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“The Minister of Health and Welfare will be authorized to recruit foreign specialists to work in public hospitals.” This sentence, appearing in the annex to the 2024-25 Budget, has raised eyebrows among various medical associations. This approach does not fit with the role of the Minister of Health, they say.

“In order to strengthen the capacity of the public health sector to provide high quality services and protect the health of all citizens, the Minister of Health and Wellness will be authorized to recruit foreign specialists to practice in the public hospitals. » This sentence, which appears in section B10 (p. 35) of the annex to the 2024-25 Budget, raises questions. It would be “serious” if a Minister of Health could proceed to recruit foreign specialists, point out Dr Meetheelesh Abeeluck of the Government Medical and Dental Officers Association (GMDOA) and Dr Bhooshun Ramtohul of the Government Medical Consultant in Charge Association (GMCiCA). Dr Vinesh Sewsurn considers, for his part, that measures should have been taken to retain our health professionals.

According to Dr. Abeeluck, this measure goes against normal procedures. “It is not the prerogative of the minister to carry out recruitment. It’s an administrative procedure,” he explains. Lack of precision in this regard, he hopes that it is a typing error, because recruitment is done by the ministry with the Senior Chief Executive (SCE), who launches an international call for foreign candidates, explains the president of the GMDOA. For him, it is up to the Medical Council, the Ministry of Health and the Public Service Commission (PSC) to manage these issues. “How can this power be given to the minister, and how can he surpass all these institutions? » he asks himself.

Dr Ramtohul adds that this approach can prove dangerous without an adequate structure to carry out an evaluation of the specialists that the government proposes to recruit. He recalls that a few years ago, a delegation of officials from the Ministry of Health went to India to recruit doctors, but it ended in failure, according to him. He believes that the “package” that was offered to them was not attractive.

The president of the GMCiCA blames this situation on the human resources department of the Ministry of Health, which is facing difficulties. “The department should have forecast the number of specialists that the health system would need with all the ongoing developments and made a plan for training to this effect,” he believes. For him, if specialists must be recruited, they must be high-level health professionals.

Dr Ramtohul also advocates for standardization of doctors and fears, like Dr Vinesh Sewsurn, president of the Medical and Health Officers Association (MHOA), that there will be a language barrier with foreign doctors, particularly in the emergency department. . He points out that the authorities are building hospitals and various health centers, but are not recruiting enough staff, as noted by Dr. Abeeluck. “We must recruit and train officers, whether they are nurses, doctors or paramedics. We should have taken measures to retain our health professionals. With the growing number of private clinics, we are facing an exodus,” he points out.

Incentives

Dr Sewsurn adds that new graduates are not interested in the public health service. “We should have proposed measures to motivate them to join or stay in the public health system,” he says. The president of the MHOA believes that we should definitely not return to the situation of the early 2000s, when foreign doctors were in office and the population suffered from a language barrier. “We must trust our young general practitioners and give them all the necessary opportunities to specialize in the areas required by the ministry,” he said.

A source at the Medical Council says the public health service unfortunately does not have enough specialist doctors to cover every corner of the public service. “Recruiting foreign specialists under contract becomes necessary to compensate for the lack of doctors,” he says.

Registration of doctors goes through the Medical Council. If foreign doctors cannot pass the Post Graduate Medical Examination Board exam, they cannot practice in Mauritius. The PSC will not employ them. It is the Ministry of Health which will employ them under a one-year or two-year contract, renewable, specifies our source at the Medical Council.

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