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Medical tourism legislators … what a joke!!

Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

THE Medical Board’s protest against parliamentary interference was the final blow to the regulated corruption of the representatives of the people who entrusted them with their future, institutions and welfare.

Instead, these representatives decided to turn their backs on such a responsibility and commit violations which are unimaginable even to the most corrupt individuals in the banana republic; let alone a country like Kuwait that is considered a State of institutions flooded with rhetoric on reforms, anti-corruption and ending the squandering of the public fund.

We do not exaggerate if we say that parliamentary influence in the Ministry of Health has burdened Kuwait with hospital debts in several countries, up to the extent that a single scandal of squandering this kind of public fund reached about 400 million euros.

If this money was allocated for building hospitals in the country and seeking the services of world-class doctors from outside, Kuwait would have transformed into an international hub for advanced medical tourism.

Unfortunately, this is happening at a time countries with lesser and limited economy than Kuwait became impressive in the aspect of medical advancement while Kuwait continues to retrogress. In fact, the rate of medical malpractices increased up to the point of absolute lack of confidence in local treatment.

Indeed, MPs are interfering in medical affairs. It is not a secret that a former MP sent 1,100 members of his clique to European countries for tourism under the cover of overseas treatment.

Two years ago, the number of Kuwaitis and their companions who traveled for this purpose at the expense of the government reached 12,000.

The strange aspect of this overseas treatment fiasco is that beneficiaries get sick during summer and they undergo ‘treatment’ in countries listed as international tourist destinations.

The Medical Board’s protest should be a turning point. It should not be subject to anything outside the law, such as settlements behind closed doors in a bid to sweep the issue under the carpet.

This is a great opportunity to implement reforms. Everyone should consider it as the first step towards curbing wastage of funds in this vital sector.

Perhaps, this will open the lid of electoral blackmail in the ministry which is supposed to be responsible for everyone’s health as per the noble verse in the Holy Quran: “…whoso slays a soul not to retaliate for a soul slain, nor for corruption done in the land, shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether; and whoso gives life to a soul, shall be as if he has given life to mankind altogether…”

The MPs interfering in this issue should also realize that their interference kills a soul unjustly, because they are preventing a deserving sick person from receiving overseas treatment; while a healthy person is referred for treatment abroad in return for his vote.

In other countries, the State supervises medical services and there is insurance for citizens; while the private sector is in charge of treatment. But this is not the practice in Kuwait where the public treasury is burdened with losses because no one stands against parliamentary interference and influence.

The Health Ministry should be decisive in addressing the issue and defending itself without fear of parliamentary inquiry or malicious interpellation. It should work in accordance with a Kuwaiti adage: “Do not steal, do not be afraid.”

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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