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‘Prevent ill peoples entry’ ‘Protect citizens, expats health’

According to Al-Watan Arabic daily “the government terminated the services of 2,233 expatriate employees and sent them back to their countries in 2013 as they were found to be medically unfit, quoting a source in the Ministry of Health (see Arab Times Jan 8, 2014).

It is expected that a government should do its best to protect the health of its citizens and expatriate population. However, what is illogical regarding what constitutes a health scare is for a government to allow in the first place those who are medically unfit to enter the country.

The Health Ministry’s official, reportedly quoted by the Arabic daily, explains further that “the government did not renew the visas of those employees because 171 of them tested positive for AIDS, 495 (265 male and 230 female) have hepatitis C, 670 (438 male and 238 female) have hepatitis B, 35 (30 male and 5 female) suffered from malaria, and 862 (424 male and 438 female) have tuberculosis”! Those deported expats contracted AIDS, hepatitis B, C and malaria in Kuwait or they were already “medically unfit” before they arrived in the country! In both cases, the government is at fault because it should have applied the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of diseases in Kuwait.

For example, every expat is supposed to have obtained, while in their home country, medical reports detailing their medical history. They would need such medical documents to process their visa applications from Kuwaiti embassies abroad. Therefore, those who arrived and entered Kuwait, already suffering from AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis, either did not produce genuine medical reports or their medical tests were not processed professionally in our Kuwaiti consulates abroad.

The government, especially the Ministry of Health, can protect the health of citizens and expats by getting things right the first time. In other words, we as expats and citizens have the right not be scared out of our wits by hearing about the “sudden and unexpected” spread of a particular epidemic or diseases in Kuwait! Even if the government succeeds in coordinating its automated system of medical tests with GCC countries, similar problems may arise perhaps due to lack of professionalism in implementing medical tests on expats.

Protecting the health of citizens and expatriates in Kuwait begins with the development of an effective and an efficient system of medical tests in Kuwait. What is ironic regarding the deportation of medically unfit expats is that their cases were not detected earlier by health officials in Kuwait; while they were living and working in the country.

These individuals might have in advertently spread infectious diseases they suffer from by simply mingling with any crowd. In fact, I do not think that the government is serious enough in its supposed bid to protect the health of citizens and expatriates. At least, it would have set up temporary quarantine facilities to isolate those with infectious diseases.

By: Khaled Aljenfawi

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