Honorable Ahmed Nashid, Chairman and CEO of ADK Group of companies, Ministers, Managing Director of ADK, Ahmed Afaal, officials from Government Authorities, doctors, healthcare professionals and experts from across the sector, management and staff of ADK Hospital.
And a very good morning to you all.
I am pleased to join you today for the fourth edition of the Maldives Brain and Spine Conference 2022, organised by ADK Hospital. This conference started in 2017 as a small gathering to share knowledge and experiences in the field. I am delighted to see, today, that it has grown so much since.
I see faces from across the globe today—doctors, healthcare professionals and pioneers in the industry; from across Asia, Europe and the Americas. And my appreciation goes to Dr Ali Niyaf and his team here, for their valuable contributions. Though you might see this conference as a small step, I believe that ADK Hospital is taking giant strides in the healthcare sector.
It was 1987 when you opened your doors as MediClinic. Today, ADK Hospital is an institution helping drive the nation’s healthcare sector further. I take pleasure in seeing you take new steps every day, be it introducing a new service, or conducting new procedures and surgeries. Every such step helps improve the overall healthcare experience in this country.
As a private healthcare institution, I believe you have an edge, which is highly beneficial for the country. I am pleased that you will soon introduce three new services, including a 3-Tesla MRI system, the first such system in the Maldives.
And the PET scan system, another first, will add great value to oncology diagnostics. It will help eliminate the need to travel abroad. I express deep admiration and appreciation of the administration, and that of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, to you, Mr Nashid, and your team here. The same goes for other private healthcare service providers across the country; private hospitals, clinics and others.
I can recall the Brain and Spine conference held in 2018, right before our administration took office. I highlighted numerous gaps in the provision of healthcare services across the country. And we pledged to address the shortage of specialist doctors and other healthcare professionals in the country. I am happy with the progress we have made so far in these areas.
We are working diligently to eliminate the arduous and heart-breaking practice of residents from the outer atolls forced to travel to Malé for basic healthcare needs. Development of five tertiary hospitals is underway. They currently have CT, mobile ultrasound scans and laboratory services. MRI and cardiac services are now available in the north and south, while dental and other specialist services are too accessible.
We also recently completed the Raajje Transport Link ferry services in zone one, encompassing 41 islands in the north. And at the heart of it is Kulhudhuffushi Regional Hospital. Earlier, ferry services were available three days a week. But now, the people in this zone are able to travel to Kulhudhuffushi City every day of the week, and access healthcare services.
That is the vision of our administration. We are making healthcare more accessible to all in their home islands or nearby regional hospitals. Working to strengthen and improve these developments is an everyday task. Efforts to develop and enhance healthcare services are progressing on every island and every atoll. For instance, establishing a Catheterisation laboratory in the Addu Equatorial Hospital is underway. We expect this Cath Lab to be opened very soon.
We are also revitalising the primary healthcare system and have introduced a public healthcare portal. We have established psychiatry services in five atolls and will soon open a new mental healthcare centre in Hulhumalé. In Sha Allah, these developments will significantly help the vision of the administration, and that of President Solih, to strategically decentralise healthcare services across the country.
With these developments, we have not neglected the other side of the coin; human resources development. Training professionals in the health sector is a core component of nation-building and one of the most significant commitments of this administration. Over the past four years, we have provided scholarship opportunities to more than 70 students in medicine and related fields. The number of students enrolled in our “Free Education Scheme for Degree Students” has surpassed 15,000. And I am very happy to tell you that over 800 of these students are in nursing programmes.
The role of the private sector in human resources development is vital to our work. And ADK Hospital’s contributions are second to none. I understand that 40 staff have so far completed higher education through ADK Scholarships, of which 20 are doctors. Another three are currently studying abroad in the fields of rheumatology, neurosurgery and internal medicine.
Earlier this week, you have signed an agreement with the Maldives National University to provide practical placement for medical students in your hospital. These contributions to our nation-building efforts are exemplary, and I thank you for these collaborative initiatives.
I would also like to take this opportunity to shed light on the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in the country. According to the World Health Organisation, NCDs kill 41 million people yearly, equivalent to 74 per cent of all deaths. Sadly, the scenario is no different here in the Maldives.
Data from the Ministry of Health show that the prevalence of NCDs is alarming. A 2020 report revealed that NCDs accounted for more than 35 per cent of the in-patients in the country, while the number of deaths associated with NCDs was also high. Cardiovascular diseases, genitourinary diseases, and respiratory diseases, in addition to endocrine diseases and malignant neoplasms, were the leading causes.
The increased occurrences of NCDs result from changes to our lifestyles, something we can prevent. Reducing the instances of these diseases and improving public health is relatively simple. Adopting healthy lifestyles like taking healthy and well-balanced diets and getting regular exercise is an easy step we all can take. The number of people following these lifestyles is increasing, but more people need to jump on the bandwagon. There are no limits to what we can achieve if we really work together.
Once again, I would like to thank the senior management especially
Mr Nashid, the CEO and Chairman, and staff of ADK Hospital for your immense contributions to the nation’s healthcare sector and for following your motto and “caring about us when we need it the most.” I hope this conference provides the platform you envisioned for sharing research, innovation, advanced treatment modalities, and peer experiences.
Thank you very much and have a blessed day.