Maldives’ national Health Insurance provider ‘Aasandha’ revealed that by July, the scheme has spent MVR 516 million to fund free medical services.
According to information published by the Ministry of Finance, Aasandha expenditure this year saw an increase of MVR 110 million, compared to the MVR 406 million that was spent on providing health care to Maldivians in 2019, over the same period.
In addition to the country’s universal health scheme, state expenditure on health totals MVR 1.7 billion, inclusive of aid and other subsidies.
Statistics indicate that overall, the government has already spent MVR 11.4 billion this year, whereas in 2019, Maldives spent a significantly lower MVR 10.7 billion over the same period.
The increase is largely attributed to the country’s response efforts over the local outbreak of COVID19, amid the ongoing global pandemic.
Although 2020’s annual budget for the health sector was set for MVR 1.7 billion last year, the Finance Ministry recently determined that an additional release of MVR 1.6 would be required to manage the, as yet unresolved, health crisis.
Per the government’s projections, Maldives currently faces a shortage of MVR 3.3 billion or approximately USD 214 million.
Tourism is the main pillar of the country's economy, contributing over two-thirds of the GDP, 80 percent of exports, and 40 percent of revenue. The industry began to decline in February over the coronavirus pandemic, coming to a deadlock on March 27 as Maldives, like many other countries, closed its air and sea borders to tourist arrivals.
The travel restrictions, implemented as part of Maldives' response to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, left the country vulnerable to severe economic impacts.
By mid-April, the World Bank projected that Maldives would be the worst-hit economy in the South Asian region, due to the pandemic.
Over the last few months, the Maldivian government has been vocal about efforts being made to securing grants and various aid, as work to reverse the country’s regressive financial status continues.
Currently, Finance Ministry estimates that should the country’s country fall into ‘scenario 3’ category, recovery may require as much as MVR 13 - 15 million.