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Saturday , March 25 2023

Sterile state’s bull

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MORE than 16,000 citizens are treated abroad annually at a cost of more than KD 1.37 billion. This is the highest percentage among the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. However, reports from the State Audit Bureau and lawsuits filed against employees in the overseas medical offices revealed a systematic looting being practiced there.
This happens despite the fact that the old saying – “A doctor medicating others while he is sick” applies in the State of Kuwait’s health sector. The state boasts of building the most luxurious hospitals, providing almost free treatments to citizens, and lavishing many countries in the world with medical facilities through grants and loans it provides.
The annual budget of the Ministry of Health ranges between KD 2.1 billion and KD 2.3 billion. This is the highest budget in the world in proportion to the population. Despite such a high budget, the medical infrastructure in the country has not witnessed any significant development. However, if there was a scientific and loyal administration, Kuwait, with those funds, would be the top country in the world in the medical field.

A country like Cuba, which has been under international sanctions since 1959, provides the best types of medical services for its citizens. It ranks first in the world in the field of exporting doctors abroad, which brings in more than USD 11 billion to the country. This is double the annual budget of Kuwait’s Ministry of Health.
Furthermore, Kuwait’s health sector records the highest rate of medical errors. In late May 2018, the country announced that overseas treatment will be a thing of the past in 2020 through the provision of the best medical services in the country. However, the promise fell short of becoming a reality after the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the absence of an epidemiological response plan.
During the pandemic, there were improvised decisions that led to the announcement of the longest closure in the world that lasted about 165 days, not to mention the corruption in the tenders that turned into “Ali Baba’s Cave” of looting of public money by importing quantities of medical supplies that exceed the country’s needs for future years. Some of them even expired before they were used.

The principle of full medical care in place for decades has proven its failure. Despite this care being suitable in the early days of the modern state in an effort to improve the living conditions of citizens in accordance with the principle of wealth distribution, today it has become a dilemma that threatens the continuity of the minimum limits of the welfare state. Therefore, it is necessary to get out of the cycle of irresponsible waste in the system that has proven to be a failure.

In many countries of the world, the medical sector is privatized. Companies work to establish medical cities, and hire the most skilled doctors, nurses and administrators. They even establish a prestigious health research system that becomes a pivotal point in the pharmaceutical and medical industries, as is the case in Britain, the United States of America, Canada, Germany and France.
Some Gulf countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have reduced the cost of treatment a lot. They ensure the provision of medical care for chronic diseases and incurable cases. The citizens there are obligated to have health insurance, along with the residents and visitors. This has turned those countries into destinations for medical services for the rest of the world.

There is an adage – “The state’s bull which does not fertilize”. Because of the absence of decision in Kuwait and the continuous submission to the profiteers and electoral interests, the state bull has become sterile and a source of corruption.
This means the continuation of working with “a torn bucket” and enduring wastage of wealth just to satisfy the profiteers because of the policy of favoritism and nepotism, which will continue to dominate Kuwait until Allah decides something that was already in effect.

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