Pandemic Diaries: Collective hands

By Jamie Etheridge

Yesterday, Minister of Health Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah posted a thank you message on his official Twitter account: “To all my colleagues on the front lines. You have made incredible sacrifices, leaving your families, working tirelessly, and showing us the true meaning of resilience and sacrifice. You are combatting this pandemic, to give life to our collective health and prosperity. Thank you.”

The minister posted his comments in Arabic, English and Hindi – acknowledging the diversity of the health professional community in Kuwait and rightly thanking them all for their incredible hard work, sacrifice and dedication. He also demonstrated, through the inclusion of English and Hindi languages the importance of an integrated (rather than segregated response) to this pandemic.

Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah is right. We are all in this together and we will survive this as a collective or not at all. But there remain some problems with Kuwait’s approach to dealing with this crisis. For instance, the segregation of COVID patients based on nationality – sending Kuwaiti patients to Jaber Hospital directly but expats must go to their local hospital first and then via a COVID ward either be sent to Jaber (if a child, female or high risk) or to Mishref field hospital (if male, low risk).

The lockdowns of Jleeb and Mahboula have also done little or nothing to slow the spread of the virus in the community but have created innumerable hardships for the people living in those areas. From food shortages and insecurity to lack of inability to earn enough money to live for many, the lockdowns further segregate the community – though on the basis of location rather than nationality.

The only division that should be driving health policy decisions at this stage is the one between healthy and unhealthy people. As Sheikh Dr Basel has so rightly acknowledged, our collective health and prosperity is in our collective hands.

etheridge@kuwaittimes.com