Over 2 000 Zimbabwean health workers resigned in 2021 to work abroad
A large number of Zimbabwean health professionals have left the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic to work in the United States, Britain, Australia, and neighboring states.
According to the government’s Health Service Board, more than 2,200 left the country this year, and this is more than double the number of doctors, nurses and pharmacists who left last year, and three times the number that left in 2019.
Officials say the exodus has affected an already fragile health system, which suffers from a lack of medical equipment and medicines.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum of 23 doctors per 10,000 people, which Zimbabwe is far from meeting.
When the last survey was done in 2015, there was an average of just 1.6 doctors per 10,000 people.
Despite repeated government promises to improve wages they remain low. An average worker in the public sector takes homes less than $200 a month, while in the UK – which relaxed visa restrictions for health workers in 2020 – they can earn 10 times as much.
Some activists have referred to Africa’s medical brain drain as a crime, stirring a debate on the morality and legality of international medical recruitment.
In a 2011 article published by The Lancet, a British medical journal, the aid workers wrote, “High-income countries, such as Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the US, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK have sustained their relatively high physician-to-population ratio by recruiting medical graduates from developing regions, including countries in sub-Saharan Africa.