KUWAIT: There is an indication which suggests a crisis is looming at the Ministry of Health hospitals because nearly 1,300 male and female nurses — stateless and Ethiopians — have threatened to organize a sit-in and go on strike if their demands are not met. They are demanding payment on time and to be treated on par with their colleagues.
According to a complaint filed by the Ethiopian embassy with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, about 300 nurses are not paid their salaries for the past three months. According to the nurses they are brought into the country by a company which has a contract with the Ministry of Health. They also say they resorted to their embassy because the company violated the terms and conditions of the contract. In the same context, and in conjunction with the problem of the Ethiopian nurses, about one thousand of ‘stateless’ male and female nurses have threatened to go on strike. They are protesting the delay in payment of their salaries.
The nurses have requested the ministry to treat them on par with their colleagues in the same profession, stressing their salaries do not exceed KD 400, while some of their colleagues earn as much as KD 800.
KUWAIT: MP Hussein Quwaian has asked Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior Sheikh Mohammed Khalid Al-Sabah to provide him with information on the traffic violations punishable by imprisonment and deportation. The lawmaker wants to know if there is any legal basis for the deportation of expatriates who violate traffic regulations.
He demanded a detailed report in this regard, including the number of violations recorded from Jan 1, 2013 till date; violations punishable by detention and the number of people detained; reasons for confiscating vehicles; and procedures for retrieving confiscated vehicles during ordinary days and holidays. He also inquired if any person, whose mother is a Kuwaiti, has been deported.
In another development, Quwaian submitted questions to State Minister for Cabinet Affairs and Health Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Abdullah Al- Sabah on the budget allocated for the emergency plan in the event of a US military strike on Syria. He requested a copy of the minutes of the meetings of the Central Emergencies Committee and its subcommittees, as well as the names of the Medical Emergency Committee members.
He wants to know if an auditor was appointed to look into the expenditures related to the plan. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Priorities Team held its second meeting Wednesday in the presence of State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Minister of Planning and Development Dr Rola Dashti. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Chairman of the team MP Ali Omair disclosed they discussed 24 priorities of the government; most of which are under the parliamentary Financial and Economic Affairs Committee as they are related to government projects like tenders, Audit Bureau and State properties. He added the committee discussed the possibility of removing 24 old priorities from the agenda for the 26 sessions in the next legislative round. He said the team will remove these priories within the next two days or after comparing them with the new priorities presented by the MPs and committees.
He revealed the government also demanded for the removal of draft bills included in the parliamentary agenda many years ago, since they are no longer considered priorities. He went on to say the team stressed the need for the government to present its program for fiscal 2013/2014 to check if it matches the authority’s priorities; indicating the team stressed that it is pointless to talk about priorities without the government program. According to Omair, there is no huge difference between priorities of the government and the Parliament and both have agreed on the need to prioritize the Public Telecommunications Authority Bill. On bureaucracy or delay in processing official documents and transactions, Al- Omair pointed out the government must focus on two issues — the tenders bill and Audit Bureau — in order to address the problem.
For her part, Dashti disclosed the team will meet again on Sunday to tackle the timetable and include the priorities in the agenda for the upcoming parliamentary sessions. She said the team has approved, in principle, the government-parliament priorities. On the other hand, Rapporteur of Financial and Economic Affairs Committee MP Faisal Al-Kandari on Wednesday agreed to postpone until next week the approval of the proposed amendments to the Kuwait Airways Corporation privatization and BOT bills. He said the committee will discuss the government’s views on the bills in its upcoming meeting.
Moreover, MP Abdullah Al-Tamimi submitted a proposal on the establishment of a governmental inspection and monitoring authority to act as general supervisor for the executive authority. He said the authority’s functions include documenting and monitoring the government’s work. Al-Tamimi clarified the Civil Service Commission (CSC) is supposed to carry out this task but it has failed in this regard; hence, the need to establish the authority to ensure that the government executes its plans and stop irregularities in its departments. He added the authority will consist of five directors, headed by a general inspector with the rank minister, and it will employ Kuwaiti legal and technical experts
650 traffic citations issued: The Traffic Regulation Section at the Capital Traffic Department carried out a traffic campaign; resulting in the issuance of 300 citations for direct violations, 350 for indirect violations, confiscation of 41 vehicles and arrest of two persons who were put under the custody of Traffic Section Head Lieutenant Colonel Meshal Al-Hajraf for 48 hours, reports Al-Seyassah daily. The Traffic Sector confirmed that the campaigns will continue round the clock to protect road users and guarantee strict compliance with the laws. On the other hand, the Media Information Department reaffirmed the continuation of its public awareness campaign in all sectors through various media forms.
By: Abubakar A. Ibrahim and Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staf
Kuwait: Seven people were summoned as potential suspects in arson cases reported in two Salmiya mosques Tuesday and in which perpetrators set copies of the Holy Quran on fire. According to sources familiar with the ongoing investigation, the men who are of expatriate nationalities were referred for fingerprinting after their descriptions matched those provided by an eyewitness who told police that he saw three people enter one of the mosques and exit later before the fire started.
KUWAIT: Sabah Al-Salem police arrested a man who left a stateless resident in a critical condition during a fight two weeks ago. The search for the Kuwaiti man had been ongoing ever since he stabbed his foe in the chest and abdomen ‘to settle old disputes’ according to the victim, who said that the fight happened after they ran into each other accidentally in Sabah Al-Salem. Police arrested the man Saturday night in an ambush outside his house in the area. He was referred to the authorities to face charges.
KUWAIT: A local daily published yesterday a report about confiscating fake and smuggled medicines from various pharmacies and herbal shops. Both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Commerce are responsible for the inspection and controlling of these places. Customers who bought such medicines can complain to the Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Commerce. According to an inspector from this department, they hold inspections both randomly and based on a complaint. “Sometimes our inspectors go on random inspections but in the majority of cases, we conduct inspections at pharmacies after a customer files a complaint at our department, especially since pharmacies are inspected by the Ministry of Health,” the inspector told the Kuwait Times. He agreed that there were few cases of fake medicines found in pharmacies and the number was not big. “Nevertheless, imported medicines and other consumables go through checking by the customs department at different ports and mail, yet some individuals succeed in smuggling banned or fake medicines into the country in different ways. So we work to eliminate this phenomena,” added the inspector.
Michel, a pharmacist, denied knowledge about such fake medicines. “I haven’t heard about any pharmacies selling fake medicines and haven’t received any offers for such medicines. All medicines sold in the pharmacy should be authorized by the Ministry of Health. We don’t accept any new products or medicines unless we check the official license given by the ministry for this product. If any patient comes to us and asks for forbidden or fake medicines, we just say it’s not available at the pharmacy,” he pointed out. “Inspectors from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Commerce and the Municipality come frequently for inspections at the pharmacy. They check the medicines if they are licensed and approved, the expiry date, and other issues related to their work. In case of any violation, the pharmacist or the owner of the license will be penalized and it may reach a point where the pharmacy may be closed,” stressed Michel.
According to a report published by the World Health Organization, sales from fake medicines globally in the past two years were $75 billion per year, with a 90 percent increase compared to 2005. And according to the report, one million people die every year around the world as a result of consuming these fake medicines. The report also mentioned that most of the fake medicines that have biggest sales are for weight loss, sexual dysfunction, antibiotics, and painkillers.
By Nawara Fattahova
KUWAIT: The constitutional court accepted yesterday to review petitions challenging that article 25 of the penal code, which deals with crimes of insulting HH the Amir or undermining his status, is not in line with the Kuwaiti constitution. The controversial article stipulates a jail term of up to five years for insulting the Amir or undermining his status and authority in public and also considers these acts as state security crimes. The petitions committee of the constitutional court yesterday ruled that two petitions submitted by lawyers challenging article 25 “are serious enough to be reviewed by the constitutional court” and set Oct 31 for the court to start the hearing, which may take months.
Based on the article, several opposition youth activists have been sentenced to various jail terms on charges of writing remarks on Twitter deemed offensive to the Amir by the courts. In addition, a number of other activists and at least four former opposition MPs, including Mussallam Al-Barrak, are still on trial over similar charges and their cases could be affected by the expected verdict of the constitutional court. Article 25 of the penal code has been repeatedly criticized by human rights activists as violating the freedom of speech which is guaranteed by the constitution. International human rights bodies have also criticized the article several times and demanded abolishing it.
In a related matter, MP Saadoun Hammad and two candidates for the National Assembly elections Meshari Al-Hussaini and Saud Al-Subaie yesterday denied in court accusations that they were involved in acts of vote-buying. The interior ministry announced during the July election that it had busted cases of vote-buying by the three candidates. Only Hammad won a seat while the other two failed. If convicted, they could be handed several years in jail.
In other business, National Assembly Speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem said yesterday that His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah has given his total support for resolving the housing problem which MPs have selected to be the top issue in the next term opening Oct 29. Ghanem said that the Assembly is expected to hold a special session to discuss the housing crisis in Kuwait and all concerned ministers are expected to attend to review the issue from all dimensions.
In a poll conducted by the Assembly in summer, a majority of Kuwaitis polled said housing was their top concern and as a result, the Assembly decided to accord the issue their utmost attention. Ghanem also said a committee has been formed to prepare the Assembly’s priorities during the next term and it plans to meet with the government for coordination.
In another issue, Finance Minister Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz Al-Sabah denied yesterday that he said that the government planned to stop subsidies on a number of commodities and services. The minister said that what he said was that a study is underway to assess subsidies and rationalize some of them so subsidies should go to those who require it. He insisted that any measure will not undermine low-paid Kuwaitis.
By B Izzak
KUWAIT: Some countries are considered a source of contagious and dangerous diseases and the possibility of spreading these diseases to other people are high, so the citizens of these countries are subject to medical tests before entering the country and every time thereafter while renewing their residencies in Kuwait. In general the medical test is required for all nationalities as part of visa requirements before issuing a visa or entering the country.
Some expats contact infectious diseases before coming back to Kuwait from their vacations, which causes danger to other people who come in contact with them. According to a local Arabic daily, the head of the ports and borders health department Dr Sami Al-Nasser announced the re-testing procedure will be applied to citizens from 31 countries who are residing in Kuwait after returning from their vacations. The test will take place at the time of iqama renewal.
Nasser said the countries are Niger, Uganda, Cameron, Angola, Congo, Central Africa, South Africa, Djibouti, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Benin, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Chad, Togo, Tonga, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Ivory Coast, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Namibia, Somalia and India. Nasser said the test is precautionary so that no infection is transferred to Kuwait from the above-mentioned countries, “as we always follow the necessary procedures to prevent transmission of infections and chronic diseases”.
Col Adel Al-Hashash, PR and Moral Guidance Director of the Ministry of Interior, told Kuwait Times that this decision was taken by the Ministry of Health and is applied on the citizens of the mentioned countries. “Before entering Kuwait, a visa applicant should have an official medical certificate from his home country approved by the Kuwaiti embassy in that country to get the visa.
Then these expats will have to undergo a medical test here with every visa renewal. And if they don’t, their files will be blocked and they won’t be able to do any paperwork,” he stated. 45-year-old Moneta, an Indian citizen living and working in Kuwait for the last 17 years, said the new rule is ‘totally discriminatory’. This new rule will not help the authorities meet the objective of purging the country of contagious diseases or chronic ailments.
Residents who reenter the country from the West also can spread such diseases and cause danger to the Kuwaiti population. It is also quite tedious and timeconsuming procedure and can put considerable financial burden on many expats if they are forced to do medical tests whenever they exit and reenter the country,” he pointed out. Manal, 39, approves of this decision and even suggests increasing the number of countries to be added to the list of the above-mentioned 31 countries. “I think that these and other countries are dangerous as many infectious diseases are spread there due to different reason including poverty and low levels of education.
Many of them even don’t realize they are sick and may infect other people. My friend’s maid from Sri Lanka has been working at her house for more than 8 years, and after her last vacation to her country, she was infected with HIV through her husband who suffered from this disease and didn’t even know it. Her sponsor only knew recently after she was injured and the hospital did a medical test on her to find out she has AIDS. The family suffered a lot as they had doubts of being somehow infected but thanks to God, they did tests and they came back negative,” she explained.
By Nawara Fattahova