|Racial Segregation ended decades ago but is coming back now in Kuwait!|
As the world fights for providing free health care to everyone regardless of their financial powers, nationalities, races, colors, religions, and/or gender, Kuwait is working now on creating 3 hospitals (with 300-beds-capacity for each) and 15 clinics to take care of 1.5 million expatriates and stateless people in the near future. Parliament members and the government have neglected the discriminatory nature of this project and responded to citizens’ complaints about waiting times when using health services. Many times, Kuwaitis, with the lack of awareness, talked openly that they should not be waiting in ‘their hospitals’ because of the long line ups of expatriates. Thus, parliament members, with their motivation to guarantee more votes to stay in the game box, have passed this scandalous project.
The project aims to build three hospitals with a capacity of 300 beds each and with land area of 50,000 square meters for two and 36,000 square meters for the third. These hospitals will provide integrated medical services even dispensing of some drugs. This will cost 130 KD in the first two years, 150 KD for the third and forth, 170 KD for the fifth and sixth, 180 KD for the seventh and eighth, and 190 KD for the ninth and tenth. This proves that this project is a financial failure for Kuwait as those few centers will not be able to provide 1.5 million people with good health services including surgeries.
Kuwait's plan to create a separate health system for expatriates will introduce a physical barrier to the already existing behavioral and financial obstacles suffered by the nation's most destitute populations. Evidently, this concept does not stem from existing health policy evidence. Rather it has been formulated by policy-makers seeking a rapid, "band-aid" solution to the nationals' concerns over overcrowding in healthcare facilities. Segregation of health services is already seen in Kuwait. Separations are enforced in primary care clinics and in certain intensive care units. The proposed for-profit health maintenance organization (HMO) also introduces an unsuccessful model based on the free market approach. In our poorly regulated environment, and based on past experience with healthcare privatization, we anticipate abuses, which will further negatively impact the customers of this system. Contrary to the way this has been marketed by its proponents, this scheme is in obvious violation of basic human rights, is not financially viable, and will not result in high quality services.
Two weeks ago, a lecture entitled “Racist Segregation Hospitals” was held in Kuwait Transparency Society to condemn this project and demand terminating it. The speakers said the project is a shameful mark in Kuwait’s history and is very much a racist project in a country that is known of its civil bodies and establishments. They found it nothing but a commercial project the government offered to companies robbing national funds. Speakers also emphasized that this can be considered, according to international laws, a project of racist segregation. They called on parliament members to be considerate of non-kuwaitis who have rights, as the constitution guarantees quality to all, and to stop this project that will be bad for Kuwait’s reputation internationally.
Columnist Dr. Sajed Al-Abdali wrote about the project and spoke in the lecture saying this project will offer 2 to 6 for each 10,000 non-Kuwaitis. He wondered why isn’t the money of this project injected into reforming health services. Salma Al-Essa, from Kuwait’s association of transparency, assured the racist nature of this project. She also asked why isn’t the report of World Bank regarding this project still not published, if it exists, and added that there are no guarantees that the project will function well especially that it will not be under observation.
Dr. Amer Al-Tamimi from Kuwaiti Human Rights Association said this project is an economical failure as it will cost 130 million Kuwaiti Dinars and this amount of money should not be invested in such a project that will harm Kuwait’s reputation of human rights. Al-Tamimi said: “do not expect this project to offer all services. This will surely not include treatment of psychological problems, kidney failure, treatment of war damages and permanent diseases.”
Fawaz Farhan was the only medic present in the lecture and he said: “it is unfortunate that the medical association is not hosting this project.” Farhan said that racism already exists in hospitals as non-kuwaitis do not get any medicine as citizens do and also because they are paying fees for each visit and tests needed. Farhan also said that racist segregation already exists in some clinics. He described the project saying “They want steal the money of non-kuwaitis to practice racism against them!”
Kuwait is taking a suicidal step by executing this project which has been cooked in the past few years. This will definitely take the country into a serious crisis as 1.5 million people will be forced to use facilities that cannot logically be able to provide them with good health services. Segregating people based on their nationalities can pen the country with the most famous scandals in the new century.