Bahrain shura rejects health fund bill


Eighteen of the 34 members present rejected the bill.


Member Dr Khaled Al Maskati told the Tribune that the bill lacked clarity.


He said the original information was that the BD1 million fund would be used for the benefit of the poor and the needy who wanted to avail of treatment facilities abroad if the remedy was not available in Bahrain.


However, when presented, the details of the bill were ambiguous resulting in the advisor to the Minister of Health and the spokesperson for the ministry speaking in contradictory terms.
“They have to be clear on who would benefit from the fund, whether it would only be the poor and the needy or all those travelling abroad for treatment,” Al Maskati said.


Arguing against the transfer of the proposed fund to any other body, First Deputy Chairman Jamal Mohammad Fakhro said such a move would not make a strong business case. The fund will be replenished by the government and as long as it is with the Ministry of Health, there will be accountability.


If it is transferred to another government agency, there will be no guarantee on who will administer the funds. If the proposed fund is not administered in the correct way, it would be of no use and the needy might not benefit, he said.


It was argued that the fund, under the Minister for Health could be operated under one umbrella instead of the two that exist. However, the counter argument was that the fund, though under the ministry, should be administered by two other bodies.


Members Dr Bahiya Jawad Al Jishi and Dr Aysha Salem Mubarak, among others, supported the bill and argued that the health committee needed not look into the fund if it was brought under the ministry. Parliamentary services committee head Dr Ali Ahmed Abdullah said as long as the fund was administered by the ministry there would be accountability.


The needy could approach the authorities and discrepancies, if any, could be easily corrected. But there would be no accountability if the fund was administered by more than one agency, he said.


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