Comprehensive health services are available
in Kuwait from both public and private health care providers.
These services are regulated by the Ministry of Public Health
Primary health care is provided by a network
of clinics and polyclinics, which are usually found in community
centres, often near the local co-op supermarket. These clinics
deal with preliminary examinations and routine matters and,
where necessary, patients are referred to hospital specialists.
Clinics Timing & Charges
As From July 2001 the Ministry clinics will be open from
7:00 am to2:00 pm and from 4:00 pm to 11 pm and will be
closed in the afternoons between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm.
Expatriates, bedouns (stateless persons), and
children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis have to
pay KD 1 and KD 2 for clinics and hospitals if they have
the health insurance. Without health insurance they will
have to pay KD 5 and KD 10.
Insurance coverage exempts expatriates from
paying daily inpatient charges when they receive medical
treatment in hospitals, in addition to exemption from charges
of medical operations, pharmaceuticals, and laboratory analysis
and X-ray. They also receive 50% subsidy on specialised
tests and analysis such as CT-Scan, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance,
Sonar and hormonal analysis.
Surgeries are held in the mornings (8am to
1pm) and evenings (4pm to 7pm). Home visits are not available
under the public health system.
Kuwait is divided into five Health Regions. Each region
has a general hospital, the Amiri Hospital in Kuwait City,
Jahra Hospital in Jahra, Farwaniyah Hospital in Farwaniyah,
Mubarak Al-Kabir Hospital in Jabriya, and Adan Hospital
in Reqqa (about 5km from Fahaheel). Each general hospital
provides a full outpatients service and 24-hour emergency
The country also has a comprehensive range
of specialist hospitals, covering chest and heart diseases,
neurosurgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, burns,
cancers, radiology, nephrology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology,
physiotherapy, and psychiatry. Most of these are concentrated
in an area stretching along or near to Gamal Abdul Nasser
Street in west Shuwaikh (going towards Sulaibikhat).
Under its 4-year plan to 2003, the MPH will
be establishing new health centres in Qurain and Sabahiya,
and expanding the psychiatric hospital. New specialist centres
will be set up with funds donated by the private sector,
including the Khaled Al-Nafisi Renal Dialysis Centre and
a Paediatric Centre (sponsored by NBK), both in Sabah Hospital,
as well as new Ear, Nose and Throat Centre (sponsored by
Hospital Visiting Hours
Hospital visiting hours vary and are normally restricted
to the afternoon. The number of visitors to a patient allowed
during visiting hours is not usually limited, though sometimes
when things get extremely crowded only two visitors at a
time are allowed in together.
Health Care Charges
Kuwaitis receive medical services at government clinics
and hospitals free of charge. Before 1994 expatriates were
entitled to free medical services but now they must pay
for certain procedures as well as prosthetic items.
Neither Kuwaitis nor expatriates are charged
for medications obtained from pharmacies in public hospitals
and clinics on prescription from a hospital doctor, provided
the patient's civil ID card number is shown on the prescription.
However a doctor may no longer provide about 80 expensive
drugs for expatriates, though an expatriate patient can
always ask the doctor for a prescription and then buy the
From 10th April, 2000 health insurance was
made mandatory for expatriates. No residence is renewed
unless the premium for health insurance is paid and the
renewal period is also linked to the period of health insurance
coverage (details covered in Chapter - 3). Expatriates holding
health insurance from local private insurance companies
will be allowed to renew their residence for the period
of validity of the insurance. However, for holders of private
insurance, the Ministry will charge KD 4 for each visit
to health clinic besides the one dinar charge. They will
also have to pay for medicine, laboratory tests and radiology
scans. Visit to the outpatient clinic will cost KD 6, stay
at public hospital KD 10 per day, KD 80 per day at an intensive
care unit and KD 5 per day for stay at a psychiatric hospital.
Expatriates covered by private insurance companies will
also have to pay KD 10 per visit to a birth registration
clinic. The charge for normal delivery is KD 200 inclusive
of a three day stay at a hospital. Any overstay will cost
KD.10 per day.
Some of the primary care polyclinics include
dental units. There are also six public dental clinics in
the country. The main one is behind the Amiri Hospital in
Sharq. Under the MPH's 4-year plan to 2003, new dental clinics
are to be established at Jahra and Farwaniya.
Though Kuwaitis are entitled to a full range
of services, the range of dental procedures available to
expatriates is restricted to cleaning, scaling, and root
canal and tooth extraction. To avail of special dental services,
such as having a permanent bridge or crown installed, expatriates
must attend a private dental clinic at their own expense.
Despite the excellent comprehensive services
provided by the public health service, private hospitals
and clinics thrive in Kuwait. The MPH regulates standards
and the fees they may charge. The private hospitals and
clinics have their own pharmacies. Most of them are general
hospitals with some specialist departments. Some have limited
equipment, such as ICUs, or specialists and refer patients
to government hospitals for special procedures.
Private clinics are usually staffed by doctors
of a particular speciality. There are several private dentists
and dental clinics providing services to international standards.
Orthodontics are only available to expatriates through these
dentists and clinics.
The Ministry of Health has approved the applications
of 35 private companies to set up private hospitals in Kuwait.
A decision is also issued allowing cooperative societies,
private hospitals and Kuwaiti doctors to open private clinics
for general practice in residential areas.
Private Medical Insurance
Medical insurance, from companies such as Expacare, BUPA
and ARIG, can be bought in Kuwait. Local group insurance
often requires a minimum of 15 persons, with an annual premium
of about KD75 per person for a cover of KD5,000 for both
inpatient and outpatient treatment with an excess of 20%.
For individuals there are some local medical insurance schemes
(about KD125 per year) but the cover provided, the exclusions
and age limits sometimes leave a lot to be desired.
All areas have pharmacies. Some of the smaller
pharmacies do not stock a full range of medicines. But in
each major area --- Kuwait City, Hawalli & Nugra, Salmiya
& Rumaithiya, Fahaheel & Ahmadi, Kheitan & Farwaniyah
--- at least one major pharmacy stays open all night. These
late night openings are rotated, and the particular pharmacy,
its opening night and telephone number are shown daily in
Requirements for prescriptions are no less
stringent than in Europe and North America. Though the contraceptive
pill is available over-the-counter, many items freely available
in Europe and the USA require a prescription in Kuwait,
and indeed tranquillisers may only be prescribed by consultants
with a special prescription. The prices of all medicines
are fixed by the MPH and all pharmacies must, by law, charge
the same prices.
All the public hospitals have maternity wards.
The public Al-Sabah Maternity Hospital, located
just off Gamal Abdul Nasser Street in west Shuwaikh, provides
a comprehensive range of antenatal, delivery and postnatal
care and is probably one of the best maternity hospitals
in the world. Al-Sabah Maternity is equipped with state-of-the-art
technology, including more than a hundred ICUs, and a highly
trained and dedicated indigenous and expatriate staff.
The private hospitals also offer maternity
care. All hospitals require sight of a couple's marriage
certificate for their records.
The big white building housing the blood bank
(tel: 533 9511) is situated in front of Mubarak Al-Kabeer
Hospital in Jabriya near to the 4th Ring Road flyover at
the end of Tunis Street. Equipped with the latest technology,
it supplies blood to local public and private hospitals.
Donors are always welcome, and may receive
a small fee in appreciation. Relatives of those undergoing
operations are required to make donations to conserve supplies.
Kuwait does not suffer from a lack of opticians.
Sight tests are usually free and prices for prescription
lens fairly reasonable. Common corrective lens are available
from stock and new glasses can be delivered within 48 hours.
Many of the opticians have their own workshops for grinding
lenses and persons with complicated prescriptions no longer
have to wait several weeks for lens to arrive from overseas.
There are many top surgeons in the country specialising
in cataract removal and corrective vision procedures.
When an expatriate dies his or her embassy
should be advised without delay. The police should also
be notified. Formal identification of the body is made by
next of kin, the deceased's sponsor or company representative.
The body should be taken to a coroner's office.
These are attached to the mortuaries in public hospitals.
The coroner will undertake a postmortem examination and
establish the cause of death. The postmortem will include
a full autopsy where the corpse is that of a foreigner,
or death has resulted from an accident, or there is a suggestion
of foul play. A death report is issued by the coroner, which
must be taken to the Central Registry for Births & Deaths
to have a death certificate issued. There is no charge for
the death certificate.
Once the death certificate has been issued,
burial is immediate unless the corpse is required as an
exhibit in a court case. Burial may take place in a municipal
graveyard. There are also several expatriate graveyards
in Kuwait. Burials are free. Cremation is not allowed.
If the corpse needs to be repatriated to the
deceased's country of origin, this is best left to a major
forwarding agent who can handle all the formalities. A properly
lined coffin which will preserve the body during the voyage
costs from KD250 upwards. The postmortem report and the
death certificate attested by both the Ministries of Health
and Foreign Affairs, as well as a police clearance certificate,
are required to enable the body to leave Kuwait.
The deceased's passport will need to be handed
over to his or her embassy for cancellation. The embassy
may also issue a death certificate based on the Kuwaiti
death certificate, autopsy report and police report, which
may be required by the deceased insurers.