Saudi Arabia shops for Nigerian doctors, holds recruitment exercise in Lagos

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Many medical doctors in Nigeria have applied for job positions with the Saudi Arabia ministry of health.

The recruitment exercise was organised by the ministry in conjunction with Successlink Consult in Ikeja, Lagos state capital, on Sunday.

The job offer was for consultants and specialists in all medical fields, excluding psychiatrists.

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Among those present for the interview were medical consultants and doctors in various areas of specialisation.

It was gathered that each applicant paid N10,000 as the application fee after which medical certificates, means of identification, and other documents were tendered at the point of documentation.

After payment, the medical doctors were screened before a panel of Saudi Arabian personnel.

Speaking with TheCable, one of the applicants who specialises in hematology — a branch of medicine concerned with the study of blood, the blood-forming organs, and blood diseases — described the screening as the “shortest interview of my life”.

“I showed them my original documents before going in and also presented the duplicates which they took to the interviewers. After making the payment, I was taken inside for the interview. The interview lasted like one minute, I think it’s the shortest interview of my life,” he said.

“I have been hearing about such recruitments for a while but I have never applied. This is my first time.”

This is not the first time Saudi Arabia will woo Nigerian medical doctors with job offers.

In March 2019, a similar exercise was held at a popular hotel in Lagos while another took place in Abuja.

At the time, Chris Ngige, minister of labour and productivity, had claimed that there is nothing wrong with doctors leaving Nigeria as the country has “more than enough” medical personnel.

“There are surplus in their country and we also have surplus in the medical profession in our country. I can tell you this. In my area, we have excess,” Ngige had said.

“Who said we don’t have enough doctors? We have more than enough. You can quote me. There is nothing wrong in them travelling out.”

But a fact check by TheCable revealed that the minister’s claim is false as WHO data showed that Nigeria is among the countries with a very poor doctor-to-patient ratio as of 2013 — which is the most recent data.

The latest recruitment exercise comes amid ongoing strike action by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

The doctors had commenced the strike on August 1 over “irregular payment of salaries”, among other issues.

Efforts by the house of representatives to mediate between the federal government and NARD ended in a deadlock.

Over the years, medical doctors have engaged in strike actions while agitating for improved welfare conditions and increased allocation to the health sector.

In April, resident doctors had embarked on a strike action to protest their poor remuneration and conditions of service.

Prior to the time, the doctors had engaged in a similar action in September 2020 amid rising COVID-19 cases.

Reports that a Nigerian doctor gets N5,000 as monthly hazard allowance while senators are paid 248 times higher (N1.24 million) to buy newspapers monthly.

This situation, among others, has forced many medical doctors to leave the country in search of greener pastures.

In 2018, research by Africa Check showed that at least 12 doctors leave Nigeria for the UK every week.

The Cable

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