Some expatriate workers have been complaining that they have no access to medical facilities as their employers have not arranged for their residency permit (RP) cards even though some of them have worked in these firms for a year.
These people cannot get health cards in the absence of their RPs, which they say prevents them from availing of the services provided by health centres.
These companies mostly have a small workforce, the employees point out, claiming that their managers "show little interest in getting their RPs renewed despite repeated pleas over the past few months".
There have been reports in recent months of the labour authorities penalising a number of companies with heavy fines for not getting their workers' RPs renewed. However, many workers continue to face this problem, say sources. Also, some companies do not provide the mandatory health cards to workers even after getting their RPs issued, it was found.
"Low-paid workers face major problems in the absence of these documents, as they cannot afford to visit private clinics," said a source.
Medical camps organised by forums within the country's expatriate communities provide much relief to workers who require medical attention. For instance, a number of workers without RPs and health cards get medical assistance for no cost at the Indian Community Benevolent Forum’s (ICBF) medical camps.
"We are providing such assistance on humanitarian grounds and don't even see whether a worker is an Indian expatriate or not," said one of its office-bearers. Recently, the forum held a medical camp in Al Khor, which came as a big relief for scores of workers there.
A former president of ICBF, Kareem Abdullah, said the forum has helped many workers without RPs and health cards in the past and also paid for the health cards for a number of them. Besides, free medicines are distributed among workers.
Similar assistance is provided by another forum in the Indian community - Indian Islamic Association Qatar. Its annual health camps attract a large number of low-paid expatriate workers of different nationalities.