KUWAIT CITY (Kuwait) (AFP) - A Kuwaiti rights group on Monday accused authorities in the Gulf state of discrimination against foreigners by barring them from certain healthcare services at public hospitals.
The independent Kuwait Society for Human Rights said expatriates in the oil-rich emirate have been barred from kidney dialysis treatment and certain drugs at public hospitals.
The health ministry is also considering reserving a new 1,100-bed hospital for Kuwaiti citizens alone, the society said in a statement.
"These decisions strengthen racial discrimination, constitute a flagrant violation of human rights and breach humanitarian values," the society said.
The decisions will also tarnish the image of Kuwait which was last year selected by the United Nations as a centre for humanity, it said.
Kuwait is home to 2.9 million foreigners, mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Egypt and Syria, and 1.3 million native Kuwaitis.
The emirate provides free medical services to citizens but expats must pay a compulsory annual fee of $165 each, besides paying reduced charges for certain surgeries and procedures like x-ray.
The society said the decisions also violate the Kuwaiti constitution, international rights agreements and help increase "hatred" against the immigrant workforce.
Kuwait applies similar restrictions against expats in other areas like imposing stringent conditions on them to obtain a driver's licence.
Fellow Gulf states Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates totally bar expatriates from medical treatment at public hospitals except in emergencies.