Prior to Iraq’s short-term occupation of Kuwait, 7 percent of the state budget was allocated to health care. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of KWT and acronym for Kuwait. Healthcare, which was considered among the world’s foremost, was also free to non-Kuwaiti people. At the same time, most of the employees in the healthcare sector were (and are) foreigners. Due to the deteriorating economy after the war, the rate of privatization in the formerly state-organized healthcare increased. However, healthcare is still partly free, partly covered by low fees. The same conditions apply to Kuwaiti as to guest workers. The medical density in 2010 was 1.8 per 1,000 residents. Infant mortality is low and life expectancy is among the highest in the Arab world.
During the Iraqi occupation of 1990-91, the healthcare sector was subject to extensive destruction of buildings and equipment. In many cases, theft occurred, where hospital equipment was simply shipped to Baghdad. After the war, there has been an increase in the incidence of respiratory illnesses caused by pollution from the oil fields the Iraqi army ignited. Another effect of the occupation – combined with the fact that women have traditionally been (and are) inferior to society – is the high incidence of post-traumatic stress syndrome, especially among women who were raped by Iraqi occupation troops. These women not only suffer from the direct psychological effects of the rape per se but also became socially vulnerable because pre- or extra-marital sex for women – regardless of the circumstances – is highly stigmatizing. Since independence in 1961, girls and women have had the same rights as boys and men for education and health care, and the right to work in both the public and private sectors. Only in 2005, however, did women get the right to vote and be nominated to Parliament. Women can now also be appointed to high positions in the public administration.
Thanks to its high oil income, Kuwait is usually regarded as a welfare society. However, it is not a people’s home, the welfare is not shared equally between the Kuwaiti citizens and the guest workers, who do not have the right to many of the Kuwaiti social benefits.
The social differences between Kuwaiti and immigrants have brought great tensions in society. These have been reinforced soon after the war. One goal of Kuwait’s reconstruction work is to reduce dependence on foreigners in the future.