President Abdulla Yameen laid the foundation for a National Diagnostic Centre at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Malé at a groundbreaking ceremony Sunday night.
The US$140 million project for the construction of a 25-storey hospital tower was awarded to Singapore’s Chang Hua without an open bidding process last March.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Yameen said he was informed that sheet piling for the building would begin later that night.
“So God willing we will be getting a very tall building that that houses a modern, state-of-the-art diagnostic centre as well as numerous other facilities,” he said, adding that it would become the tallest skyscraper in the country.
“What we want to symbolise with this is our aspiration for a better life or how far we want to develop the health sector.”
Yameen said the diagnostic centre will be able to cater to at least 130,000 people, which is the combined population of Malé and its suburb Hulhumalé.
Once modern facilities are set up at the centre, Yameen said substantial savings could be made in the state budget as fewer Maldivians would travel overseas for medical treatment with coverage from the state health insurance scheme.
The government’s aim is to make “top quality healthcare” available in Malé, he said.
Yameen also said that a diagnostic center of the same level will be established in Addu City, the second largest population hub in the country.
“God willing, work will begin this year. Addu atoll’s Hithadhoo hospital’s modification work will be tendered and physical work will begin,” he said.
At the contract signing ceremony in March, Farhath Shaheer, IGMH’s CEO, had said that the hospital tower will house a diagnostic imaging center, an oncology center, a cardiology center, shops, doctor’s accommodation and a restaurant.
He also said that US$40 million was earmarked for the first phase of the hospital tower in the 2016 budget.
A further US$100 million will be paid out in 2017 and 2018, he said.
Farhath said the IGMH had proposed the design, but the economic council had chosen the contractor.
Amendments brought to regulations last year allow the cabinet’s economic and youth council to award major contracts without a bidding process.
Yameen also opened a National Cardiac Centre and a conference facility at IGMH on Sunday night.
“As I have been informed, the place has been equipped with all the normal cardiac treatments needed. When we get to mid-Ramadan, the cardiac center will be commissioned and all the services needed by the Maldivian citizens,” he said.
The president went on to announce plans to provide housing for IGMH’s doctors and nurses.
“Our government has decided tonight to include IGMH’s professionals among the beneficiaries of the housing schemes. God willing, we will pave the way for IGMH’s doctors and nurses when the first scheme is open. But this is laws permitting,” he said.