Zimbabwe’s Vice President Constantino Chiwenga announced that the country intends to pass legislation that would ban other countries from hiring it’s health professionals.
The move aims to prevent the loss of valued medical professionals to other countries, which has long been a problem for Zimbabwe’s healthcare system.
Chiwenga, who is also health minister, said the loss of health workers is akin to human trafficking.
He suggested imposing harsher penalties on those he claimed had robbed the nation of its human capital.
“If one deliberately recruits and makes the country suffer, that’s a crime against humanity. 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.
More than 4,000 nurses and doctors have left Zimbabwe since February 2021, according to local media.
The UK National Health Service is an attractive target for doctors and nurses in Zimbabwe as salaries are much higher than those paid at home.
Last month Britain halted hiring of health workers in Zimbabwe after the World Health Organization placed the South African country on its red list, marking countries facing serious challenges for health workers.
According to the Zimbabwe Medical Association, there are approximately 3,500 doctors in the country for a population of 15 million.
Zimbabwe is facing an economic crisis characterized by high inflation which has led to a significant drop in wages.