The Saudi health ministry organized a recruitment meeting in Abuja to pick Nigerian doctors for work in Saudi Arabia, and over 500 doctors attended.
Despite the beginning of the exercise at 7 a.m., it lasted well into the afternoon with more doctors joining in after others had done the interview and left.
During the exercise, there was a large crowd of doctors inside and outside the building.
Candidates who are successful will have the opportunity to work in Saudi Arabia.
Doctors from different specialties were earlier invited to take part in the interview process for employment with the Saudi Ministry of Health.
Anesthesia, ICU, pediatric surgery, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, ENT, and emergency medicine are the specialties.
Other sub-specialties include internal medicine, orthopedic surgery, radiology, and hematology.
We learned that the recruitment will be conducted by an agency on behalf of the Saudi Ministry of Health, and that other agencies will also hold recruitment exercises this Thursday in Abuja, and in other parts of the country like Lagos in the coming days.
According to doctors, poor remuneration, insufficient manpower, inadequate health facilities and equipment, and insecurity are some of the reasons making them seek greener pastures abroad.
Experts warn, however, that the mass exodus of doctors portends danger for the country’s already weakened health system and attendant shortage of manpower.
Gynecologists have expressed disappointment that President Buhari seeks medical attention abroad while leaving their salaries unpaid for months in the country.
“We can’t really survive, when Mr. President goes abroad for medical treatment, while workers aren’t being paid, or are paid half their salaries, for the past 10 months,” he said.
” I must take care of my family. Why does the government not take care of the health sector? After undergoing rigorous training for six years, it is not worth it to struggle to feed your family. “I’ve been working 48 hours straight with no results.”
According to a paediatrician who also sought anonymity, the working environment for doctors in the country is pitiable and they have no choice but to leave.
“More than 500 specialists are seeking to leave the country, and they come from teaching hospitals, federal medical centers, and specialty hospitals.
“So Saudi Arabia wants the best for its people, so its officials come here, collect the best from Nigeria, and put them in their hospitals so their people can benefit from Nigeria’s expertise.”.
In response to a question about the government, he said it could make the country’s health system work if it wants to.
“It’s a very straightforward advice. Health care should work, doctors should be remunerated fairly, and the necessary tools should be made available for them to work with, so this trend of brain drain will stop.
If the working conditions are good, no one will want to leave home. We are frustrated at work, and sometimes contribute money to buy drugs for patients. “When the government does the right thing, the trend will stop,” he said.