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Illegal status compounds misery of sick expats in Oman

Visitors without proper health insurance cover could also face problems in sickness

Image Credit: Sunil K. Vaidya/Gulf News
Bhavana Mohan
Gulf News

Muscat: Serious, in some cases terminal, illness combined with illegal status has compounded misery for low-wage Indian expatriate workers in Oman.

“Lack of residency status makes it very difficult for patients to seek quick exit from Oman to seek treatment in their home country,” P. M. Jabir, Community Welfare Secretary at the Indian Social Club, told Gulf News.

“Such cases are increasing and keep coming even as we solve a case or two,” pointed out the founder of Kairalee Group that carries out social work for stranded Indians in Oman.

Jabir said that to add to the expatriates with illegal status they had request from a low-wage worker to help repatriate his seek father, who was on a visit visa. “The worker arranged visit visa for his septuagenarian father, who went into coma here in Oman after a week or so,” he said.

P.N Sreeraj, who earns 300 Omani riyals monthly wages as a supervisor in Sohar, faced hard times when his father Narayanankutty fell sick after arriving here on a visit visa. “My company has provided me family status and my wife arrived here but I brought my old father here at my own expense and risk,” Sreeraj told Gulf News.

His father was admitted to Sohar Hospital and as it health worsened was brought to Khoula Hospital’s Neurological Ward. “He went into coma and is in serious condition,” Sreeraj informed.

The expenses of keeping him at Khoula Hospital’s ICU was mounting and at the same time he was advised by the doctors here to take his father to India for further treatment. “I had to take a doctor and nurse with my father as he is on a ventilator,” Sreeraj said.

The total expense of treatment here and taking his Narayanankutty to India for further treatment was coming to 4000 Omani riyals. “I don’t have so much funds,” confessed Sreeraj.

Jabir said through the intervention of Indian embassy officials he had managed to get a promise from the senior management of Sreeraj’s company for some funds to help him out.

“At the moment I have borrowed from fiends and well-wishers as taking my father back home was my top priority,” the distraught son said, adding that he hadn’t even thought how he would pay back.

Busy in finalising all procedures to take his father back home on stretcher with ventilator, Sreeraj advised others to be careful before inviting older parents on visit visa. “No one should get elders or any kin here on a visit visa without proper health insurance cover as it can really get dicey like in my case,” he professed.

Sreeraj, who left for India with his father on Friday, went through trauma as he struggled to provide treatment to his visiting father within his limited means but there are others who are going through worse time due to illegal status of their stay in Oman.

“There’s a need to create strong awareness back home about the perils of violating residency laws,” Jabir suggested as he talked about an Indian, who is unemployed, without valid visa and suffering from kidney failure.

Bhuvana Mohan, 63, has been living in Oman for the past 30 years and last seven without any legal papers. “He hasn’t met his wife and only daughter for the last ten years,” Jabir informs, adding that when Oman government offered amnesty the ex-Indian serviceman could not get out pass due to some issue about his labour card.

Bhavana incurred heavy losses in last two business – rent-a-car and fish export - he tried thus, Jabir says, the sexagenarian is almost penniless. “He has to undergo dialysis, which costs at least 100 riyals per session,” he added.

The ISC Community Welfare Secretary said that the Keralite need to go back to India to be with his wife and only daughter but needs to sort out his residency status, pay for his costly treatment and hope some Samaritan would help him out of his troubles.

“There are two Indians from the state of Andhra Pradesh being treated at the Royal Hospital for kidney failure and heart attack respectively. “Both are low wage workers without legal papers,” Jabir said, adding that funds are required to keep their treatment going before they could be repatriated.

“The lure of earning big money in quick time prompts poor people from Asian sub-continent to come to the Gulf region by hook or crook,” Jabir said, adding that little do they realise the problems that they could face in adverse situation.