Hithadhoo Regional Hospital was established with the aid of funds donated by UNICEF and was opened on the 24th November 1984 by the Maldivian government. Originally, it comprised just 14 beds and a single medical officer but the facilities and staff capacity have since expanded so it now possesses over 50 beds with outpatient clinics in Dentistry, ENT, Gynaecology, Internal Medicine, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Reproductive Health and Diagnostics imaging. While originally under the Ministry of Health it is now run by the co-operative sector. It is the main referral hospital servicing the South Province of the Maldives and there are plans to expand capacity to over 100 beds.
The hospital is situated on the island of Hithadhoo, which is part of the southernmost atoll in the Maldives - Addu atoll (previously called Seenu atoll). Hithadoo island is 9.5km by 2.3 km and has a population of approximately 15,000. It is over 530 km south of Male, the capital of the Maldives. Residents from other islands in Addu atoll, including Hulhumeedhoo, Maradhoo and Feydhoo use the services of Hithadoo Regional Hospital.
The Ophthalmology Department at Hithadoo Regional Hospital is usually staffed by just a single ophthalmologist. It is a small, clinic-based set-up with no major ophthalmic surgeries performed. Common conditions encountered include posterior segment toxoplasmosis, allergic conjunctivitis, dry eye and traumatic injuries. Patients requiring surgery are referred to Indira Gandhi Memorial hospital in Male, the capital of the Maldives, which is over 530 km away and reached by air transport. There are plans to set up a Telemedicine link between Hithadoo and Male, so that ophthalmologists may be in closer communication. At present there are no structured training or externship programs set up in ophthalmology at Hithadoo. The ophthalmology service is often staffed by doctors trained in India, who live in Hithadoo for 3-4 years, building up experience and using the quieter lifestyle of the Maldives to study for their post-graduate exams while gaining clinical experience.