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Zimbabwe is Losing its Frontline Workers Over Working Conditions

A huge exodus of health professionals amid the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting Zimbabwe hard with more than 2,200 leaving to take jobs in the US, UK, Australia, and neighbouring states. According to the government’s Health Service Board, 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.