Kuwait is a small country in the Middle East. Although healthcare rarely makes headlines in articles discussing the Middle East, Kuwait’s healthcare system helps its citizens in many ways. Still, some shortcomings remain. Here is what you need to know about healthcare in Kuwait.
5 Facts About Healthcare in Kuwait
- Heart disease and stroke are the top causes of death in Kuwait. In both 2007 and 2017, heart disease and stroke ranked as the first and second most common causes of death. In 2016, cardiovascular diseases were responsible for 41% of deaths, and cancer was responsible for 15%.
- Kuwait offers free but low-quality healthcare. All Kuwaitis are entitled to free healthcare and medical treatment at government facilities. However, some services, such as X-rays and specialized tests, are not free. These services usually come at significant additional cost and many are not offered at government facilities. As a result, patients need to go to the private sector or, in extreme cases, go to North America and Europe. Wait times for healthcare in Kuwait can be extreme. The wait time is so long for the public sector that those seeking immediate medical attention often go to the private sector. To make matters worse, Kuwaiti hospitals are drastically under-supplied for their growing population. As of 2016, Kuwait had two hospital beds per 1,000. The Ministry of Health launched projects expanding hospitals and adding critical supplies like beds, operating rooms, and clinics. The Kuwaiti government plans to meet its goals by 2030.
- Children’s health in Kuwait meets many goals. About eight infants die per every 1,000 live births. Of these children, about 91 percent receive three doses of the DTP vaccine, fighting diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus, and 94 percent receive two doses of the measles vaccine. As the children grow older, they still have very good odds of surviving and staying healthy. The under-five mortality rate for females is 7 deaths per 1,000 children; for males, it is 9 deaths per 1,000 births. Children enjoy adequate education, sanitation clean water.
- Life expectancy in Kuwait is 75.31 years. This number is greater than the life expectancy in India, Russia and Mexico and it is comparable to those of China and the United States. Kuwait’s life expectancy is so high in part because of economic prosperity fueled by its petroleum industry. High economic status is closely linked to high life expectancy — since many people in Kuwait benefit from the petroleum industry, more Kuwaiti citizens enjoy a happy, long life.
- Kuwait’s citizens struggle with obesity. Around 33% of males and 44% of females over the age of 18 are obese. The same study also shows that 26% of males and 20% of females aged 10-19 are obese. These numbers are troubling as it shows that over 75% of the adults and over 45% of the children in Kuwait are obese. To make matters worse, the WHO projects the numbers will rise in the coming years. As of 2016, “according to the Global Burden of Disease Study, Kuwait is the fourth most obese country in the world.”
Kuwait is still considered a developing country despite its many advancements in medicine, science and technology. Access to public healthcare that covers an average amount of medical expenses should be applauded. Much remains to fix wait times and medical supplies, but this will build on the inspiring work already completed.
– Kate Estevez