Saudi train — The Nation Editorial

Posted by News Express | 29 August 2021 | 388 times

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Large band of consultants and medical registrars, interviewing for Saudi jobs, is troubling

It is both troubling and disgraceful – an armada of top notch Nigerian medical professionals, trooping out for job interviews, on behalf of Saudi Arabia. The double optics of professional panic and near-hopelessness can’t be lost on anyone.

As consultants and medical registrars are interviewing for foreign jobs, in the federal capital, resident doctors, young Turks and future elite medics, are on national strike! If it were in the army, it would be red-neck generals and the corpus of captains and majors, under fierce attack, at the same time! It looks very damning, indeed!  But it is all the more perplexing because most of these medics have had their education and training heavily subsidised by the Nigerian state. To train with scarce resources, yet lose all, in such a wayward way, does not add up.

Prof. Kenneth Ozoilo, president of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), told The Nation that about 500 consultants were interviewed, at the Abuja Saudi recruitment.  He revealed that a parallel recruitment, is ongoing in Lagos.   Putting Nigerian medical consultants at 5,000, he said if the 500 got the job, Nigeria risked losing 10% of its entire stock of high-end medical experts.  Since consultants teach and train junior doctors, the multiplier and negative effects, on the quality of future consultants, are clear.

The experts that Saudi Arabia is poaching include specialists in anaesthesia/intensive care, internal medicine, paediatrics, surgery, family medicine, ophthalmology, obstetrics and gynaecology. Others are orthopaedics, radiology, haematology, histopathology and otorhinolarygology (ear, nose and throat disease experts).

If foreign hiring agencies poach these much consultants from these fields, and also descend on corresponding registrars (the next in the medic expertise hierarchy), the future of medical practice and public health in Nigeria appears well and truly bleak.

Which is why both the government, and the various guilds of medical professionals, must think seriously about this crisis; and engage one another on the urgent imperative of solving it. While the government must fast-pace efforts to meet the doctors’ personal comfort and practice sanity and fulfillment, the doctors too must exhibit uncommon patriotism, from the present crisis point, to a future promised land.

But let’s be clear: the government – federal and states – must act and act fast.  In this age of globalisation, Labour will follow the ultimate and most beneficial reward for its sweat. So, economically and rationally, no one can fault medics for seeking better deals elsewhere. But that is why Nigerian governments must stop taking their prized medics for granted.

A medical professional is immersed, for life, in his or her trade.  They stay longest in medical school, in comparison to other classical professions as Law and Engineering.  After, it’s a fretful relay: train further or perish! Each phase of training, from post-medical school housemanship, to residency; from medical registrar to consultancy, in the various fields, is sapping and exacting. Yet, there is little or no material benefit to boast – in terms of decent earnings in real terms, or composite welfare packages.

The Federal Ministry of Health, with sister health ministries in the states, must put heads together and come up with a befitting package to correct the parlous remunerations and stanch the exodus. This is as much due duty to our sweating but hardly appreciated doctors, as it is asset preservation for federal and state health authorities.

The Nigerian state spent – and continues to spend – so much, in subsidising medics’ education and training, among tertiary education subsidy across the board.  So, giving doctors far better deals is a smart way to preserve that investment; and put it to the greatest use of the greatest number, to parody Jeremy Bentham’s greatest happiness of the greatest number.

Source: News Express

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