Is Paracetamol the only drug
made for Kuwait expatriates?
By Chidi Emmanuel, Staff Writer
Is Paracetamol the only medicine made for the expatriates in Kuwait hospitals and clinics despite our KD 50 yearly medical insurance?" Ahmed Abdullah, a disenchanted Egyptian expatriate, queried in dismay as he narrated his ordeal at Farwaniya hospital. "The last time I came here, I was given Paracetamol and Cephalexin and the doctor told me to come back after four days if the health problem continues. After four days, I came back to this same hospital, and I was given the same prescription (Paracetamol and Cephalexin) by another doctor. All my efforts to explain to him were in vain," Abdullah said. Abdullah's disappointment is echoed by almost all the expatriates interviewed in this report.
Rahul, an Indian expatriate, could not contain his anger as he narrated his ordeal with a doctor at a Salmiya clinic. "I doubt if he is really a doctor. What I told him and the prescription he gave me doesn't match in anyway," he said as he clutched a strip of Paracetamol and other liquid drugs he claimed were given to him on the doctor's prescription. "Even though I'm not a doctor, I know Paracetamol and eye drops have nothing to do with the chronic stomach pain I am having. This is why we (Indians) prefer to go home for our medical checkups. Some of the doctors here are really horrible," he lamented. "He was not even interested in what I was explaining to him. He was busy computing on the desktop. Before I could finish, he just handed me the prescription. I told him I have not finished. He said I should go to the pharmacy. Here I am with the drugs he prescribed," angry Rahul said.
Gali Odey also recounted how he was given an eye drop when he complained of an ear problem. "I think there was a communication barrier in my case. Some of them (doctors) don't understand English. Over the years, I have seen some of the best doctors in this country as well as some of the worst. I am not in a position to judge them but I blame the lack of understanding and communication for most of the complications," he added.
Years after the implementation of the new health insurance law, expatriates are crying foul over the kind of treatment they receive at Kuwait hospitals and clinics. "The health insurance was welcomed by the expatriates with a promise of a better medical care, but to no avail. I don't see any difference between then and now. In this oil-rich country, we are still being given prescriptions to go and buy drugs that cost less than KD 5. It is awful," Tina Cole, an Indian expatriate said as she showed Kuwait Times one of her prescriptions from Sabah hospital.
You need to be patient if you are a patient in Kuwait's hospitals and clinics. Apart from the KD 50 (for adults) health insurance per year, you will still pay KD 1 or KD 2 (stamp) whenever you go to the clinic or hospital respectively. The most annoying aspect is the long queue. Sometimes I wonder where the KD 50 medical insurance has gone," Gamal Ahmed, an Egyptian teacher wondered. Some health officials who spoke on condition of anonymity told Friday Times that there have been a series of complaints on these issues.
Kuwait has a very sophisticated medical system. Kuwaiti citizens enjoy one of the most comprehensive welfare systems in the world. The small populations and high GDP allow GCC nations to fund the welfare of their people without needing to impose many financial obligations upon them. Kuwaitis are provided with extensive state help, including medical care, sickness and maternity cover, treatment abroad, child care benefits and in some instances housing and disability benefits. Although expatriates have access to medical facilities, there are obvious limitations - including Paracetamol prescriptions.