The Kuwaiti Ministry of Health has released a statement banning expats with certain diseases from becoming permanent residents in the country. Despite all of the diseases targeted being non-contagious, the government in Kuwait will deny residency to those living with the conditions.
The ban lists 22 diseases and includes a plethora of health issues. So far, the only declared diseases include diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, renal failure, herpes, AIDS, malaria, TB, hepatitis B and hepatitis G. Expats with vision problems, a squint, and high blood pressure will also not be permitted residency in Kuwait.
Why are Kuwait Banning Expats?
Expats already living in Kuwait are unsure if the residency ban will apply to them or just new arrivals. It is the first time Kuwait has banned expats from residency for any reason. Interestingly, this change stems from October 2017s Kuwaiti hike of expat public health fees. Due to the country’s weakening oil prices it appears Kuwait is targeting the health sector to gain back revenue. Banning residency for expats with certain diseases is likely a monetary ploy to lesson the strain on the national healthcare service, which offers all national citizens and permanent residents free or subsidised care.
Government officials in the country blamed Kuwait’s large population of expats (70% of the population) for the soaring public healthcare costs.
Is This a Human Rights Issue?
Given the nature of banning expats with certain diseases is likely to become a matter of concern for international human rights groups. According to non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch, migrant workers in Kuwait are vulnerable to abuse, forced labour, and deportation – and this advance is another kick in the face for the expat community. However, Kuwait are unlikely to take any notice from human rights organisations as a Ministry of Health official stated that the country is simply ensuring that expats coming into the country are ‘fit for work’.