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Kuwait approves segregation of medical care

Kuwait’s Health Ministry has reportedly approved a proposal to designate specific hours of the day that nationals and expatriates can access medical attention.

Under the change, 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.

Staff also will be segregated according to their nationality, with Kuwaitis working in the morning and expat doctors in the afternoon.

The move is seen as favourable to Kuwaitis while reducing the level of care given to expats, who make up about two-thirds of the Gulf state’s population but would have fewer hours they could seek medical attention.

Human Path Organisation secretary Taher Al-Baghly told reporters when the proposal was revealed in February that it was discriminatory.

“The health service will not be equal, because consultants work in the morning and this will lead to variations in service levels,” he said.

Psychological advisor Iman Al-Bedah said the proposal was “dangerous at all levels” and would discriminate against both patients and medical staff.

“The health sector is not qualified to face the burdens of the segregation policy, which will increase patient traffic in the evening and this will worsen the level of service,” she said in February.

“Such policy contradicts the standards and ethics of the medical profession. It also clashes with legal standards and international treaties related to human rights.”

However, Kuwaiti daily Arabic newspaper Al-Anba reported on Sunday that the proposal had been accepted by the Council of Medical Zones.

The newspaper quoted a source as confirming that the change was intended to “provide better service to Kuwaiti patients”, although they claimed the quality of service given to expats would not decline.

No timeline for implementing the new policy has been announced.


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