In an effort to address the country’s shortage of healthcare professionals, Zimbabwe plans to enact a law that criminalizes the recruitment of its health personnel by other countries. The announcement was made by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Childcare.
Chiwenga described the recruitment of healthcare personnel from Zimbabwe as a form of human trafficking, and said it was contributing to the country’s healthcare crisis. He warned that stiffer penalties will be imposed on those who engage in this “heinous crime”, which he says is a violation of human rights.
“People are dying in hospitals because there are no nurses and doctors. That must be taken seriously,” Chiwenga said. “Zimbabwe frowns at this heinous crime which is also a grave violation of human rights.”
According to reports, more than 4,000 nurses and doctors have left Zimbabwe since February 2021, in search of better economic opportunities abroad. The country’s recurrent economic challenges, including wage decimation caused by inflation, have made it difficult for healthcare professionals to make ends meet.
Last month, the United Kingdom halted the recruitment of Zimbabwean health workers, following the country’s placement on the World Health Organisation’s red list. The red list designation means that Zimbabwe is facing serious health personnel challenges.
The Zimbabwean government’s move to criminalize the recruitment of healthcare personnel by other countries is seen as a way to retain its skilled workforce and address the healthcare crisis in the country. However, critics have raised concerns about the potential impact on the right of healthcare professionals to seek employment opportunities abroad.
The proposed law is yet to be enacted, and it remains to be seen how it will be implemented and enforced.