20th July 2017 – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has facilitated the return of 13 Sierra Leonean Medical Doctors that were stranded in Venezuela after completion of their studies in October last year.
The newly graduated medics, who went to Venezuela on scholarship since 2010 arrived in Sierra Leone on the 24th June 2017.
Speaking on behalf of a cross section of her colleagues during a courtesy call on the Minister of State I, Rosalitta Toogeabu profusely expressed thanks and appreciation to the Minister and officials of the Ministry for their relentless and selfless effort in facilitating the provision of air tickets to return home. She highlighted several challenges encountered during their course of study in Venezuela, which she attributed to the political and economic situation in the country. Amidst all these challenges she further disclosed, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs including the Minister of State I, Director of Multilateral and International Organisations, and Ambassador Bockarie Stevens in Washington DC, who on a yearly basis, paid them visit to assess their plight and then take necessary actions. ‘We are here to express our sincere gratitude to the Minister and the Ministry in particular, for such concern for us’, she added.
Madam Rosalitta Toogeabu appealed to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to fast track their deployment, so that they could join their colleagues in the profession to complement government’s effort in delivering quality health services to the people. ‘We have completed our registration process with the Medical and Dental Council’, she ended.
Responding on behalf of the Honourable Minister and the Ministry, the Director General, Ambassador Khadijatu Bassir, expressed appreciation and gratitude to the newly trained medical doctors for the love of their country, particularly the patriotic consideration to come back home to serve after working assiduously to achieve their academic goals.
The Director General lamented that the intention of government was not to expose their students to an unrest environment, neither to let them experience an unfavourable situation; noting that the Venezuela government was not also expecting their current economic hardship which has become also unbearable for her citizens.
She highlighted some of the challenges that the government of Sierra Leone is facing as result of the Ebola epidemic, specifically, the adverse impact on the economy, which created the delay in their repatriation. Notwithstanding, Ambassador Khadijatu Bassir stated, the Ministry, through the Embassy in Washington DC worked tirelessly to ensure their safe repatriation to Sierra Leone. ‘The Ministry will also continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that the remaining students in Venezuela return home safely after the completion of their courses’, she concluded.