By B Izzak
KUWAIT: The health ministry on Sunday imposed new charges on medicines for expats at public clinics and hospitals on top of old fees, as the ministry bids to resolve a shortage of medicines in the country. The ministry imposed a fee of KD 5 on expats for receiving medicines from public clinics or from hospital emergencies and KD 10 for receiving medicines from outpatient clinics at hospitals.
The new charges come on top of the old fees of KD 2 per visit to public clinics and KD 10 for visiting hospitals. The charges and fees apply to expats who pay annual charges to be covered under the government health insurance scheme. Every expat is required to pay an annual fee of KD 50 to be able to receive medical treatment at health ministry facilities. Expats also pay a variety of charges for surgeries, radiology services and others.
The ministry of health also barred dispensing a number of key medicines to expats on top of around 80 medicines banned in 1997. The measures come as part of the health ministry’s efforts to resolve an acute shortage of vital drugs in ministry stores. The government said it has earmarked some KD 260 million to import medicines as soon as possible.
A meeting between HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Sabah and several ministers with the Assembly speaker and MPs which was supposed to take place on Monday has been postponed. The premier will still meet the Assembly speaker. The meeting was supposed to discuss cooperation between the government and the Assembly to iron out some differences over a number of issues to establish strong cooperation.
Among these issues is a draft law calling on the government to purchase all consumer and personal loans of Kuwaiti citizens, which the Assembly’s financial and economic affairs committee has approved but the government has rejected. The government has reportedly told the panel that the value of these loans is KD 14 billion and the cost of the purchase process will be KD 23 billion. Several MPs said the cost is much lower. The financial committee has sent its report on the issue to the Assembly, which is expected to debate the bill on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Assembly’s interior and defense committee approved a draft law stipulating the establishment of an election commission to supervise the polls instead of the government. The committee also approved the scrapping of a law that deprives politicians from running for public office if they were convicted of abusing HH the Amir.