Zimbabwe media reports that thousands of local nurses and ancillary health workers have left for the United Kingdom (UK) in the last 20 years, and many more are desperate to join them for better wages and working conditions which they are not getting at home.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries on the red-list by the UK government, which restricts the recruitment of international health and social care workers. The World Health Organization (WHO) Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List grades countries as red, amber, or green based on their eligibility for international recruitment. Countries graded red are not permitted any active recruitment, and Zimbabwe is among the countries on this list.
Thursday 23 March 2023 the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) published a revised Code of Practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel in England.
The UK said they are committed to ensuring ethical recruitment practices operate within the UK’s public and private health and social care sectors through adherence to the Code of Practice for International Recruitment.
The Code sets out responsibilities for recruiters, employers, and the government on how to maintain ethical recruitment on an ongoing basis.
Comoros, Laos, Rwanda, Samoa, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have been added the Code of Practice red list. This means all active international recruitment from these countries will need to stop with immediate effect.
Meanwhile, countries graded amber will allow recruitment only in compliance with the terms of the government-to-government agreement. The WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List is updated every three years, or more frequently if required, and changes to the list may be made on an ad hoc basis as government-to-government agreements are signed.
The guidelines have been implemented to support the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, which aims to promote ethical practices and address the issues of health workforce shortages in developing countries.The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is facing a shortage of health and social care workers, and the country has been relying on recruiting from abroad to fill the gaps. However, the guidelines aim to ensure that the recruitment process is ethical and sustainable while also safeguarding the health workforce in the source countries.
The UK government has assured that the guidelines will be implemented with utmost care and sensitivity, taking into account the needs of both the UK and the source countries. While Zimbabwe is currently on the red-list, there is a possibility for the country to be upgraded to the amber-list in the future with the signing of a government-to-government agreement.
In light of these guidelines, employers, recruitment organizations, agencies, collaborations, and contracting bodies are encouraged to check the red and amber country list for updates before initiating any recruitment drive. Health and social care workers’ organizations in Zimbabwe have expressed concerns over the restrictions, calling for more efforts to address the issue of health workforce shortages in the country.