DHAKA: Bangladesh is considering a new opportunity to send its clinicians to Saudi Arabia, officials said on Wednesday, after an initial agreement was reached at a meeting of the Bangladesh-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission in Riyadh.
The 14th session of the joint commission was held on October 30 and 31 and focused on wide-ranging cooperation, including in the areas of energy, security, labor, investment and health.
During the meeting, the two countries agreed to form a business council to increase trade and a working group to strengthen energy cooperation. The two parties have also signed an expedited memorandum of understanding for the recruitment of Bangladeshi doctors.
“We have agreed to launch an executive program to bring Bangladeshi healthcare professionals to the Kingdom. Under this program, Bangladeshi doctors, nurses and other health professionals will have the opportunity to work in the Kingdom,” said Dr Mohammad Javed Patwary, Bangladeshi Envoy to Riyadh and Permanent Representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, at Arab News.
“A great evolution has taken place on this point,” he added.
“I hope this program will move forward very quickly. It’s almost final and I hope the agreement will be signed soon.
According to data from the Bangladesh Medical Association, only about 50 Bangladeshi clinicians reside in the Kingdom, which is also home to some 2.5 million expatriate workers from the South Asian country.
The possibility of increasing this number would not only improve the Kingdom’s workforce in the health sector, but would also be an investment in the quality of Bangladeshi doctors, given the superior quality of equipment in Saudi clinics. , according to Dr. Ehteshamul Huq Choudhury, the secretary general of the medical association.
“Sending health workers to the Kingdom will create win-win opportunities for both countries. The hospitals in the Kingdom are very well equipped with state-of-the-art technology. When our doctors and nurses work with this equipment, obviously it will increase their skills as well,” Choudhury told Arab News.
“Eventually, when they return home with these skills, they will be able to serve people at home.”
A job abroad would also help them retain their profession, as thousands of medical graduates in Bangladesh are now jobless despite their high level of education.
Bangladesh’s more than 100 medical colleges produce a large number of board-certified doctors, and many nursing graduates have earned master’s degrees. But the country’s health infrastructure is not able to accommodate them all.
“Right now, we have 110,000 registered doctors in the country while there are 123,000 trained nurses. Among them, the public health sector employs 40,000 doctors. The rest are either employed by the private sector or remain unemployed,” Choudhury said.
“To my knowledge, around 30,000 doctors are currently unemployed,” he added.
“If these health workers remain unemployed for a longer period of time, their knowledge and skills will somehow go off the rails.”
The number of clinicians Bangladesh could send to Saudi Arabia would depend on demand.
“But I think Saudi Arabia needs expert doctors, nurses and health technologists. This type of shortage is currently seen in many parts of the world, such as the UK, Australia, etc. said Choudhury.
“Since we have a large number of qualified doctors and qualified nurses, we can send as many as the Kingdom requires.”