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Bangladesh is for the first time sending its doctors and nurses to work in Saudi Arabia, following the Kingdom’s recent decision to approve their recruitment and qualifications.

According to Bangladesh Medical Association data, there are only a few dozen clinicians among nearly 3 million Bangladeshi expatriate workers residing in the Kingdom.

It was only in 2022 that an agreement on the recruitment of medics was signed by both countries and the first Bangladeshi health workers departed for the Kingdom in November 2023.

“For a long time, Saudi Arabia didn’t recruit any medical staff from Bangladesh. But now we started recruiting them, because they already reach our criteria,” Riyadh’s Ambassador to Dhaka Essa Al-Duhailan told Arab News.

While the initial group consisted of some 60 clinicians, it was just the beginning.

“This number, insha’Allah, will jump in the near future … It’s just to tickle the market and to see how it’s going,” Al-Duhailan said in an interview last week.

“A team from the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia already visited Bangladesh twice last year. And they will continue to visit Bangladesh to recruit more.”

The next group expected to depart for Saudi Arabia will consist of nurses.

“Kingdom authorities asked us to send over 150 trained nurses. Our ministry is now scrutinizing the demands, like where the Bangladeshi nurses will be employed, whether they will be employed by government-run hospitals or private health facilities, etc.,” said Khairul Alam, additional secretary at the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment.

He told Arab News that since the development is new, the government is now preparing mechanisms to streamline the recruitment of medics.

“We welcome this latest move from Saudi Arabia to appoint Bangladeshi health sector workers in the Kingdom, a country that is a key destination for our migrants. There are scopes to increase this opportunity further,” Alam said.

“A detailed recruitment policy will be prepared for this.”

Bangladesh’s more than 100 medical colleges produce large numbers of certified doctors, nurses and medics.

Working in the Kingdom with top-quality equipment also offers them learning opportunities.

“The more medical staffers we can send and the more we can upgrade them in terms of quality, the more it will create a win-win situation for both countries,” said Shariful Hasan, associate director of the migration program of BRAC, the largest development organization based in Bangladesh.

“Secondly, it will be helpful for our migrants … Our doctors, nurses, and medical staffers can also offer treatment to our migrants in the Kingdom.”

Currently, only 2 percent of Bangladeshi workers in the Kingdom are skilled professionals.

“As a result, we are exporting the highest number of migrants but receiving a lesser amount of remittance in comparison with the number of migrants. In this context, if we can send more skilled workforces, it will increase our remittance,” Hasan said.

“It will enhance our image as a source country of skilled workforce.”

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