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Tuesday , September 17 2019

Expats accused of hoarding medicines for sale abroad – Mandatory health insurance on visit visa

Al-Hashem counts 621,000 visitors in 2018 here for medical services

National Assembly session on Tuesday.

KUWAIT CITY, March 5: The National Assembly, in its ordinary session Tuesday, approved the bill on mandatory health insurance for foreigners visiting the country; hoping this will spur development in the health sector with 47 MPs voting in favor while four voted against and one abstained.

During the session, MPs voiced their concern over the supposed mismanagement in the Ministry of Health; claiming this has encouraged some foreigners to take advantage of the lack of regulations and supervision.

MP Safaa Al-Hashem said 621,000 visitors entered the country in 2018 just to avail medical services; hence, the need for this legislation. MP Yousef Al-Fadala pointed out that foreigners hoard medicines which are then taken to their home countries to be distributed to their families or sold in their pharmacies. Other MPs attributed the problem to lack of regulations and slow development at the ministry.

They said there is no vision for health sector development as progress is seen only in new buildings and facilities while medical services remain the same. “Citizens no longer trust healthcare in the country,” asserted MP Saleh Ashour. He added most citizens prefer to undergo treatment abroad instead of doing so in the comfort of their homeland. The Health Affairs Committee’s report on the bill stated that it will bring financial returns and provide better medical care for foreigners.

However, MP Adnan Abdulsamad argued that talks on increasing State revenues by requiring visitors to obtain health insurance are flawed and incorrect. He believes there are a number of other ways to increase revenues, such as collecting a large amount from health insurance companies which have legal disputes with the ministry.

Furthermore, the Assembly recommended MPs Safaa Al- Hashem, Naser Al-Dousiri and Mohammed Al-Dalaal as members of the Women’s Affairs Committee; separating it from the Human Rights Committee because women’s affairs are broad. Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim affirmed the Human Rights Committee retains its seven members, clarifying that changing it into a permanent committee as per the request of MPs requires amendment of parliamentary internal regulations. Additionally, the Assembly approved the State Audit Bureau’s (SAB) request to extend the deadline until end of March for completion of its tasks as per the directive of the legislature. These tasks include reviewing and analyzing financial, technical and legal aspects of the maintenance of highways, roads, waterways and sewage lines.

By Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff

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