x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Sharjah fund to offer free medicine

The proposal aims to provide Sharjah hospitals with free medication to treat common ailments.

Sharjah // A health fund is being established to provide Sharjah hospitals with free medication to treat common ailments. The proposal was put forward by the Sharjah Department of Islamic Endowments and the General Authority for Religious Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf) in co-operation with the Ministry of Health. Public and private hospitals would be included in the project, which is set to be launched during Ramadan, said Jamal Salim al Turaifi, head of the Awqaf general trust.

"Of course all government hospitals are part of this project," Mr al Turaifi said, "but the other private hospitals that would partner with us would be disclosed in Ramadan on the launch of the project." He gave no further details of the budget or the list of hospitals receiving services. Although officials declined to reveal examples of the "basic ailments" targeted by the fund, they hinted that medication to treat common conditions not typically covered by basic health insurance would be included.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed al Qasimi, secretary general of the Department of Awqaf in Sharjah, said the annual budget for its projects had been estimated at Dh200 million (US$ 54.5m) this year, but because of the recession this figure was being reviewed. He said the Government had been asked to pay staff salaries, estimated at Dh4m a year, so that this cost would not need to be met from the department's own funds.

"In some GCC countries like Kuwait, salaries of Awqaf are paid by the government and this reduces pressure on the Awqaf funds to concentrate on their development projects," he said, adding that discussions with the Government on this point were in progress. ykakande@thenational.ae