How does WHO red listing affect Zimbabwean health workers?
The listing of Zimbabwe as red by the World Health Organisation has sent chills down the spines of most Zimbabweans who have sold their properties to grab a chance to go and work in the United Kingdom.
Many Zimbabwean care companies have started making last minute money harvest telling people to board on the last plane or risk being closed out.
Yes, Zimbabwe has been placed on the red list of countries that the United Kingdom cannot actively recruit health and social care workers from, to safeguard the country’s health care system, which has been affected by bulk recruitments by the UK.
The red listing is based upon the World Health Organisation Health (WHO) Workforce Support and Safeguard List, which is updated alongside scheduled progress reports on WHO Global Code implementation and reported to the World Health Assembly every three years.
The countries which will be listed will have a UHC Service Coverage Index that is lower than 50 and a density of doctors, nurses and midwives that is below the global median (48.6 per 10 000 population).
The list doesn’t prevent individual health and social care personnel from independently applying to health and social care employers for employment in the UK, of their own accord and without being targeted by a third party, such as a recruitment agency or employer (known as a direct application).
So in short, the red listing is meant to safeguard the health work force of a country and it is not a reflection of how the health system of a country is performing.
Contrary to what the detractors of the country were already saying, Zimbabwe’s health system is not on a death bed. So Zimbabwe’s placing on the red list of countries that the United Kingdom cannot actively recruit health and social care workers from, is to safeguard the country’s health care system, which has been affected by en mass recruitments by the UK.
The ban follows the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List 2023, which highlighted that eight countries have dangerously low numbers of healthcare workers.
“Health and social care organisations in England do not actively recruit from those countries the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognise as having the most pressing health and care workforce-related challenges unless there is a government-to-government agreement to support managed recruitment activities,” reads part of the new code.
The announcement by the United Kingdom that Zimbabwe is now on the red list therefore, active recruitment is not permitted from Zimbabwe has seen many Zimbabweans being ripped off by the employers and agents who are now misleading the desperate job seekers to quickly pay for a visa before they are closed out.
It should be noted that active international recruitment in the code is defined as the process by which UK health and social care employers target individuals to market UK employment opportunities, with the intention of recruiting to a role in the UK health or social care sector.
It includes both physical or virtual targeting, and whether or not these actions lead to substantive employment.
In a notice the UK government said the only exception to this definition is where a candidate has already been appointed by a UK employer following an independent direct application and selection without the support of a recruitment organisation, agency or collaboration.
In this case, if required, these organisations can support and facilitate the employee’s passage to the UK. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the recruitment organisation, agency or collaboration, if challenged, to provide evidence that the services they are providing are permitted under this exception.
Direct applications are not banned and are allowed. They are normally cheaper and people do not pay the extortions of thousands of pounds per person to get COS certificate of Sponsorship.
A direct application is when an individual makes an application directly and on their own behalf to an employing organising. Direct applications do not use a third party, such as a recruitment organisation, agency or collaboration.
Individual health and social care employers may consider direct applications from individuals who are residents in countries on the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List 2023 if they have made a direct application to a vacancy at their organisation.
A direct application can only be made in response to a vacancy that is hosted by and recruited to, the same sponsoring organisation.
Resident: For the purpose of this code of practice, ‘resident’ refers to the country an individual is living in when they apply for a health or social care job.
The rules on active recruitment and direct applications are based on the country within which an individual is a resident when they apply for a health or social care job, rather than the nationality of the individual or their original country of training.
Red and amber list countries: Countries on the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List are graded red, which means no active recruitment is permitted from these countries.
The WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List is updated by WHO every 3 years, or more frequently if required.
“Zimbabwe was not a part of that but now that placement by WHO means the UK and other countries may not actively recruit from the country. The UK has always had its own code in recruitment and therefore this placement gives them an even bigger interface to regularise if not completely stop the active recruitment directly by government agents from the UK,” said acting secretary of the Health Services Commission Mr Engelbert Mbengwa.
What Zimbabweans at home and those abroad should bear in mind is that carer workers are not commonly used in Zimbabwe. So the recruitment of carers from Zimbabwe does not affect the social care sector.
Of great interest is that most people who have left Zimbabwe for care work in England were not carers while in Zimbabwe. Most of them are teachers and several other professions. So the health system is not affected by the recruitment of carers from Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s health system is experiencing not much impact from the recruitment.
In other words, there is no need to rush and sale your properties. United Kingdom is not going anywhere.
Many Zimbabweans who flocked to the UK have said the UK is overrated. It does not offer what it says it offers. It is like a fiction movies promising all but none is real.
Many have regretted coming to the UK while some have seen a great change in their lives.
To those prophets of doom the red listing is not condemning Zimbabwe to the dustbin of health delivery. It should be realised that WHO is concerned that low-income countries may suffer further losses in their healthcare systems if active recruitment continues.
WHO is concerned that the negative health, economic and social impact of Covid-19, coupled with the increasing demand for health and care workers in high-income countries, might be increasing vulnerabilities within countries already suffering from low health workforce densities.
“Health and social care organisations in England do not actively recruit from those countries the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognise as having the most pressing health and care workforce-related challenges unless there is government-to-government agreement to support managed recruitment activities,” read part of the new code.
Zimbabwe joins Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania which are some of the countries on the red list. The country has in recent years seen a lot of health workers and health care givers leave the country for the UK.
A number of care givers training centres had also mushroomed across the country, with some rogue agencies making a killing by making locals pay to be employed abroad. Many Zimbabweans still fall victims to the rogue agents who are charging thousands to be employed abroad.