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MENAFN - Arab Times - 13/09/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab Times) More than 68 percent of the voters, in an online poll conducted by Arab Times, felt that separate hospitals for expatriates in Kuwait would lead to substandard care.

About 19 percent doubted the possibility of such a project ever taking off in Kuwait surmounting all the legislative and bureaucratic hurdles. When Arab Times spoke to expatriates randomly, the main reason for such skepticism seemed to arise out of the many national projects piling up in the cold storage in the oil-rich country.

Nine percent welcomed the idea saying that it would give more confidence to expatriates in the country's healthcare system. Interviews with people who shared this view revealed that in hospitals run exclusively for expatriates, chances of meeting compatriot doctors would be higher, giving more faith to patients in the treatment."

Moreover, the crowd at such hospitals would be less. Some respondents noted that they wouldn't have to countenance the sight of wasta mongers jumping the queue and getting ahead of others waiting for a long time. "Even if they did, other patients will have the confidence to interfere and stop them, because they can be sure that it's not a citizen they are confronting."

A small minority of voters, five percent, viewed the idea of separate hospitals for expatriates from the government's angle saying it would ease the pressure on government hospitals.

People who feared substandard care in separate hospitals for expatriates based their fears on personal
experiences at hospitals, where patients were forced to resort to better medical care from back home for important surgeries that were delayed to the point of pushing the line.

A couple complained they lost their child during delivery because the doctors refused to perform a caesarean despite a major medical complication in the mother. There are also cases of newborns suffering from impairments due to the use of suction cups to draw the baby out because of the reluctance of doctors to perform a caesarian, the couple added.

Siddique Valiyakath, former president and patron of FIMA, who has been actively involved in organizing medical camps for expatriates in addition to other services for many years, welcomed the idea of separate hospitals for expatriates, contrary to the majority view of voters.

Siddique said that discrimination in the treatment of patients at government hospitals is a matter of the doctor's attitude. This is not a ministry-instigated norm. "In an exclusively expatriate hospital, people will have better access to medical facilities. They will also feel confident to complain to authorities against any violations in the hospitals."

When asked about the commonly known practice of closing access to some important drugs for expatriates at government hospitals, Siddique conceded this to be a fact. He was harsh in his criticism of this discrimination at government hospitals and said that including some life-saving drugs like Tenormin for hypertension are off limits to expatriates, "which is a very sad state."

Expatriates pay hefty sums every year on medical insurance only to be meted second-grade treatment, Siddique added. "The revenues for government from medical insurance run into millions of KD every year, and expatriates must be given access to, if not all, at least the crucial drugs. This current situation has to change."

With discrimination in the prescription of drugs to expatriates already on going, Siddique felt that it need not make expatriates unduly concerned and blind them to the many advantages that separate hospitals for them would bring in. "While, there is room for correction in the current healthcare system of Kuwait, separate hospitals for expatriates would be a welcome change, and perhaps a first step towards mending the faults."


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