Nigerian health workers

Desperate to exit Nigerian shores and join hundreds of their colleagues already in Saudi Arabia, hundreds of Nigerian doctors on Tuesday, stormed the Ladi Kwali Hall of the Sheraton Hotels, Abuja where a consultancy firm, Meeds Consultancy held interviews for those willing to work in the Asian country.

This is amid ongoing strike action by resident doctors in the country over non payment of salary among other challenges.

The firm organised the interview on behalf of the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health and saw medical doctors in various fields such as anaesthesia, ICU, paediatrics and surgery, family medicine and others storm the venue as early as 6.45am.

Though the interview was scheduled for 7am, those who arrived at the large hall had a hectic time to get seats.

PUNCH quoted some of the doctors to have listed poor conditions of service, poor investment in the health sector, inconsistent salary payments, among others, as reasons for wanting to leave the country.

A medical consultant, Ahmadu Balarabe, who works at a teaching hospital in the North-West told PUNCH that they could not continue to work in a degraded system.

“Look around you, I am sure you can see old people here. This is the situation we have found ourselves in this country. We cannot continue to work in a degraded health system,” he said.

“Let us even talk about the NARD strike. These young doctors have been on strike and the next thing the government does is to sue them. Where is this done?

“Most of them (government officials) don’t care about the sector, because they know they can disappear to foreign countries. Well, we are also going to join them.

“I have some of my fellow consultants with several years of practice, who are also here to try their luck.”

Another medical doctor, Vivian Okolo, said, “Concerning the number of doctors here, I am heartbroken. When I came in here, I wanted to cry. Over 90 per cent of the people you see here are consultants.

“Consultants are the ones who train resident doctors. When they leave, who will train the upcoming doctors? But you can’t blame them, because we all are looking for better conditions of service.

“I left medical school in 2011; my teacher who taught me in the medical school is here, a seasoned paediatrics consultant.”

Another medical doctor, Femi Jaiyeola, blamed the Federal Government for the large turnout of doctors willing to migrate.

He said, “One of the persons we met when we came in said they were expecting close to 600 doctors. The government is to be blamed for this.

“Someone even asked me if I was not scared of going to an Islamic country since I am a Christian. I told him even Ehanire (Minister of Health) will come here if he has the opportunity. Saudi Arabia is offering more than we can ever earn in Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, another recruitment of medical registrars willing to relocate to Saudi Arabia will be held on Thursday, PUNCH reported.

Medical registrars are senior doctors above house officers but below consultants.

According to a document, the interview would be conducted by another recruitment firm, On Y Va Concept, on behalf of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health.

The document titled, ‘Addendum, Vacancies in Saudi Arabia,’ read in part, “Senior registrars are invited for interview for opportunities in Saudi Arabia; only senior registrars with their membership certificates.

“Come with all documents; certificates and copies, two passport photographs, a letter showing evidence of work experience, a summary of the years of experience in chronological order, a comprehensive CV and forms of identification.