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Mon 11 Aug 2008 04:00 AM

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Kuwaiti health ministry in crisis mode

Kuwait's Ministry of Health has been under a sustained parliamentary attack in recent months, with leading MPs describing it as a "mess" and calling for the resignation of prominent figures.

Kuwait's Ministry of Health has been under a sustained parliamentary attack in recent months, with leading MPs describing it as a "mess" and calling for the resignation of prominent figures.

Kuwaiti MP Dr Ali Al-Harji launched a scathing attack on the MoH, following controversies surrounding medical bill fraud, drug shortages, accusations of endemic corruption and organised strikes among its Asian workforce.

Speaking to local press, Al Harji said: "The government demanded the biggest budget in the history of Kuwait and the MoH took the lion's share of this budget, but the health services offered are substandard."

Much of the debate centres on the controversial topic of overseas medical treatment. The policy has been accused of being inefficient and open to misuse, moving the assistant undersecretary of finance and services at the MoH, Abdalfatah Al-Asmawi, to issue a statement stating all bills would be scrutinised.

"We pay for who deserves it," he said. "If we pay blindly we will be accused of wasting public money - I will accept criticism and not pay one unjustified fil."

MoH undersecretary Dr Essa Al-Khalifa offered his resignation earlier this month. However, it was rejected by the Cabinet.

In reaction to the backlash, MP Dr Jamaan Al-Harbaash told press that: "the Cabinet is expected to fight corruption - therefore it is our duty to publicly expose those who breach the ties between the legislative and executive authorities and support corrupt individuals."

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