MALE, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Maldives government has decided to introduce sea ambulance services throughout the islands within two months to transport patients more quickly and safely in the tourist hotspot, local media reported here on Tuesday.
Speaking during a press conference, Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim said presently, patients are being transferred between islands with great difficulty.
In a move to ease the difficulties faced in patient transportation, the government will launch sea ambulance services in four regions of the country, he said.
Government is yet to decide on the regions to establish the service which will be included in the national health insurance scheme "Aasandha," local media outlet Haveeru reported.
"Our hope is to expand the service to 23 regions of the Maldives within a year. The aim is to transport patients to the nearest health care facility other than capital Male," Minister said.
Speedboats from the Health Ministry, Police and the military will be used in the service. The vessels will be converted to provide emergency healthcare on-board.
Health Minister Dr. Mariyam Shakeela noted that previous attempts to introduce sea ambulance service had not been successful. Out of the 26 speedboats at the ministry's disposal, only six are presently operational.
"The introduction of sea ambulance service will counter one of the biggest challenges facing us. The aim of the sea ambulance is to bring an end to the difficulties faced in transporting patients between islands," she said.
According to Nazim, the government will look for assistance from the U.N. and Red Crescent.
The military will oversee the task of patient transportation which will be handled by military area commands.
Over 1 million tourists visited the Maldives last year with nearly a quarter of them being Chinese.