MP Abdul-Hameed Dashti has forwarded parliamentary queries to Minister of Health, Ali Al- Obeidi. He wants to know why expatriates working in the public sector only have to undergo medical test for hepatitis and not those working in the private sector.
He explained the government through the Ministry of Health had issued a decision in 1997 to consider any person carrying or infected with antibodies to virus (B and C) cannot live or work in Kuwait. In 2010 the Ministry of Health asked the Cabinet according to the Health Ministry’s letter dated 6/5/2010 and No. 65 its opinion to consider an approval of recommendations of the committee formed by the Ministry of Health and the School of Medicine on the subject of laboratory tests for hepatitis (c) for expatriate workers, which was presented to the committee set up by the Cabinet.
He added on this ground a medical committee of doctors from the Ministry of Health and professors from the Faculty of Medicine was formed to adopt PCR analysis instead of analyzing antibodies for expatriate workers to detect the virus (C), which is no longer dependable in the detection of infection, as the antibodies are not indicative that a person is infected and the committee formed from the Ministry of Public Health, Doctors of the Faculty of Medicine, the Interior Ministry and the Fatwa and Legislation Department concluded that antibodies to virus (C) is not a disease, and therefore its analysis should not be adopted for expatriates.
He said the committee therefore recommended the adoption of PCR analysis for all old and new expatriates without exception to detect infection for a fee paid by the expatriate or sponsor. He said the Cabinet however issued a decision opposing the opinion of the medical committee based on the direction of the Ministry of Public Health to the Cabinet to adopt PCR test for some expatriate groups in the country under resolution No. 440 at its meeting No. 16 for the year 2011 held on 13/3/2011, while the rest of the expatriates undergo antibody analysis test. He said after this the Ministry of Health asked the Cabinet to apply PCR test for the virus (C) only for government employees and their families and the Cabinet issued its interpretative Decision No. 1368 at its meeting No. 246/2011 held on 25/9/2011, stressing this action contradicts Article (7) of Kuwaiti Constitution which states that (Justice, Liberty, and Equality are the pillars of society...) and also Article (29) which states that (All people are equal in human dignity and in public rights and duties before the law, without distinction to race, origin, language, or religion).
He said this also violates Article (26) on Internal Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) approved by the State of Kuwait which states that (All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equally an effective protection against discrimination on any ground...)
In his questions, Dashti want the minister to answer the following:
â– What are the medical and legal reasons for not adopting the decisions of the Medical Committee formed based on the request of the Ministry of Health for the Cabinet to adopt the results of PCR test for carriers of virus (C) instead of adopting the results of antibodies analysis of the virus (C) on all expats in the country, without exception?
â– Why did the Ministry of Health ask the Cabinet to apply PCR test only on expatriate in the government sector and not the workers in the private sector contrary to the direction issued by the committee formed by the Cabinet and in violation of the principle of equality approved by the Constitution as the relevant categories excluded are working in the private sector in state-owned companies, universities, banks and private companies, law firms and so on.
â– On using PCR analysis, the Cabinet’s decision said the expatriates should have resided in the country for (15 years), which is contrary to the preventive objective for which the decision is issued. So, what is the medical goal for determining that period and why is not adopted on all residents in the country for them to pay fees as recommended by the committee set up by the Cabinet at the request of the Ministry of Health.
â– What are the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control in America on the subject of antibodies to the carriers of the virus (C), which was based on judicial rulings, the committee formed by the Council of Ministers?
â– He has also asked for a copy of the letter issue by the Ministry of Defense under No. 14/7/2005 which states that people infected with hepatitis B found in residents and respective personnel at the ministry are healthy and fit.
â– What is the mechanism to be taken by the ministry to lift this injustice against expatriates as a result of arbitrary discrimination contained in the decision, and way to address this in light of the view expressed in the committee’s decision formed by the Ministry of Health and the College of Medicine as well as judicial rulings, references, global guidelines issued by the World Health Organization and the Center for Monitoring and Controlling Diseases in the United States referred to in the minutes of the Committee and the judicial rulings and care for the real sick people who carry the virus, and not contrary to human justice.