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MP Al-Azmi slams govt over health services deterioration Finmin queried over firms in which KIA owns shares

 KUWAIT CITY, March 19: “The health sector has been suffering from a number of serious illnesses that require immediate treatment in order to cover the needs of citizens, instead of using painkillers and relying on donations,” says MP Hamdan Al-Azmi.

In a press statement Wednesday, Al-Azmi stressed the need to develop health services and facilities. He pointed out there are enough human and material resources for the country to push ahead with the construction of new hospitals and specialized health centers to better serve the public, while taking into consideration the growing population.

Al-Azmi criticized the government for its alleged negligence which led to the deterioration of health services. He said the State earmarks a budget of more than KD1.25 billion every year to address various health issues, “but we have not seen new hospitals in the country since 1981. Most health centers were established through donations, yet the Kuwait Development Fund has played a major role in the construction of hundreds of modern hospitals in many countries. “ He also emphasized the importance of solving several problems in the health sector, specially the public hospitals.

He cited as examples the long waiting period for appointments in these hospitals, lack of medicines, poor administration due to the failure of the Health Department to play an efficient role in hospitals and health centers, crowded clinics, and delayed surgery schedules. He added there are a number of challenges in terms of developing the health sector; such as the absence of practical and integrated strategy, as well as the rising number of people diagnosed with diabetes, heart diseases and malignant tumors. He lamented the substandard health services is not a new phenomenon, since the lawmakers and ordinary citizens have been clamoring for better medical services and facilities for quite a long time. He affirmed the people have also called for reconsideration of the demographic structure, because a bigger population means more pressure on public services.

Meanwhile, MP Abdul Kareem Al-Kandari has forwarded questions to Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh on the companies in which the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) owns shares. He explained the rationale behind these questions is the stipulation in Article 17 of the Constitution that public funds are sacred and every citizen is duty-bound to protect these funds. He wants to know which companies are fully-owned by the State and those where 50 percent or more of the shares are owned by KIA, Public Institution for Social Security, Secretariat General of Awqaf Foundation, Public Authority for Minors Affairs and Kuwait Petroleum Corporation.

He also inquired how the Ministry of Finance determines the rental value of State properties with companies fully-owned by the government or those where it owns 50 percent of the shares or more. On the proposed amendment to the Constitution, MP Abdul Hameed Dashti asserted this will allow increasing the number of MPs from 50 to 70 to broaden parliamentary and popular participation. He argued this step is necessary because of the widespread corruption in many government institutions. He said this will also pave the way for increasing the number of Cabinet members, considering that some ministers hold more than one portfolio and this practice has resulted in flaws and spread of corruption.

On the other hand, MP Adnan Abdulsamad disagreed with his colleague; indicating this is not the right time to amend the Constitution. He believes it is better to ensure the proper implementation of the provisions of the Constitution than to revise it, since a number of articles have yet to be implemented. Asked about the proposal to increase the number of ministers, Abdulsamad asserted this is unnecessary. “The number of our ministers is double that of some European countries. What we need to do is to activate the role of some constituencies,” he concluded.


By: Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff

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