President Dr Mohamed Waheed has today inaugurated the 4th meeting of SAARC health ministers. The inauguration ceremony was held this morning at Paradise Island Resort.

The 3rd SAARC health ministers meeting was held in 2006 in Dhaka.

Speaking at the function, President Waheed noted that the meeting was being held at a very critical time, when there is a need to pool the resources, to recognise the changes and to agree on useful and effective solutions.

Noting that regional cooperation have long been a norm in combating common challenges, President Waheed expressed confidence that SAARC can continue to play a pivotal role in achieving better health goals for its peoples.

Moreover, he said the initiatives under the auspices of the meetings of SAARC Health Ministers, would greatly enhance the common understanding and capacity to deal with regional health challenges.

“Such collaborations not only make economic sense and results in efficiency, but also lead to greater understanding of the nature of the present challenges and foster clear-cut responses”, he said.

The President further said he was confident that this forum would continue to address regional health issues such as the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases, the challenges faced by many small countries in the area of Human Resources for Health, and “the very real threat of bio-terrorism, which require cohesive strategies and approaches across all countries of the region”.

In his speech, the President also highlighted the challenges to the health system of the Maldives. Describing those challenges, he said those challenges include “irresponsible and ill-informed intervention in the organisation and management of the health system”; the dismantling of public health system; experimentation with the management of the system based on political activists; and, the complete neglect of prevention and primary health care.

He said:

“Today, we are faced with a system where the introduction of a universal health insurance system without adequate controls has lead to possibilities for rampant corruption”.

He added that such “irresponsible experimentation is inexcusable and criminal” interference with the rights of citizens to quality health care.