Manama: Asian and African domestic workers from more than 30 countries will have to undergo medical tests whenever they go back to Kuwait after visiting their homelands.

The Ministry of Interior’s General Directorate of Residency Affairs said that the decision was taken on a recommendation from the Ministry of Health. The aim is reportedly to ensure they have not contracted contagious diseases.

The list of countries to be affected by the ministry’s decision include Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Central African Republic, Uganda, South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Congo, Mali, Cameroon, Benin, Zambia, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Ghana, Madagascar, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India.

Domestic helpers make up one of the largest expatriate communities working in Kuwait, with the latest figures putting their numbers at around 650,000.

Foreigners make up around 70 per cent of the country’s total population of 4.3 million people.

An ambitious drive to boost local employment to reduce reliance on foreigners encompasses an increasing number of jobs, but the list does not include domestic help such as maids, drivers and gardeners.

Most of the domestic workers are from India and the Philippines, and Kuwait has been working on diversifying the source countries to ensure a steady flow of recruitment.