Medical check-ups will be available only at state health facilities, starting with people over the age of 50, it has been confirmed by Aasandha, the operating body for the state’s health services scheme.

Managing Director Aminath Zeeniya, speaking at the launch of the medical check-up through Aasandha, said that the screenings will target the most commonly occurring diseases in Maldivians. These include heart and kidney disease, cancer, and lung disease, as well as diabetes, she confirmed. Any changes to Aasandha’s offerings will be announced later, she said.

The check-up service, launched on Monday, will be rolled out for different age groups, and it will initially be made available for individuals aged 50 and above.

The next eligible groups will include those aged between 35 and 49 and children under 19, starting April 2024. While children are already being screened, the government has reviewed the programme and decided to include the age group within the April launch, according to Aasandha. Young people, aged 19-34, will be able to apply for the service starting July 2024.

Zeeniya said the elderly are the first to be included in the medical check-up because they are the most likely to suffer from serious illnesses. Therefore, screenings can possibly identify issues before they become serious health issues. The medical check-up will include blood, urine, and stool tests.

According to Zeeniya, the check-up will be deemed complete after tests are done and the reports are shown to the doctor. The second medical check-up of the year will be scheduled after 6 months. However, the test can only be done at the advice of a doctor, she confirmed.

The screenings will be categorised to specifically cater to individuals over 50, those between 35 and 49, individuals aged 19–34, and those under 19. These screenings can only be done at government health centres, clinics, and hospitals.

The state’s main hospital has already responded to the possibility of increased numbers of patients and service delays. Ibrahim Abdul Razzaq Haleem, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Darumavantha Hospital, said that appointments can be made via telephone, and once the appointment is schdueld, Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) will notify patients and provide guidance on how to prepare for the test.

Once the appointment is fixed, a token number will be issued as well as a memo, Haleem said. The test report will be completed within four hours, and if a major disease is detected, the patient will be referred to a specialist, he added.

At present, medical check-ups can be conducted at IGMH, Villimalé Hospital, and Hulhumalé Hospital’s GP Clinic, though appointments at Hulhumalé Hospital may encounter service delays.

Haleem said Saturday and Wednesday will be reserved for check-up appointments, with the check-ups done on Tuesdays and Thursdays and consultations held on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Schedules are subject to change based on demand.

Heena Waleed, the CEO of the National Social Protection Agency, said the Ministry of Health has assured that tests included in the check-up will be conducted at many health centres. However, tests that cannot be done at an island health centre will be completed by sending samples to the nearest medical facility where tests can be done, she said.