By Faten Omar
KUWAIT: Recently, the Health Ministry issued a new decision that requires expatriates, both residents and visitors, to pay fees for blood transfusions. According to the decision, expats in Kuwait will be charged KD 20 for each bag of blood, while foreigners on a visit visa will be charged KD 40. Kuwait Society for Human Rights (KSHR) said the Ministry of Health has disregarded, with this decision, international obligations that Kuwait has to uphold with regards to respect for human rights, including health rights, pursuing the highest level of healthcare and seeking to implement the right to healthcare through a non-discriminatory approach.
KSHR noted this decision targets cases that are in dire need of blood transfusion to save their lives, especially women in childbirth, and thus it violates what is stated in article 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which stipulates “States parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of healthcare in order to guarantee them, based on equality between men and women, access to healthcare services, including services related to family planning,” which is the agreement that Kuwait has committed to implement.
KSHR said Kuwait also violated article 12’s paragraph 1, which says everyone has a right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Kuwait also acceded in 1996 to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. “The decision also explicitly violated provision 4 of paragraph H of article 5 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which stipulates the right to enjoy public health services, medical care, social security and social services, which Kuwait ratified in 1968,” the society said.
Regarding health insurance, KSHR questioned the amount of insurance that residents pay annually when they renew their residency visas, especially given the increase in health fees and collection of additional fees for dispensing medicines, an increase of 250 percent in clinics and 100 percent in hospitals.
KSHR affirmed its rejection of discriminatory treatment between citizens and resident patients, as these decisions represent violations of health rights stipulated in international conventions and treaties. On the other hand, the society called for facilitating access to all health services and facilities, which are mainly characterized by four dimensions, non-discrimination, physical accessibility, affordability and access to information, in addition to canceling all its discriminatory decisions and studying decisions from the human rights perspective before issuing and implementing them.