Nigerian doctors trooped out in their hundreds to the Ladi Kwali Hall of the Sheraton Hotels, Abuja on Tuesday as Meeds Consultancy commenced interviews for those willing to work in Saudi Arabia.
As early as 6.45am, medical doctors in various fields such as anaesthesia, ICU, paediatrics and surgery, family medicine and others stormed the venue for the interview which was organized on behalf of the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health.
It was noted that as at the 7:00am scheduled for the commencement of the interview, those who arrived at the large hall had a hectic time to get seats. Some of the doctors lamented the poor conditions of service, poor investment in the health sector, inconsistent salary payments among other.
A medical consultant, Ahmadu Balarabe, who works at a teaching hospital in the North-West said, “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.
“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.”
On the other hand, Dr. 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.”
A female doctor, who did not want her name in print, said, “When Nigerians are ready, they will march to Aso Rock and demand responsibility from this government. The President travels out to take care of his health, meanwhile, the health sector is dying back home.
“The interview is a week-long process. Today, as you can see, we are filling forms. There are other processes. I have not been briefed yet, but we have been told that the process is for a week.”
A staff member of the consulting firm affirmed that this was not the first time they were recruiting for the Saudi authorities. He said, “They know Nigeria has one of the best doctors in the world. Our doctors are well-valued outside the country. So, don’t blame anyone for leaving.”
The Vice-President, Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, Adejo Arome, in an commends the large number of individuals who came out who came out for the interview. He said “We have always encouraged people to look out for other options.
“The Nigerian government does not care about the welfare of doctors; so, the best thing to do is to look out for other opportunities and I am glad that people are gradually seeing the light.”
It was also gathered that another recruitment of medical registrars willing to relocate to Saudi Arabia will be held on Thursday.