Delegation from Maldives, Led by Minister of Health, Visits Ukraine and Russia

A Maldivian delegation led by the Minister of Health of Republic of Maldives, Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed, along with a member of the Maldivian Medical Council, has just completed a fact-finding mission to Ukraine and the Russian Federation. WHO Representative to the Republic of Maldives, Dr Akjemal Magtymova accompanied the mission.

During the visits discussions were held between the respective Ministries of Health, leading medical colleges and regulatory institutions responsible for medical standards and accreditation in both Russia and Ukraine. Talks centred on ways for bi-lateral collaboration among the countries’ health authorities, the organization of health systems, medical education and health workforce regulatory mechanisms, and to outline opportunities for training and internships for Maldivian medical students and graduates.

The main outcome of the visit was the establishment of more robust communication between the respective Health Ministries, medical colleges and regulatory authorities to ensure a high-quality health workforce. With better channels of communication, the Medical Council of Maldives will be able to make regular inquiries on the quality of education and performance of Maldivian students in the medical education systems in Ukraine and Russia, as well as validate certificates of the expatriate workforce applying to work in Maldives.

In both countries, MOH, academia and medical authorities were keen for increased information-sharing, future cooperation and ensuring the quality of education standards and competencies as well as sharing technological know-how.

On July 4, the Maldives delegation met with their Ukrainian counterparts led by the first Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine, Oleksander Kachur. "We are prepared to study proposals to expand cooperation in the areas of higher health education," said Mr. Kachur, adding that currently there are 39 Maldives nationals studying in Ukrainian medical schools. "In addition, we are interested in expanding cooperation in the fields of medical technology and pharmaceuticals." Dr Jamsheed was quoted as saying that he looks forward to increased cooperation with Ukraine, as well as increasing the number of Maldives nationals enrolled in Ukrainian medical schools.

In Moscow, the Maldives delegation met with their counterparts from the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation led by the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Tatyana Vladimirovna Yakovleva, Director of the Department of International Cooperation and Public Relations, Dr Sergey Mihailovich Muravyev and Dr Igor Venyaminovich Maev, Director of the Department of Medical Education and Personnel Policy in Health.

The main topic of discussion was bilateral cooperation in the areas of health - including the training of more medical students in Russia, improved accreditation systems for practicing physicians and improving channels of communication. Concrete time lines were agreed upon for reform. Currently, the quota of medical fellowships in Russia is just two and Russia has offered to accommodate a larger number of fellowships if necessary. Moreover, the visit opened up the opportunities for in-service training of doctors in lead institutions sponsored by the Russian Government commencing as soon as next year (2014) - with a hands-on component as well as fellowships for medical degree studies.

The Maldives delegation had the opportunity to learn about the organization of the health system in Russia, which emphasizes preventative medicine and rehabilitation. Visits were also made to the Scientific Center of Children Health in Moscow and to the First Moscow State Medical University.

The delegation also visited WHO Country offices in both countries and had a dialogue with staff both to understand WHO programmes in the countries as well as the role of WHO in global health.

Ukraine and Russia are two of the handful of countries where Maldivian medical students travel for their education. Dr Jamsheed has expressed the hope that, in time, students can complete their internships in Maldives and even their full education. While this visit is one thrust of collaboration with WHO for ensuring quality of health workforce in Maldives, serious work is being undertaken to develop a longer term strategy for human resources for health and to explore the feasibility of establishing a medical college in the Maldives as well as catering for graduate medical students to have internship placements in IGMH.

The delegation also visited WHO Country offices in both countries and had an exchange dialogue with staff both to understand WHO programmes in the countries as well as to discuss the role of WHO in global health.