Al-Hassan, who is also Secretary General of the Mauritanian Syndicate of Professors and University Hospital Researchers, said that when the college was founded in 2006, teachers were seconded from Senegal and Algeria but since then, the authorities have only twice shown their willingness to employ Mauritanian staff.
So far, eight cohorts of students have graduated, but most have had to travel to neighboring Arab countries such as Tunisia or Algeria to complete their specialization.
One of them, Jamal Yousif, 29, moved to Tunisia to study renal diseases and transplantation in a teaching hospital on a four-year scholarship.
Kidney diseases and transplants are among specialties not taught in Mauritania; others include chest diseases and thoracic surgery, infectious bacterial diseases, diabetes, and orthognathic and aesthetic surgery.
In a phone call, Yousif, a former leading member of the Resident Doctors Syndicate in Mauritania, said “there are no specialized professors to teach these studies to graduates.” He said the state has also failed to provide scholarships for the majority of students willing to do their residency and specialties abroad.
Yousif plans to return to his country after completing his studies at the end of the year but is not optimistic about finding a job in the health sector.
“Despite the scarcity of doctors, the government always prefers to contract doctors of other nationalities to fill the deficit with exorbitant money,” he said. “Their salaries are ten times what a Mauritanian doctor gets, and vacancies are not announced to accommodate graduates.”
Mohammed, the strike coordinator, said students were ready to resume the action. “We have given them enough time to implement our demands,” he said.