The World Health Organization (WHO), on Thursday, donated cold chain and laboratory supplies to the Ministry of Health to support the Maldivian government's effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen the health system.
WHO South-East Asia Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh handed over the supplies to Minister of Health Ahmed Naseem during a virtual ceremony .
The equipment is intended to facilitate the establishment of a modern cold chain system to supply COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccine doses as well as enhance service quality and sustain testing efforts for COVID-19, measles, rubella and influenza.
The donated cold chain equipment will be adequate enough to support vaccine management for the next 10 years.
"With WHO's contributions, Maldives has made significant progress in its healthcare and development indicators over the past decades", stated Health Minister Naseem.
"Being a small island nation, Maldives is vulnerable to the impacts of socio economic transformations and environmental challenges. As such, it is imperative that we prioritize increasing our capacity for protecting health in an unstable and changing climate".
WHO's donation will build on Maldives' achievements by facilitating COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and ensuring that progress is maintained in other important areas such as strengthening surveillance for tuberculosis, measles and rubella.
"Despite the country’s global connectedness and population density in capital Male', COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country have been three times below the global average mortality per million population", stated Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, commending Maldives' efforts to address the pandemic.
"I look forward to Maldives’ ongoing regional and global leadership throughout the vaccine roll-out and in the recovery from the crisis and commend leaders on their commitment to build a caring state and to implement the Strategic Action Plan in letter and spirit".
Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO has collaborated with the Maldivian government and other partners to implement scenario-based responses, as well as whole-of-government, whole-of- society buy-in. Procurement of essential medicines and consumables has assisted the state to maintain essential health services and has been a key area of focus throughout the response.
Additionally, Maldives has tested 75 percent of its population, facilitated by WHO-provided test kits since the beginning of the pandemic.
Regional Director Singh also noted that Maldives spends 10 percent of its GDP on the health sector, representing the highest allocation in the region, in order to provide state-funded and comprehensive health insurance to citizens.
"I am certain that Maldives’ commitment to adequate and efficient public health financing will continue to be a core feature of its efforts to achieve UHC, a flagship priority in the region and the target that underpins Sustainable Development Goal 3".