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One of my trusted relatives told me what happened recently to a domestic helper in the house of his disabled elderly mother.
He said he had received a phone call from his mother’s housemaid who said she was stuck in the clinic in their area and wanted to go home. She has been sick for four days, but she did not receive any treatment in the clinic.
He then sent his own driver to take the housemaid to his mother’s house. When the driver returned, the driver told him why the housemaid did not receive treatment in the clinic, hearing which he was shocked.
The driver said the reception staff at the clinic asked her for a consultation fee of KD 1 but when she handed them KD 1 in cash, they refused to accept it. They insisted that the payment be made by a bank card. She kept telling them that she did not have a card, but they replied that this was her problem.
Here we ask His Excellency the Minister of Health regarding the reason behind such an unreasonable decision. We do not protest against the fee of KD 1, but rather that the payment should be made with a bank card. It is rare for a housemaid, a servant or a driver to carry that magic card.
The staff asked why the employer does not give the person who works for him a personal bank card so that he can receive treatment in the clinics of the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Health, which tormented us during the COVID-19 pandemic, does not believe that its employees will receive KD 1 from a non-Kuwaiti patient, out of fear that its employee will keep that dinar. So how can anyone ask us to give our bank cards, which contain tens of thousands of dinars, to our domestic workers?!
My relative said his driver confirmed the incident, which is in violation of not only human rights but even animal rights. Is it not the right of the person who cleans your house, cooks your food, washes your clothes, gives you medicine, etc?
The driver told my relative that he went four times to the area’s clinic, and the receptionist took KD 1 from him, as that employee thankfully used his own bank card.
On two other occasions, the employee refused to give the driver a token to meet the doctor, as he insisted on the payment of the consultation fee of KD 1 using a credit card.
I inquired about this issue – something that only happens in Kuwait – from my account manager in a large bank. He told me that it is correct, adding that the Ministry of Health used to accept from servants a prepaid card, in which a minimal amount is deposited, but the ministry recently has been insisting that the domestic worker should pay for treatment by a bank card.
Unfortunately, most of them do not have a bank card because they send their money to their families immediately after receiving their salaries.
This is information that we repeat once again to our active health minister so that a solution can be found to this simple problem that afflicts our domestic workers.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil