Kuwait expats health services fees review could lead to an increase of prices

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KUWAIT CITY, Aug 12: The parliamentary Health Affairs Committee has postponed taking a final decision regarding the shortage of medicines issue, as it intends to evaluate the information it has received so far and then present recommendations to the National Assembly. Parliamentary sources said the Ministry of Health issued contradictory statements, as it sometimes confirmed the shortage of medicines due to circumstances beyond its control; especially the disruption of the global supply chain and lack of raw materials.

Sometimes, it called for a description other than ‘shortage’; given that shortage from the ministry’s point of view is the inability to provide patients with the needed medicines – whether the basic medicines or alternatives – which is refuted by the reassuring strategic medicine stock, sources revealed. Sources added the ministry reassured the committee of its seriousness in continuing to enhance drug security according to short and long-term plans, and to supply the strategic stock from multiple sources to avoid interruption in the event that international circumstances interfere with the export of medicines in order to cover the country’s needs.

Sources disclosed that the previous meetings, including the one held last week, tackled the approach of the ministry to limit the wastage of medicines through automatic linking or imposing new fees for medicines given to expatriates in different health centers. Sources said this contributed to rationalizing expenditures, indicating the ministry officials expect more control over spending on medicines and treatment after studying, evaluating and reviewing the fees for various health services provided to expatriates. In an official statement, the ministry pointed out that the health system is not really going through a shortage of medicines; considering the lack of supply for global reasons.

According to the ministry, Minister of Health Dr Ahmed Al-Awadi attended the meeting of the Health Affairs Committee when it discussed the global shortage of medicines issue. It pointed out that several countries, including those in Europe and America, are suffering from shortage of medicines for several reasons – the most important of which is the disruption of the global supply chain, shortage of raw materials and consequences of the Corona pandemic.

Meanwhile, reliable sources said that studying, evaluating and reviewing the fees for health services provided to expatriates could actually lead to a price hike. Sources explained this process is delaying the operation of Daman hospitals and implementation of the health insurance law for visitors, which includes reviewing the value of insurance for the segment that continues to use services in the government sector. The Health Insurance Hospitals Company (Daman) announced the completion of its facilities in February with the readiness to build Jahra and Ahmadi hospitals, as well as five primary health care centers. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company Thamer Arab revealed at the time: “We have completed the buildings necessary for operation … Jahra Hospital is a qualitative addition to the sector and its infrastructure.”

Earlier, the Ministry of Health confirmed that most countries of the world suffer from a shortage of medicines for several reasons, the most important of which is the disruption of the global supply chain and the shortage of raw materials, in addition to the consequences of the Corona pandemic crisis, reports Al-Rai daily. The Ministry stated during the Parliamentary Health and Social Affairs Committee, which was held in the presence of the Minister of Health, Dr. Ahmed Al-Awadi, that what the health system is going through is not a shortage as much as it is a lack of supply for global reasons.

The ministry stressed it is exerting all efforts to overcome all difficulties to enhance drug security and provide drug alternatives by developing quick and short plans in addition to long-term solutions to avoid any defect in the future, as she requested an exception from the tender law to double contracting with drug suppliers, and increasing contracts, to provide all the requirements for that. For its part, the Kuwait Medical Association, which participated in the meeting, called for activating and expanding the oversight role on drug suppliers and distributors and tightening penalties for anyone who tampers with drug security. By Raed Youssef and Marwa Al-Bahrawi Al-Seyassah/Arab Times Staff and Agencies

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