Zimbabwe intends to introduce legislation that would make it a criminal offense for other countries to recruit health workers from its workforce. This has resulted due to the current brain drain among nurses and doctors in the country. More than 4,000 nurses and doctors have left Zimbabwe since February 2021, seeking better working conditions abroad, with the UK’s National Health Service being a popular destination.
However, the UK halted the recruitment of Zimbabwean health workers last month after the country was placed on the World Health Organisation’s red list due to serious health personnel challenges. Having a nation placed on the red list signifies that it is facing a significant shortage of health workers. According to the Zimbabwe Medical Association, the country has only 3,500 doctors to serve a population of fifteen million people.
The Vice-President and Health Minister, Constantino Chiwenga, likened the drain of healthcare professionals to human trafficking. He intends to impose stiffer penalties on those who rob the nation of its human capital, which the government considers a crime against humanity and a violation of human rights. The current economic crisis in Zimbabwe with inflation and poor salaries has made the profession unattractive, thus seeking greener pastures in other countries, mostly the United Kingdom.