KUWAIT: The Health Assurance Hospitals Company (Dhaman) opened its first primary healthcare center in Hawally in Cairo Complex on Ibn Khaldoun Street yesterday. The center, spread over an area of 3,079 sq m, has 20 clinics covering family medicine, pediatrics, preventive services, health education, consultation, acute and chronic diseases, dental services, digital x-ray, ultrasound, laboratory and pharmaceutical services. Dhaman was set up by a public private partnership (PPP) established through a ministerial decree as part of Kuwait’s development plan.
The hospital is part of a government push to segregate healthcare, limiting access for expatriates to the public system. Already, some clinics offer Kuwaiti-only timings, and priority for certain clinics and medicines are unavailable to residents, who are also paying higher fees for visits.
“Healthcare is one of the main pillars of the 2035 New Kuwait vision. The main objective is to target residents in Kuwait, as we have more than 2 million expats. The aim is to provide them with high quality healthcare, while at the same time decrease the load on the health ministry and streamline the system. We are partners with Mayo Clinic in the US, so we are bringing high quality and efficiency,” said Tina Baramakian, Dhaman Corporate Director.
Baramakian affirmed the cost of health insurance premiums in the coming years will be a bit higher. “But expats should not be terrified, since we will be charging only a minimal amount – it won’t be too high compared to services in private clinics. I assure you prices will be competitive. At government health centers, you have to pay KD 2 or KD 5 – we are only seeing an increase of 500 fils or maybe a dinar, but the good thing is that laboratory, radiology, pharmacy and other basic tests will be free,” she added.
Dhaman Chairman Mutlaq Al-Sane, Acting CEO Dr Mohammad Al-Qinae, board members and a group of dignitaries and officials toured the center and had a look at the clinics and equipment. The tour was followed by a press conference during which Qinae gave a detailed presentation about the services at the center, adding this opening is the first stage of the company’s operational plan that includes the opening of five centers in Kuwait’s governorates. The other four centers are expected to open during the last quarter of 2019.
Sane said the company has completed medical, administrative and logistic preparations to receive patients and start commercial operations in a practical preparatory stage to implement the main goal behind establishing the company, which is to provide services to expats very soon in cooperation with the health ministry. He said Dhaman’s strategy is to upgrade healthcare services and develop infrastructure in a way that benefits the healthcare sector as a whole.
Baramakian said the pilot healthcare center has a fully automated system. “The newly opened clinic is a primary center. Primary centers will be opened in several areas. The center can take care of primary and secondary patients of all age groups. Secondary patients are those who will be treated in hospitals for complex cases. We will be setting up hospitals too for expats, but any case that we cannot treat will be sent to ministry hospitals for proper treatment. Gradually it’s a withdrawal from government-run clinics to Dhaman healthcare services to Dhaman hospitals,” she explained.
Dhaman will be a one-stop healthcare provider with all services under one roof. “In setting up hospitals or primary clinics, we consider the location – crowded areas and neighborhoods and with public transportation access. Everything will be there – laboratories, pharmacies and more. We don’t want patients to wait or come back the next day for laboratory results – they will be available in 30 minutes,” Baramakian said. “We will soon open primary centers in Farwaniya, Jahra and Ahmadi. More clinics will open in 2020, and the hospitals by 2021.”
Asked if the primary healthcare center in Hawally will now accept insured expats, Baramakian replied in the negative. “The healthcare card is not ready yet. When the card is ready, we will start accepting expats patients. For now, we will be charging the same as other private clinics. Nonetheless, pilot tests will continue.”
By Ben Garcia