Health Minister admits negligence in 10-year old's death

Health Minister Ahmed Naseem has stated that authorities will complete the probe into the death of a 10-year old COVID-19 patient by end of Wednesday and identify any negligence.

10 year old Fathmath Mishka Mohamed was in quarantine with her family after testing positive for COVID-19 and was doing well. According to the family, Mishka's condition stated deteriorating on Monday night, and the family called for an ambulance around 9:00 pm. However, the ambulance arrived almost 3 hours later around 11:40 pm and Mishka was not conscious by the time she was finally taken to the hospital. She passed away in IGMH's ER at 12:10 am, making her the Maldives' youngest COVID-19 victim to date.

During a press conference held by the Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) on Wednesday night, Minister Naseem admitted there was negligence on the ministry's part in handling Mishka's case.

"I do admit there was negligence, a negligence on the Health ministry's part in the delay that was caused in ambulance deployment. I spoke to the family [of the victim], I spoke to Mohamed [Mishka's father], and I talked to him about the incident. That was before Mishka passed away. I believe even the president called the family and discussed the case," said the minister.

Minister Naseem said five ambulances are used for COVID-19 related matters in Male' City and said it was an adequate amount.

The minister said that the case review will reach completion on Wednesday night and that authorities are identifying where the negligence lies. He added that he does not believe there were any delays in investigating the case, and assured that any steps taken in light of the investigation's findings will be made public.

The Health Minister also added that he will make sure there is no negligence on his part. When asked if he was considering stepping down from his post following the incident, the minister said he can answer the question only after investigating the matter. He added that he believed the matter can be investigated fairly and impartially even if he remained as the minister during the probe.

"I do not know if I will have to resign. We first have to identify if there is any negligence on my part. Over 8,000 employees work at the Health Ministry, which is around 21 percent if the Civil Service. In an entity this big, with so many employees.. there are over 480 staff working in our building alone. If an incident occurs due to the negligence of all these people, is it only me that will have to take the responsibility for the negligence? This is a question I need to ask myself," said the minister.

Minister Naseem further added that it is on him if responsibilities and tasks have not been delegated to other employees, and it is his responsibility to change procedures if any issues had been previously identified. Therefore, he will review if he was negligent in any of the two aspects, he added.