I have been following for some time the suggestions of MP Safaa Al-Hashem regarding expatriates and medical treatment. Clearly, the MP sees that expats constitute a burden on the state budget, which must be addressed and resolved.
Theoretically, what the MP thinks is correct and logical, because it is not reasonable to have a population comprising 70 percent of expatriates and 30 percent citizens. These percentages are officially registered on the website of the Public Authority for Civil Information.
Those who argue about the validity and credibility of Hashem’s statements do not want to mention the whole truth and admit that there is a real imbalance in the population structure and the consequent health, educational, security and social problems. This requires a quick and fair solution by all MPs and the government for the benefit of all expats – or not.
To clarify the matter, Hashem did not demand the prevention of treatment of expatriates, but suggested dealing with the imbalance and waste in the disbursement of medicines from hospitals and government clinics, and to apply health insurance on all expats in a practical and real way as in any civilized country to achieve justice for all – citizens and expatriates.
This is a fact that the Kuwaiti citizen suffers from the deterioration in public services starting with chaos, overcrowding, delays at government hospitals, traffic jams, high prices and education. Now, the fear of illness and medical errors in diagnosis and possibly death by a non-specialist doctor worries everyone, from street cleaners to ordinary people, whether they are citizens or expatriates. These are just examples, but health and treatment remain a top priority for the public, and not only for the rich or holders of luxury health insurance. Since receiving medical treatment is a human right, it must be rational. This daily suffering has created grievances and anxiety, especially in the absence of radical solutions to these problems and others.
Unfortunately, we need to resolve the basic problem, which is the imbalance in population. In fact, there is a real need for a filter to determine the numbers of expatriates and the jobs we need them for, such as the judiciary, for example. Also, the issue of health insurance should be considered, and I hope that it will be applied as in the UAE, where every employee has health insurance, expat or citizen. This insurance is a must under specific conditions to get treatment and medicines, while the sponsor is obliged by law to pay the required fees. Therefore, no one can manipulate the law or fear his health and treatment are at risk.
But can the law force the sponsor to pay for the health insurance requirements for employees? There is no country in the world that does what Kuwait does for citizens and expats with regards to free medical treatment. None! The proposal by Hashem would have been better received if it was presented as a complete proposal to reform the health situation in Kuwait and amend health insurance laws to stop the current wastage in the pharmaceutical sector or other medical sectors. The problem needs to be addressed at its roots, instead of punishing those who have no hand in creating the problem.
The continuation of similar proposals in a punitive rather than a therapeutic way will divert media and official attention from the real problem that is facing Kuwait, which is the imbalance in the population structure.
By Muna Al-Fuzai