This rant is pretty long so I’m breaking down into 2 parts. It’s about my attempt to integrate into the Sudan health civil service through the ministry of health. One would think that with the absurd rate of migration especially that of health workers the government would try holding onto those remaining (or crazy enough to actually come back from abroad like myself) instead of putting every possible and impossible obstacle in front of them.
For the doctors, the usual pathway after graduation is as follows:
1. After obtaining your releasing papers from university (not the actual certificate), you start the process of temporary registration in the medical council. This includes taking the Hippocrates oath (which is a really big issue but apparently mostly people just sit deaf through the whole thing, say ‘I do’ and move on with their lives). This temporary registration licenses doctors to work as a house officer/intern
2. Then you head to the employment committee HQ in Riyadh (next t Havana) where you will obtain a job number
3. The process of employment and internship isn’t clear for me at this point, since after waiting for 4 months for my name to come up I then moved to Oman and started my internship there. Someone told me my name appeared in October, 7 months after graduating
4. After completing the internship period one is then obliged to take the permanent registration exam (or like everyone likes to call it: emte7an albermanat) which was previously linked to national service (alkhidma) but later this was changed and people can take the exam without completing the previously required 6 months
5. After passing the exam (which everyone does unless they studied geography or mechanics and had no basic knowledge of how the human body works), a few more procedures are completed and fees are paid, after which one obtains their permanent registration in the medical council and can then apply for a residency program or continue work as a medical officer and go their own way.
After completing my internship in Oman I came back to Sudan for a couple of months to try and complete steps 4 and 5. However, all those practicing abroad (internship and onwards) are required to complete a specific period of time working in Sudan as an equalization process. I applied to the council and they ordered me to complete 4 weeks in each specialty, totaling to 16 weeks. By the time this decision had come out I had already been offered a post back in Oman, which gave me only 45 days off during the entire year, and to complete this period I would need more than 3 years which didn’t make sense. Also, I had trained in a high quality teaching hospital with hands on experience and it was just ridiculous. The people who had finished before me were exempted from any extra work. So after appealing the council’s decision (and regrettably pulling a few strings) the council relooked into my case and decided to let me off. They then gave me their printed decision of exemption, which I used to apply for the exam, and then lost. I waited for about over a year and timed the exam with the elections, got on a plane and came home, voted against Albashir, took the exam 3 days later, passed and got on the plane back home. A year later I came back and completed all remaining procedures and received my certificate of permanent registration.
Then came the national service hassle. Every time I would come to Sudan and attempt to leave I would be faced with the issue of the travel card. People aren’t allowed to leave the country if they’re anywhere between the age of 18 and 65 if they haven’t completed their national service, unless they have proof and permission of working abroad or being exempt from it. Every year I would have to go through an annoying process of obtaining travel permission, paying 100 pounds and then getting a travel card which would be shown to some guy at the airport and then thrown in the trash a minute later. It was so annoying. I tried to start my national service so that I could work during my holidays, but I wasn’t allowed to and was told I had to be in the country for the entire year of service. So when I got it into my head to leave Oman, the first thing I did was start my recruitment process into national service, not because I wanted to serve my country (on minimum wage), but because I wanted that national service out of my hair once and for all. I was advised by pretty much everyone to buy my way out of it; an idea that I find nauseous and refuse by principle. I got a job with the national Public Health Institute which is a part of the training directorate of the ministry of health. I completed all required procedures and settled into a long year of service for the equivalent of $110 a month. At the end of the year we were informed that a set of jobs had appeared in the ministry and we were required to bring all our papers.
So here’s the thing. There are no jobs in the civil service of Sudan. I know that doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t. But the deteriorating economical condition of the country has given the government an excuse to downsize and cut down on the number of its civil servants. Basic salaries are pathetic and people generally live on allowances, so that when they retire their pensions are pretty much chicken feed. The vast majority of those working with the government are on contracts, which gives them no social insurance and no rights whatsoever. That’s the way around it. So when a job comes up, paid with whatever benefits there are, it’s no joke. And a job came up with my name on it. There was just one problem. I hadn’t done my internship in Sudan, and I hadn’t been paid anything by the government before, and so I couldn’t enter the system from the 9th grade which is the entry point. I had to start from scratch, which I hadn’t. National service is a separate entity and having bypassed the ministry to get to it, it was like I hadn’t worked at all. According to the records of the ministry of health, I didn’t exist in the system. Yaaa jama3a, keif alkalam da?
To be continued.