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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Coronavirus Cases Increasing Among Nurses in Saudi Arabia


After they put their health at risk in order to care for their patients, the Health Ministry blames them for spreading the virus and fines them--just the female nurses, that is.

What the article in the above link doesn't mention is the fact that there's a huge shortage of nurses in Saudi Arabia. As a result, hospitals are contracting with nurses from countries such as the Philippines, who have a hard time finding employment opportunities in their own countries. Once those nurses are in Saudi Arabia, however, hospital administrators make it difficult for them to leave.

The contracts with the foreign nurses are extremely one-sided and laden with terms favorable the hospitals. When they want to take vacation time that they legitimately accrued and want to travel abroad, the foreign nurse employees eventually find themselves at the mercy of the hospital employers who don't want the nurses to leave because of the nurse shortage.

The employers frequently deny nurses' vacation requests and delay the processing of the kind of paperwork that would be essential for the nurses to meet foreign travel requirements.  In the meantime, the overworked foreign nurses are assigned to work with patients who have the coronavirus.  But since the nurses realize that many if not most of the coronavirus patients are nurses who contracted the virus by working with other coronavirus patients, they typically don't want to be assigned to these patients because they fear for their own safety. 

But now the problem is worse for the nurses who want to take their vacations and go back home to countries like the Philippines.  Increasingly, because of the fear of being exposed to the coronavirus, and because of the difficulty the hospitals make it for them to get out of Saudi Arabia, the nurses who have been granted vacation time and have gone home have decided to stay home and not return to Saudi Arabia to complete the full contract terms with the Saudi hospitals.  This has made the hospital administrators even more reluctant to cooperate with legitimate vacation requests by the foreign nurses.  The result is that their employment situation is now tantamount to involuntary servitude.