Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Separate and Unequal

To read this is to weep – from today’s Arab Times:

KUWAIT CITY : The parliamentary Health Committee has proposed the separation of expatriates and citizens in accident wards and outpatient departments to regulate procedures in public hospitals, said Committee Chairman MP Dr Hussein Quwaian Al-Mutairi Sunday. Clarifying the proposal is not aimed at discriminating between expatriates and citizens, Al-Mutairi explained this is just a move to improve work procedures in public hospitals as seen in the success of other GCC nations which had earlier adopted this mechanism. He said this is one of the numerous proposals to improve local health services discussed by the committee in its recently-concluded meeting. He added the committee will submit the proposals to the Parliament and Cabinet for approval.

With an aim to facilitate procedures for laying down a general and feasible government development strategy, Al-Mutairi confirmed the committee will cooperate with the Cabinet to improve health services in Kuwait. He said these proposals were culled from discussions with the people, who voiced their needs, aspirations and expectations with regards to public hospitals and clinics. Other proposals include increasing bed capacities in hospitals, constructing health insurance hospitals to serve foreign laborers and establishing Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Hospital with state-of-the-art medical equipment and facilities. Al-Mutairi also urged the Cabinet to pay more attention to different sectors of the community who are in dire need of medical insurance, such as senior citizens and mothers.

Al-Mutairi affirmed the panel will investigate cases which, he described, as a “national crises” — such as the rising number of Kuwaitis suffering from cancer and leukemia. He also criticized the Cabinet for the absence of accurate figures on these cases which, he said, will greatly contribute in finding means to curb the spread of such diseases, particularly early detection and identifying age categories more prone to these illnesses. Convener of the Committee MP Saleh Ashour said the panel discussed its priorities for the upcoming session and referred a draft bill for laborers in the private sector to National Assembly Speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi for inclusion in the Parliament’s schedule. He added the panel requested the presence of Health Minister Ali Al-Barrak in its meeting on Sunday to discuss the committee’s visions and suggestions for the upcoming period.

There is more. To read more of the issues the newly elected ministers are choosing to confront, click HERE.

June 9, 2008 - Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Social Issues


  1. Believe me when i say expats are taken care of very well. This does not mean they will get less care.

    Time and time again we’ve seen expat labourers who have no official papers, no iqama nothing, their own embassies offering no financial help and they are admitted and fully paid for by the social services in the hospital or from charity funds. Expats have access to courses of chemo where 1 session costs +900kd, and they either pay nothing or pay a very very very minuscule amount. All the embassies offer is a ticket home.

    What is written in the newspapers is one thing, what the laws say is another, and what actually does happen is totally different.

    People think just cuz they have to pay an extra 1KD stamp, that somehow expats are treated unfairly. I understand 1kd is a lot to some ppl, but they also have to understand that anywhere else in the world to get any kind of medical treatment u have to pay much more than 1kd.

    Sorry for ranting on and on…..but frankly speaking….if i hear another expat complaining about how the health system is unfair for them or hear another kuwaiti complaining about how bad the doctors are im going to have a stroke!

    Everytime i go to my tailor he has to give me the 1kd speech, and how he went to the polyclinic and the dr didnt give him anything but panadol.

    Ppl will never learn that sometimes u have to wait and ull get better without the need of drugs…..and they think pills will make them better as soon as they swallow them. And that sometimes theyre not even sick anyway and theyre here just to waste our time and resources!

    Sorry for my comment.
    Sometimes i feel all the torture im going through will just go unappreciated just like many other things in this country.

    Comment by Delicately Realitsic | June 9, 2008 | Reply

  2. I totally agree with Delicately Realistic. I’m an Iranian expat living in kuwait and with both my parents being over the age of 55 i have to tell u i spend a LOT and i mean A LOT of time in kuwait’s hospitals. In fact so much that my sis and i stm joke that we should just camp in the shweikh hospital area.

    Last year, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and all we paid in total was probably 4 KD (for 4 different stamps) and she received top-notch care. There was another Kuwaiti woman in her ward, and in the evenings they used to sit together and exchange ‘doctor’ stories. According to my mom, she received the exact same attention as the kuwaiti lady.

    I for one am grateful to the FREE medical care the Kuwaiti government provides to expats here.

    Now, the question here is HOW would segregating expats from citizens improve the quality of hospital care.

    Comment by Darya | June 9, 2008 | Reply

  3. Are they saying that “the separation of expatriates and citizens in accident wards and outpatient departments” is the only way “to regulate procedures in public hospitals”?

    I stress on (and underline) “THE ONLY WAY”!

    I read both comments (above mine) and I am glad to see expats happy about the health services here in the country, but I go back to separating the wards and dept. This will cost much more! Why not for example have a different booth for the ones who need a stamp to lessen the crowd on the other lines! Having different wards and dept is just gonna cost more money!! The system and the way people work.. and/or think just leaves me puzzled!

    I am sure that there are more ways of improving and “regulating” the procedures in hospitals! What do you think?

    Comment by Ansam | June 10, 2008 | Reply

  4. The State of Kuwait very generously offers non-Kuwaitis medical treatment for nominal fees.

    I remember once in the States, my dad suffered from a rusty nail wound in the head and was bleeding. He would not be tended to until he had paid in full first.

    Another time in the States I had taken my son to the emergency room in a hospital. He would not be looked at by a doctor until we had settled the bill in full (obviously I did not have American medical insurance).

    I have never received any free medical care in any country I have been in and neither have my relatives who have often paid exorbitant medical fees for routine check ups or operations.

    Are Kuwaitis offered free medical care in Egypt? India? Sri Lanka? Philippines? the UK (unless you’re a refugee)? the US? Not that I know of but I may be wrong.

    I do think as Kuwaitis, and as a minority population in our own country, we are entitled to the full benefits of medical care offered by this welfare state.

    Instead, I have found myself for most of my life paying for medical treatments at private hospitals in Kuwait.

    Why? Because unless you know someone who will guarantee you will be looked after (or have the blessings of the Bangladeshi attendant who will miraculously get you in to see the doctor through his own wasta or some connection with a one of the doctors)you will as a Kuwaiti have a hard time getting the free medical care we are so unjustly envied for.

    Comment by jewaira | June 10, 2008 | Reply

  5. Thank you Darya 😉 wallah it makes me so happy when I hear positive feedback.

    Jewaira: I know sometimes going to public hospitals means waiting in loooooong lines, but the doctors are more competent. And u deserve the best, not the most expensive. Those 2 things arent always the same thing.

    Im glad that everyone agrees with me. About how it will improve the healthcare system if they separate expats, I really dont know, they must have some kind of plan but the point i was trying to make is even though theyre thinking about doing this, things will not change for expats, they will insha Allah be getting the same level of care.

    A lot of the time expats come with tropical diseases, or infectious disease that are not endemic in Kuwait, like TB. And putting them in medical wards with other sick patients isnt a good idea. You would say well fine, why dont they isolate them? In kuwait ‘isolation’ means private room. Private rooms are ALWAYS full and its really hard getting one.

    As for accident wards, a lot of the time there are labourers who are admitted for things that happen at construction sites etc they are admitted into surgical wards or orthopaedic wards. We have no accident wards and we should.

    About separation in outpatients, sometimes expats do not speak a word of arabic or english and it takes ages to find out what the patients complaint is, wouldnt the system run smoother if they were treated by doctors who spoke there own language? And that way they can never say that the Kuwaiti or Egyptian doctor did not treat me because im not Kuwaiti etc etc. Out of experience ive noticed that patients feel more comfortable when treated by someone from there own country. Wish it was not that way, but if it means better healthcare and people being treated, why not?

    These are only guesses. I could be wrong.

    Comment by Delicately Realitsic | June 10, 2008 | Reply

  6. Don’t be sorry for the comment, DR. I like it when other voices come and make themselves heard.

    You have a lot of credibility, being inside the health care system. It’s important for us to hear what you have to say.

    Darya – that is the question – how does it separating the health care system improve health care for anyone?

    Ansam – Kuwait is moving forward in some improtant areas – like traffic law enforcement, and committing to an internal affairs division to insure a functional police force.

    I am guessing one thing that would improve health care in Kuwait is an enforced standard of credentials. The truth is, I myself have never had health care in a Kuwaiti facility, my only experience is visiting sick friends.

    Jewaira – Our (USA) health system needs fixing, no doubt. Like you, even if I am at death’s door, I have to prove I can pay, or that I have insurance that will pay. Like you, I pay extra to be able to choose my own physicians, based on credentials, board certification, reputation and referrals.

    DR – thanks to YOUR blog, we have been able to share a little of your struggle to become a physician in Kuwait, and I applaud you, the back-breaking work you do, the devotion you show to attaining your goal. I believe there are many fine doctors like you in the system. I can’t begin to imagine the challenges you face on a daily basis.

    Comment by intlxpatr | June 10, 2008 | Reply

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