KuwaitOther News

30 percent drop in expats visiting public medical facilities: Minister

Domestic workers, bedoons exempt from new health charges

Health Minister Dr Jamal Al-Harbi

KUWAIT: Public hospitals recorded a 30 percent drop in the number of expatriate patients since new charges for health services were introduced at public medical facilities on Sunday, Health Minister Dr Jamal Al-Harbi said yesterday. He added domestic helpers and bedoons whose security IDs have expired have been exempted from the new medical charges.

Harbi said the old medical charges for domestic helpers will remain, but the new fees will not be applied to them. Bedoons or stateless people whose security identification cards have expired by not more than one month will also be exempted along with other bedoons who carry those IDs, the minister said.

The ministry of health raised medical fees for expatriates from the beginning of October. In some cases, the increase is more than fivefold. Expatriates have already been paying fees for a wide range of medical services at public hospitals and clinics, but the government decided to impose the huge increase in the face of slumping oil prices. Kuwaitis continue to receive medical services completely free of charge.

Harbi also said expatriate children under 12 years of age suffering from cancer or birth defects will be treated free of charge, and that spouses of Kuwaitis and their children are also exempt. Directors of hospitals and head of concerned sections can also exempt expatriates suffering from cardiac diseases and intensive care unit charges, the minister said.

Meanwhile, MP Rakan Al-Nasef said the National Assembly report on the deal to buy around 28 Eurofighter jets at a cost of around $9 billion will be completed next month. The lawmaker made the comments after a parliamentary committee following up issues raised in the grillings of the prime minister met yesterday with the defense minister to discuss the deal.

He said the committee heard the technical opinion over the deal in order to help the panel prepare its report, especially with regards to the response of the ministry to remarks made by the Audit Bureau. Nasef said the minister of defense and the ministry team reaffirmed their trust in the procedures of the deal and the final decision.

MP Faisal Al-Kandari meanwhile claimed that Oil Minister Essam Al-Marzouq has called for a crucial meeting of the board of directors of Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) to take a number of “suspicious” decisions. The lawmaker said that the meeting is expected to change leading positions at the four major oil companies and then ask the boards of those companies to approve the changes. Kandari warned the minister against taking these suspicious and illegal decisions and threatened to grill him at the start of the next term, starting on Oct 24. The lawmaker warned that the political cost of the anticipated decisions will be too high and the minister will not be able to bear it.


By B Izzak and A Saleh



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