Kuwait’s ban on foreigners attending public health facilities during the morning has started at the first hospital.
Earlier this year MPs agreed to set separate times for nationals and expats to attend public health facilities after complaints of Kuwaiti patients having to wait for treatment because of the large number of expatriates, who make up about two-thirds of the country’s population.
Kuwaitis will be given priority for medical checkups at public hospitals and clinics during the morning, with foreigners only able to access doctors in the afternoon, unless it is an emergency.
The decision is seen as favourable to nationals because expats would have fewer hours to seek medical attention. It has been criticised by some as being racist.
The Ministry of Health began implementing the new system on Sunday at Jahra Hospital, in Kuwait City’s west, where a six-month trial will take place before a decision is made on whether to broaden it to all public health facilities.
Kuwait provides free medical services to citizens but expats must pay an annual fee of $175 each besides paying reduced charges for certain procedures such as x-ray.