Health restrictions for expats in Kuwait

Residency requires a ‘clean bill of health’.

A recent list announced by The Kuwaiti Ministry of Health tightens Kuwait’s immigration rules. Now expats with 1 of 22 non-infectious illnesses will be banned from living and working in the country.

Who will it impact?

Previously Kuwait would not issue entry visas to people suffering from a pretty standard set of communicable diseases (including AIDS, TB & Malaria).

It is now being reported that people suffering from a wider range of illnesses, including cancer and kidney disease, as well as common conditions like diabetes and high-blood pressure, will join the ‘no-residency allowed’ list. Even having a ‘squint’ (ocular diversion) – can get you barred from entry.

Health services stretched

All residents of Kuwait are entitled to free or subsidised healthcare. As expats make up more than two-thirds of Kuwait’s population, they are widely seen as being responsible for the current strain on the healthcare services and the rapidly rising public healthcare costs.

Following the  increase of expatriate public healthcare fees introduced in October 2017, this new list fits into Kuwait’s ongoing efforts to reduce the strain on its healthcare system. However, according to Ministry of Health official Majida Al Qattan, the new regulations are simply to ensure that expats coming to Kuwait are ‘fit for work’.

The wider picture

Kuwait is highly reliant on foreign workers, particularly within the booming construction industry. In recent years, reducing the country’s reliance on foreign labour and increasing the job prospects of nationals has become an increasingly pressing goal for the Kuwaiti government. These new health restrictions may well have little to do with healthcare and more to do with addressing the country’s foreign demographic imbalance.

Keep an eye on Kuwait’s changing employment and health laws; perhaps it will soon lose its status as an expat hotspot.