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One hundred days of Jazeera Raajje- Part III

Mariyam Malsa
04 May 2019, MVT 12:40
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. PHOTO: MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
04 May 2019, MVT 12:40

Continued from Part II

The following covers myriad pledges made by the state to increase the efficiency of both the health sector and Maldives Police Service (MPS) as well as efforts to provide comprehensive social security as part of its 100-day agenda.

A healthier, safer society

Unsurprisingly, assuring efficient and adequate medical facilities is high on the government’s priority list.

A crowning achievement of the state’s 100-day agenda is the fact that all medical health facilities offering Aasandha, the national healthcare insurance scheme, across the country are now connected by a VPN, giving doctors access to patient history, examination reports, X-ray details and other medical records.

Of equal significance is the MoU signed with a Singaporean company in order to strengthen the policies of Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) and monitor pharmaceuticals imported to Maldives. Additionally, arrangements have been put into place to regularly update waiting lists in order to improve service queues in Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), the main state hospital.

The highly anticipated national mental health institute was established in March with a total of 395 people seeking Aasandha covered treatment in the first month. In order to enforce a mental health national policy, a network of civil society organisations was established, a mental health bill drafted and negotiations held with STO to secure steady supplies of certain medications.

Furthermore, measures to provide adequate medical assistance to those suffering from certain conditions have been markedly successful.

In this regard, a nationwide system to treat diabetic patients was formulated and GeneXpert Machines to screen for tuberculosis were established in Kulhudhuffushi, Haa Dhaalu and Thinadhoo, Gaafu Dhaal. Access to medicine and medical services for thalassaemia patients in all parts of Maldives was ensured through STO and by providing required machinery to health centres that lacked them.

However, little seems to have been achieved concerning the provision of emergency care and ambulance service to all atolls. The procurement of ambulances is incomplete and a centralized ambulatory call centre is yet to be established.

Other accomplished pledges in the health sector include hosting a symposium on local and alternative medicine, HPA’s initiation of a regular programme to reduce mosquitos, rats and bats across Maldives in collaboration with island councils.

Furthermore, medical check-ups are now being facilitated through the school system, with students currently in grades one, four and seven undergoing checks. The drive to administer HPV vaccines for girls aged 9-13 is also taking place at schools located in the Greater Male’ region. The programme will be extended to other islands and atolls in early May.

Additionally, five outdoor locations in Male’ were allocated for exercise in a bid to fulfil the pledge made to preemptively prevent health complications. Work to establish four outdoor gyms in other locations is underway. Similarly, the state has partnered up with Public Service Media (PSM) to raise awareness about harmful products like tobacco, supari, energy drinks and sugary drinks.

In light of the recent increase in crime rates, the government vowed to strengthen police patrols in Malé City. The island was divided into eight neighbourhoods supervised by support officers who have now successfully solved 388 out of 804 reported cases.

Another measure to ensure the safety of streets in the Greater Male’ region was the installation of LED solar lights on the three islands therein. Although lights have already been fixed on the Hulhumale’ Highway and other areas of the reclaimed suburb, efforts to attain lights for the capital and Vilimale are not yet complete.

Regarding the pledge to Install CCTV and speed cameras on the Sinamale Bridge, the authorities are overseeing the bidding process to procure necessary equipment.

Maldives Transport Authority, HPA and the Police conducted a workshop to spread road safety awareness and distributed 5,000 helmets to participants.

Promised environment and road safety police have also commenced operations.

Despite the attainment of the aforementioned pledges, the Police Reform Programme implemented on March 29, the eighty-first anniversary of the police services, is the vow most likely to reap long-lasting benefits in terms of security. The programme was formulated with feedback obtained from a two-day symposium of police officers in addition to public opinions collected through 20 forums hosted across the country.

The foreign ministry also holds an impressive track record for fulfilling 100 percent of its pledges when Maldives' request to rejoin the Commonwealth of Nations was lodged in late 2018.

The Jazeera Society

The new administration’s drive to ensure sufficient protection for children, especially those under state care resulted in the submission of the Child Rights Protection bill and the alteration of regulations governing foster care to make it easier for families to adopt children housed in state facilities.

The condition of three such children’s homes, ‘Viyavathi’, ‘Kudakudhinge Hiyaa’ and ‘Aman Hiyaa’ were also assessed, with the state commencing efforts to contract out maintenance work and recruit permanent staff.

However, the government is yet to begin distributing the pledged “baby box”, containing essential items and a care handbook, for newborn babies.

Addressing the issue of social security for people with disabilities, a scheme to provide therapeutic services for such individuals under the Aasandha scheme was launched in December. Ministry Of Gender, Family And Social Services has commenced work to provide more job opportunities for disabled individuals which involved conducting disability sensitization sessions in 16 companies.

In a move to extend social services to locals living abroad, Maldivians residing in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia can now access Aasandha health insurance services.

The government also established a home for abandoned elderly people in the Guraidhoo Health Centre to provide welfare to senior citizens. However, the assessment of Guraidhoo Center remains incomplete along with the implementation of necessary measures to solve the problems identified.

Information about persons with disabilities, recovering addicts and people requiring social welfare on all islands was collected and compiled to create a community-based rehabilitation network.

Further, effective from March 6, maternity leave for civil servants was increased to six months, while paternity leave was extended to one month.

The importance assigned by the state to social work carried out by ordinary members of the community, an NGO bill was submitted to the parliament and ‘Heveli’, a two-day fair was conducted to showcase work done by such organizations, recruit members, and present companies with proposals.

Additionally, an online portal detailing information on 2,360 civil society organisations operating in the Maldives was launched on February 24.

On the religious front, utilizing renewable energy to install air-conditioning in mosques has yet to commence, neither has the facilitation for women to pray in allocated mosques. However, a programme to teach the Quran in mosques, including individuals with special needs, is underway.

Active communities and communal activity

In the interest of creating social harmony and recreational opportunities, the state made further pledges.

One such well-received statement would be the promise of facilitating measures for the parliament to call for a vote on issues petitioned by an appropriate number of people. To this effect, an amendment was submitted to the parliament regulations, requiring lawmakers to debate all petitions featuring a minimum of 2,500 signatories. Similarly, Local Government Authority published a regulation on how to hold Town Hall Meetings upon the request of the general public on January 2.

Additionally, to aid recovery and assimilation, a total of three drug rehabilitation centres in Hanimaadhoo, Haa Dhaalu Atoll, Hithadhoo, Seenu Atoll and Thinadhoo, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll were established.

Meanwhile, the project to initiate road development in Fuvahmulah City was contracted to MTCC on March 27. Although a meeting with relevant stakeholders was held regarding the creation of municipal inspectors, the policy is yet to be implemented.

As part of the government's move to vitalize the Maldivian sports industry, the state created the position of sports councillor in all islands, allocated a budget of at least MVR 500,000 for every national sports association and conducted an audit of sports and sporting facilities across the entire country. Wage differences for men and women on national sports teams were eliminated.

Moreover, ‘Dhiyares’, a water sports convention and 'Dhulhaheyo Hashiheyo Eid's initial program were also held in Male' city. However, the pledge to construct an Olympic-sized swimming pool complex in the Malé area remains in limbo, as an exact location for the project is yet to be determined.

Similar to pledging improvements to the local sports scene, the government also included several general recreational facilities in its 100-day agenda.

In addition to the allocation of an island near Male’ for recreational use, 144 islands in other atolls were designated for picnic-going and recreation. The Ministry of Youth, Sports And Community Empowerment is also managing a weekend marked dubbed ‘Hafthaa Res’.

However, efforts to revamp existing social grounds such as Raalhugandu, Artificial beach, Rasfannu, Usfasgandu, City Park and Lonuziyaaraiy in Male’ City have not been unaddressed.

The pledge to close one road in every district of Male' for vehicles on every Friday for a set number of hours, aims to allow children to play freely on the streets. Discussions on specifics of the ‘Dhulhaheyo, Hashieyo Avvaterity’ Program as it is known, are still ongoing between stakeholders.

Housing Development Corporation (HDC) has undertaken work to make swimming at night in the Hulhumale’ beach area a safe and reasonable endeavour. The state-owned enterprise is also ensuring the provision of clean water and building public toilets across the urban suburb.

Resounding success, or just scratching the surface?

Overall, the President’s Office declared an 83 percent success rate on its extensive 100-day agenda.

The services of a government cannot be assessed by the same standards as an examination or report card and basic services certainly cannot be compromised. Therefore, we as citizens must ask ourselves whether we shall remain satisfied or continue to hold the state to higher standards.

Moreover, the government's pledges must solve deep-rooted causes of problems instead of simply dealing with fall-out or sweeping dirt under the proverbial carpet.

Nevertheless, it is undeniable that considerable achievements were secured during the government’s initial period of power.

Now, it is up to the budding administration to build upon the promising foundation it cemented during its first 100 days in power. It is crucial that the momentum gathered does not die with a whisper at the end of the media-heavy period, and that the state’s numerous pledges make a lasting impact on the 400,000 people who call this country home.

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