Zimbabwe plans to enact a law criminalising the recruitment of its health personnel by other countries, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga has said.
Mr Chiwenga, who is also the health minister, said the drain of health care professionals was as good as human trafficking.
He said stiffer penalties will be imposed on those he accused of robbing the nation of its human capital.
“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.
Local media say more than 4,000 nurses and doctors have left Zimbabwe since February 2021.
The UK’s National Health Service has been an attractive destination for Zimbabwean doctors and nurses as wages are far higher than those paid back home.
Last month, the UK halted the recruitment of Zimbabwean health workers after the southern African country was placed by the World Health Organisation on the red list, which denotes countries 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.
Zimbabwe battles recurrent economic challenges that have seen wages decimated by endless inflation.