A 57-year-old victim of a heart attack from the northern island of Milandhoo in Shaviyani atoll died yesterday when her oxygen tank ran out just as she was about to board a plane to the capital.
The victim’s son, Mohamed Shiyam, told The Maldives Independent that doctors at the island’s health centre had recommended that his mother, Sameera Mohamed, be taken to the regional hospital in Haa Dhaal Kulhudhufushi, a population hub in the north.
“I asked them why we should go to the Kulhuduhfushi hospital first as doctors could not treat her there. They said it is the procedure if we were to use [the government’s health insurance scheme] Aasandha,” he said.
“This is discriminatory, patients with different political ideologies have been treated differently before. Instead of sending to Kulhudhuhfushi, some others are taken straight to Malé.”
After 48 hours at the intensive care unit at the regional hospital, Shiyam said doctors said his mother had suffered a heart attack and advised the family to take her to a hospital in Malé.
“But they said she could only be transferred on the 20th of this month as all the seats were reserved till then. I begged them to do something so she could get a seat but it was of no use. So I used all my connections and finally they arranged for us to leave at 5:30am flight on Tuesday morning,” he recalled.
“We arrived at the airport in Hanimaadhoo around three hours before the flight time and my mother was taken to a seating area in the airport. They had and IV and oxygen cylinder connected to her.
“We were getting ready to leave, my younger brother was with her, she was seated and he was holding her hand and I stood up with our boarding passes. Suddenly the doctor who was with us called out for an oxygen cylinder. He kept shouting frantically. I turned around and saw my mother dying before my eyes, my brother besides her.”
Shiyam said his mother was already dead when she taken to the Hanimaadhoo health post.
“We are all destined to die someday. Some naturally and some by others’ fault. My mother died because of a failed system,” he said.
He broke into tears several times during the phone interview.
The lack of facilities and qualified doctors at regional hospitals and island health centres forces Maldivians from across the country to routinely travel to Malé to seek medical treatment.
The government-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital and the private ADK hospital in the capital are the only tertiary hospitals in the country.
A media official at the Kulhudhufushi hospital, Hassan Hussain, said the family reported the incident yesterday, but declined to provide further details.
“The incident was reported by a family member who said that she died because the oxygen tank went empty. The health ministry is investigating the case now,” he said.
Health ministry officials were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
Local media report that the health ministry has suspended an expatriate doctor at the Kulhudhuffushi hospital on a charge of negligence. He may be sacked, said Sun Online.