare facilities are limited within the two hopsitals in Male and therefore evacuation may be required to hospitals located overseas in Sri Lanka or India where the adequate level of medical care can be received. Expats living in the Maldives can contact East West Rescue for air transportation or repatriation services. The costs involved in covering hospital care, as well as emergency evacuation to India or Sri Lanka are highly expensive and can add up to over USD$100,000, depending on circumstances. As such, expats in the Maldives are strongly encouraged to obtain some form of Maldives medical insurance, that includes air transportation services.
The two hospitals located in the capital city of Male - the ADK Hospital and the Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), both offer adequate healthcare and emergency stabilizing services. The ADK Hospital is well equipped with modern medical equipment and experienced healthcare staff, offering the highest standard of medical services in the country. The ADK Hospital offers emergency care, general surgery, paediatrics, orthopedics, urology, as well as other specialist service departments. Expats opt for care at the ADK hospital, due to the higher standard of medical care and to avoid long waiting lists. Private healthcare services are generally very expensive, due to this expats living in the Maldives are strongly encouraged to obtain a Maldives international medical insurance policy, to ensure ease of access to health and medical facilities within the country.
The Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) is the largest hospital in the country. Built in 1990, the IGMH was given to the Maldives as a gift from the Indian Government, due to the urgent need for hospital services in the country. Today, the IGMH is serviced through the Maldivian Government, offering emergency and diagnostic care, as well services in pediatrics, orthopedics, gynecology, and general surgery. The IGMH also offers specialist departments in cardiology, urology and intestinal infections. Patients generally endure long waiting lists to see a doctor, as such it is recommended expats attend the ADK Hospital if they require prompt treatment.
The Maldives are in the middle of a transition in its healthcare system. Under the Ministry of Health and Family, healthcare initiatives in the Maldives have focused on health promotion and good quality, affordable access to healthcare. The Ministry of Health and Family aim to improve the protection rights of women and children, among their initiatives include the Maldives Children's Help Line. Additional preventive health services are provided by the Centre for Community Health and Disease Control (CCHDC). The Maldives Government has focused on decentralization as well as building more healthcare clinics across the islands.
Affordable access to healthcare has been implemented through the development of a new social health insurance system called 'Madhana', introduced in September 2009. Members of the scheme pay an annual fee of Rf.$2000, or $USD160, which is subsidized up to 50 percent by the Government depending on financial circumstances. To improve access to health, it services members by providing affordable healthcare of up to Rf.$100,000, or USD$7,820 annually per member. The scheme also covers dependents of the member, including spouse, children as well as parents. The Madhana Plus scheme was introduced later in 2009, providing coverage to healthcare services overseas in India, Sri Lanka, and Waheed, incurring an additional annual fee of Rf.1500.
Due to the subtropical climate and wet seasons in the Maldives, the country endures outbreaks of vector borne diseases including Dengue Fever and Chikungunya. Both are transmitted by infected mosquitoes resulting in flue like symptoms. Some cases can become severe and lead to shock, and can be fatal if left untreated. Outbreaks of dengue fever have been reported in the Maldives. In 2010, 473 cases were reported in the first half of the year. Expats living in Maldives should exercise caution, particularly during wet season from May to October. Due to unsafe drinking water, expats should drink bottled water to avoid transmission of bacterial infections, causing diarrhea. Otherwise, sterilization can be achieved through boiling water or using chlorination tablets. Immediate medical attention is therefore required to treat symptoms of these serious conditions and to prevent further deterioration.
In terms of street safety, the general security with the Maldives has risen in recent years due to the increased threat of terrorism and political unrest within the country. Although terrorist events have been rare to non existent in the Maldives, a bomb explosion occurred in Male in September 2007, injuring twelve foreign tourists. Expats living in the Maldives should exercise caution, particularly during public events and political protests in the city of Male, as they may turn violent.
The December 2004 tsunami left the Maldives devastated. It resulted in more than 100 deaths, 12,000 displaced, and damaged exceeded US$400 million in damage to homes and buildings. The tourism sector, in which the country heavily relies, was fortunately able to rebuild quickly through insurance coverage, saving potential damage to the country's economy.
Emergency protocols should be adopted by residents in the Maldives during the event of an accident, serious illness or criminal offense. To call the police department in the Maldives dial 1-1-9. There are no national emergency services in the Maldives. Expats must contact the hospital directly to organise an ambulance.
To contact emergency services at the ADK Hospital dial 331-3553; and the Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, dial 333-5335.
For air transportation or repatriation services, expats living in the Maldives can contact East West Rescue dial 91-11-2469-9229; 2469-0429; or 2469-8865.
For maritime emergencies, expats can contact the Coast Guard by dialing 1-9-1.