Arab Times

Doctor treating people while ill

- By Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times Email: Follow me on: ahmedaljar­

IT IS no brainer that all countries of the world conform to the proverb “prevention is better than cure”. This is a proactive measure aimed to protect their societies from epidemics and diseases, and reduce the cost of hospitaliz­ation. However, it is surprising and shocking as well that this proverb has become “wasta is better than public money” in Kuwait due to the administra­tive corruption that permeates most ministries.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the cost of overseas medical treatment during nine months in 2018 amounted to $3.5 billion at a time when the budget of the Ministry of Health in the 2018/2019 fiscal year was two billion and 270 million dinars. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the crimes committed by MPs, government officials and influentia­l people through this corrupt utilizatio­n that has cost the state billions of dinars over the decades.

If we look at the budget of the Ministry of Health alone, it is equivalent to a state budget. Despite the presence of about 81 hospitals and health centers, as well as 18 hospitals owned by the private sector, the health sector in Kuwait continues to suffer from mismanagem­ent and corruption. Even though it led to the imprisonme­nt of a minister and an undersecre­tary, nothing has changed so far in this regard.

So, where is the defect? Why insist on focusing on electoral benefit? In light of this large health system, does Kuwait really need to have an overseas medical treatment program?

In all developed countries, and even in developing countries that seek to provide the best health care for the people, government­s have privatized the hospital sector, and imposed compulsory health insurance on citizens and expatriate­s. This is what Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and many other countries have done, and everyone in the region can see the progress of the health services in these countries.

In fact, the issue is no longer confined to medical tourism, as it has reached the point of damaging the country’s reputation abroad, after revelation­s concerning the health offices in Germany, France, Britain and the United States with the tampering of receipts and the filing of lawsuits against them.

Undoubtedl­y, nothing will change as long as the government uses this as a way to escape from parliament­ary accountabi­lity, and the MPs exploit it for their electoral interests. For this reason, “the pot” will continue to “leak”, and the doctor who treats people will remain ill.

In fact, the clash will intensify between the opposition MPs whose eyes are more on the gains than the interests of the country, and the government that is clinging to the stalemate, while the health of the people continues to be the most profitable commodity for both sides that have become masters in exploiting it.

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