By Daniel Shane
Move to recruit healthcare professionals comes amid widespread labour crackdown
Healthcare authorities in Saudi Arabia have announced plans to recruit 3,500 medical professionals from abroad to fill vacancies at various hospitals throughout the kingdom.
According to English language newspaper Arab News, the Ministry of Health is seeking to hire doctors and nurses from countries including India, Pakistan and Egypt.
The publication said that officials had visited the countries in order to interview candidates.
The move comes as Saudi Arabia, which spends about SR700bn ($187bn) per year on healthcare, cracks down heavily on foreign workers in other sectors.
According to some estimates, the world’s largest oil exporter has deported more than 137,000 illegal overseas workers in the month since an amnesty ended at the start of November.
The country, about a third of whose 22m population consists of foreign workers, had for decades turned a blind eye to irregularities in the paperwork of blue collar labourers.
The system by which Saudi recruits overseas labourers had been rife with abuse, with local sponsors in some cases setting up bogus companies in order to sell visas at extortionate rates.
The current crackdown is part of efforts to get more Saudi nationals into private sector work.
Recruiting of this magnitude, plus the added expense of relocation, benefits, transportation, etcetera will ultimately result in a substantial investment. Iâ€™m not disputing the need, but Iâ€™m curious why telemedicine are not being considered as viable options for some aspects, particularly in applications for specialists. Given a full turnkey integrated health care eco system (available in India), or a straight forward video conferencing (HD) setup with cross boarder-contracted specialist, a quality lower cost program can be implemented. ROI is realized quickly and forward looking savings can be partially invested in analytics that project disease migration and developing mobile technologies that use smart phones and tablets to monitor vital signs over distance (nationally or internationally). Cross boarder agreements between health ministries, especially in Egypt, India, and Pakistan, would expedite the process while giving the Ministry of Health more control.