Local officials at a loss on how best to reform Maldives’ drug rehab system

Health Minister Ahmed Naseem at the Parliament on September 15, 2021. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Health Minister Ahmed Naseem said on Wednesday that local officials do not know how best to reform the drug rehabilitation system in Maldives – a country where roughly 70 percent of the prison population are drug offenders. 

Naseem voluntarily attended the parliamentary sitting on Wednesday morning to brief parliamentarians regarding the restructuring of National Drug Agency (NDA). He was questioned by parliamentarians after the briefing. 

In response to a question by West Henveiru MP Hassan Latheef regarding whether Naseem plans on bringing in international experts assist in the initiative, Naseem said the biggest issue facing local officials is not knowing how best to reform the system. 

“The main thing for us is we don’t know that well how to get this done. I acknowledge that. If I were to pretend I knew everything about a job I had been given, I would not have any success in this,” he said. 

Naseem said the work will be with the assistance of technical experts in the field, and that he has not made any decision against the advice of experts. 

Health Minister Ahmed Naseem at the Parliament on September 15, 2021. (Photo/People's Majlis)

“I admit that we are not providing the best treatment. We need to research the treatment we are providing. We don’t have specialists among us. We are therefore working on recruiting specialists from overseas,” he said. 

Naseem said that specialist doctors in drug rehabilitation will be brought to Maldives soon. 

Stressing that drug offense is a national crisis, Naseem said that the authorities require support from the Parliament. 

NDA was removed from the management of Gender Ministry and transferred to Health Ministry during President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration.