Kuwait MD: Dr. Can you please give me an injection?

Post by Dr. H


I’m a 20 something year old doctor working in family medicine in a polyclinic in Kuwait City. I’m Kuwaiti but I was born and raised abroad, and then finished med school abroad. When I graduated I decided to come back to Kuwait. There’s a lot of ups and downs of being back, it’s been a joy and struggle at the same time. So i’ll be writing about some of that, as well as healthcare, and life as a Doctor working in Kuwait. For my first post, I’ll be discussing an issue I face on an almost daily basis in practice, one that I almost always feel helpless in solving. The treatment of foreign workers in Kuwait.

Patient: Dr. Can you please give me an injection?

Me: Which injection?

Patient: Something that will make my flu go away, that will make me able to work again

Me: I explain that flu’s take time, and that she needs to rest, and that its vital she does so.

I see hesitation.. followed by

Patient: Please, give me anything madame says I have to work

This is sadly a very common scenario. Typically it would be a housemaid, who’s come to seek treatment for a flu or common illness, and is worried that she’ll get in trouble, get deductions from her salary, or even worse, get hit if she doesn’t work through her illness. This is a trend I noticed very early on while working in family medicine.

I thought for a while about what the solution could be, so I started asking for the numbers of their employers, and started explaining to them; the need for rest, how ‘contagious’ a flu can be, and how vital rest is to ‘speed up recovery’ time. Coming from a ‘fellow Kuwaiti’ it wasn’t hard to convince… and trying to appeal to their own selfish nature by implying that they’ll get something out of letting them rest also helped. As if showing a little bit of empathy and basic humanity isn’t enough motivation to do so.

This just highlights a major issue in this country that largely goes un-noticed. Or perhaps its noticed, yet nothing is done. While I was working on a OB/GYN residency, a housemaid came into the emergency room in tears, claiming that she just found out she was pregnant and that she’d been raped earlier. I was horrified, and I contacted the police. Instead of them taking a statement from her, doing their best to protect her.. they dragged her down to station for ‘questioning’ and detained her! “illegal pregnancy” they said.

There are not enough laws to protect foreign workers. We have people from all over the world coming to work in Kuwait whether it be in homes, streets, hotels, restaurants. Immigrants make up a huge percentage of the population of Kuwait.. a percentage that Kuwait wouldn’t be able to run without.

What support systems are in place should they need help? Who can they approach? Is there a helpline they can call? Is there a ‘union’ that defends them? Are there organizations in place?

These issues need to be addressed, if not for the country’s sake, for the sake of maintaining a little bit of humanity, and not losing track of the reality that we live in.

Post by Dr. H – A family medicine resident working in a polyclinic in Kuwait

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