Zimbabwe has announced plans to pass a law that would criminalise the recruitment of health workers by other countries.
The country wants to stop the brain drain in the health sector and believes this move could be a game changer.
The Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga who is also the health minister, likened drain of health care professionals to human trafficking.
More than 4,000 nurses and doctors have left Zimbabwe since February 2021 for better working conditions abroad, local media has reported.
The UK’s National Health Service has been an attractive destination for such Zimbabwean doctors and nurses.
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In the UK they get better wages than those paid back home. But the UK halted the recruitment of Zimbabwean health workers last month.
This was after the southern African country was placed by the World Health Organisation on the red list.
Having a country placed on such a red list means the country is facing serious health personnel challenges.
According to the Zimbabwe Medical Association, the country has about 3,500 doctors for a population of 15 million people.
He said stiffer penalties will be imposed on those he accused of robbing the nation of its human capital.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga told journalists that the government wants considered the crisis a crime against humanity.
“If one deliberately recruits and makes the country suffer, that’s a crime against humanity. The people are dying in hospitals because there are no nurses and doctors. That must be taken seriously,” Mr Chiwenga said on Wednesday.
“Zimbabwe frowns at this heinous crime which is also a grave violation of human rights,” he added.
Zimbabwe economic crisis has made it unattractive to many health workers who constantly complain about poor wages decimated by endless inflation.