‘Need to set standards for foreign medical care’
KUWAIT CITY, Sept 28: Reacting to the article published in the daily under the headline “Overseas medical treatment”, some public welfare associations and activists expressed their support for this article, stressing that the large budget allocated for sending patients for treatment abroad can be used for developing the health system in the country, reports Al-Rai daily. In this context, Head of the Kuwait Transparency Society Majid Al-Mutairi said, “The issue of overseas medical treatment is a huge door for corruption, especially considering the reports about the health funds in Germany and London, and the inability of the Ministry of Health to control these expenses.”
“The COVID-19 crisis has proven that overseas treatment is a door for political gain. We have conducted a study in the Kuwait Transparency Society regarding this issue, and discovered that cases of overseas treatment increases during holidays among legislative councils. This is a real indication that it is being used for political pleasing.
“To completely close the door of overseas medical treatment may be almost impossible due to the fact that there are critical cases for which many countries may not be able to find treatment. However, we are talking about the need to set certain standards so that we do not find people going abroad for state-funded plastic surgery”.
According to Dr Faisal Ahmed Al-Haidar, a specialist in constitutional, administrative and financial law who studied at Bangor University in Wales, Britain, overseas medical treatment is a controversial, complex and confusing topic. It costs the state hundreds of millions of dinars. We therefore ask our esteemed government to stop sending its citizens to travel to other countries under the pretext that treatment is available abroad.”
He said, “The State of Kuwait has adequate and specialized hospitals in many diseases that can be treated locally. We have many specialists for many diseases, even if the diseases are new and strange. Evidence to that is the COVID-19 infection, which was handled locally in both government and private hospitals.”
Dr Al-Haidar explained that the constitutional text urges the need to take care of health related aspects. Kuwait treats its citizens in clinics and hospitals for free, and expatriates for low fees. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many international airports including Kuwait International Airport were compelled to close or follow strict measures, and many people were barred from seeking medical treatment abroad. He said, “We strongly recommend and request that the State of Kuwait stop the so-called abroad entertainment medical tour, and the political gain that some members of the National Assembly and candidates running for the National Assembly elections are facilitating in order to obtain many votes under the pretext of sending them as an entertainment paid trip for treatment abroad. They know that the state suffers from a weak budget and asks the National Assembly to approve obtaining debt in large sums amounting to billions of dinars.”
Meanwhile, Dr Youssef Al- Saqr said he believes preventing overseas medical treatment would cause a problem, considering that “what is required is to give a larger budget for treatment at home, and when citizens find this development, treatment abroad will automatically decrease. However, when they find the health services are below the required standards, they would prefer to travel abroad for treatment”.
He added that, “Due to the inability to travel during the COVID- 19 crisis, the state was forced to turn to local treatment. Doctors were brought in from Cuba. This is evidence of our need to develop the health system with its cadres before its buildings”. Dr Al-Saqr indicated that there are cases that need treatment abroad, especially cancer patients, adding that the hospitals in Kuwait are still in need of development