The Sunday Mail
Debra Matabvu and Emmanuel Kafe
MORE than 4,000 health workers have left Zimbabwe since the start of last year, but many have fallen victim to dodgy recruitment agencies taking advantage of the aggressive search for health workers by wealthy countries, especially the Kingdom United, established The Sunday Mail.
However, the government is currently putting in place measures to manage the situation.
The exodus of health workers from Zimbabwe and many other developing countries to the UK, among other countries, is driven by the increased demand for health workers in developed countries, whose health systems have been strained by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The latest statistics from the Health Service Board (HSB) show that more than 4,000 healthcare workers resigned from public institutions between January 2021 and November this year.
Of that figure, 2,910 quit last year alone, while 1,561 left their jobs between January and November this year.
Overall, this includes 1,772 Registered Nurses (RGNs) who resigned last year alone and the 976 who left this year.
However, the number of health workers who resigned from private facilities, who are also affected, could not be determined last week.
Deputy Minister of Health and Childcare, Dr John Mangwiro, said the government was gradually improving working conditions for health workers to cope with the growing challenge.
“We work above all to improve working conditions. This includes ensuring that there are medicines in hospitals and equipment. The government is working to ensure that the same conditions offered to nurses in other countries are offered locally.
Zimbabwe’s health workers are highly trained, and many of them are employees of choice around the world.
But some health workers who are willing to work overseas, particularly as health care aides, fall victim to predatory agencies.
Sunday Mail surveys show carers pay up to £5,000 each to recruitment agencies to get jobs in the UK.
They also have to pay additional fees on their salaries.
Responding to questions from the Sunday Mail, a spokesperson for the British Embassy in Zimbabwe said “the Embassy is concerned at reports of mistreatment of some Zimbabwean social workers by private recruitment agencies”.
The embassy has urged potential workers to read their contracts before signing them.
“Zimbabwean workers using the services of a private recruitment agency to secure employment in the UK should check their contracts in full before signing. If a worker feels they are the victim of illegal activity, they should report it to the proper authorities,” she said.
Local health facilities offering three-month nursing aide training courses also charge between $300 and $350.
The government is currently in the process of establishing Migrant Resource Centers (MRCs) which will help provide Zimbabweans with essential information on matters relating to safe formal labor migration.
The Minister of Civil Service, Labor and Social Affairs, Professor Paul Mavima, said the resource centers will serve as centers for the dissemination of information on the rights of migrants.
“The facilities will also help by providing returnees with information on their return, among many other essential services on migrants,” he said, adding that the move was in line with labor migration policy. signed by President Mnangagwa in 2019 and national development. Strategy (NDS1).
A UK-based practical nurse has shared with this post how she was scammed by a recruitment agency who helped her find a job in England.
When she applied for the job, she was promised at least £12.50 an hour, but was paid £8, as a recruitment agency (name provided) facilitated her work permit and his visa made up the difference.
She was not informed of this arrangement beforehand.
She had only paid a recruitment fee of almost £5,000.
“These intermediaries are mostly Zimbabweans living in the UK. They do not explain in detail when applying through them how much they will deduct from your salary. I don’t have much choice now but to work until the five-year contract expires,” she revealed.
Some private agencies, victims say, even hold passports and other essential documents until payment is made.
Social workers’ visas are tied to their employers, making them reluctant to report such cases for fear of deportation.
The Sunday Mail approached one of the recruitment agencies.
In a conversation on WhatsApp, the recruitment agency said its fees for carers who wanted to work in care homes and be paid £13 an hour would be around £5,000.
“This includes a ‘placement package’, including a certificate of sponsorship and visa application assistance. You should send in your IELTS (International English Language Testing System), police certificate, tuberculosis test and driving license as soon as possible as applications for this year are about to close,” a representative said. of the agency.