Expansion of Aasandha healthcare scheme to UAE and Thailand announced

Minister of Social and Family Development Dr. Aishath Shiham has revealed plans to utilise this year's budget to extend the government's universal healthcare insurance scheme, Aasandha, to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Thailand. The announcement was made in response to inquiries raised during a parliamentary session.

Parliamentarian Rozaina Adam sought clarification on the availability of Aasandha services in the UAE and Thailand, prompting Minister Aishath Shiham to confirm President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu's commitment to expanding Aasandha to these countries. She noted that discussions and preparations are currently underway to facilitate this extension.

In addition to the expansion plans, the minister addressed concerns regarding the inefficiencies within the Aasandha insurance system. Despite a budget allocation of USD 65 million in 2023, expenditures soared to USD 150 million by the year-end, with over USD 65 million spent solely on medications.

Furthermore, the ministry highlighted the exorbitant prices of medications in the Maldives, citing statistics from the World Bank. She emphasised that prices in the Maldives are 70 times higher than those in neighboring countries and six times higher than global market rates.