Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Picture of Health

I have been processing a residency Visa in Kuwait as I am here for more than 60 days and live off post. Part of the residency requirement is that you pass a basic physical which consists of a quick look see to make sure you have four working appendages and a head; a chest X-Ray, and a blood test. The X-Ray is because the dreaded disease TB is rearing its ugly head again in a lot of Third World nations and a lot of these export labor type folks wind up here in Kuwait.

The blood test is for HIV and Hepatitis and whatever else they want to look at. I was scheduled for the physical for three weeks and it was finally my turn in the bucket. I loaded up into the van with everyone else and off we went to the Kuwait Public Health Clinic. I did not take any photos inside as the Kuwaitis have a phobia about photos of their public buildings. I guess they think we will divulge info to some bad guys some where. I grabbed these shots of the outside though as I saw something that just boggled me.

Here is the outside of the building. It is like a lot of other buildings here. Nondescript, low lying, light colored, and very little in the way of advertising or public notification of what it is. On the right you can see an awning and that is where about 50 guys from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh were all huddled up smoking and joking. I don't know what they were talking about but they were all resigned to being there just like the rest of us. This building is dank, dirty, needs paint, and has a faint smell of urine. It also has that smell which always reminds me that I have left the Western world and that is the smell of unwashed bodies.

The next photo shows you the grated water taps which are in the left of the top photo. These taps are very common in Kuwait and I have started to take a pics of them as some are shaped like water bottles and some like jugs. They are some of the few interesting bits of design I have seen here. Most of the time people (poor people) will bring jugs to fill or water bottles to fill and will top off. The city water here is of good quality so that is not a concern. It is desalinated ocean water and it tastes a little off but overall it is OK.

Now here is where it gets boggling. There are drinking cups chained to the taps! Here is the main public health clinic for the entire country and they have communal cups. They are worried about TB and bloodborne diseases but any ninny with the flu can infect about 100 other people by drinking out of this cup. I am still floored by this and the mind set that allows it. Is it that they know only the poor (read: Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis) will be affected? Is it that they don't care? It can't be that they don't know the hazards, they just ignore it.

Bottoms up! The first round is on me!


Anonymous BWjones said...

Friends from Oman tell me that about the only thing the rich use desalinated water for is flushing, so the rich can afford bottled water, right?

8:34 AM  

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