IOM, University of Zimbabwe Partner in Diaspora Skills Transfer Initiative

Migration Health, Migration and Development

Harare – The UN Migration Agency, IOM and the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences on 9 September signed a Cooperation Agreement on Diaspora Skills Transfer Initiative to facilitate the voluntary return of health professionals in the diaspora on a short-term basis. The initiative also is designed to provide their health expertise in exchanges with their home communities and to address at the College of Health Sciences any identified skills deficits in Zimbabwe. 

The programme will strengthen the capacity of health science lecturers at the college to produce adequately skilled and well-equipped health professionals.

In her remarks, IOM Zimbabwe Chief of Mission, Lily Sanya, reaffirmed IOM’s commitment to supporting national governments in creating platforms for diaspora engagement to harness their development potential. “The signing of this Cooperation Agreement is a major milestone in Zimbabwe’s endeavours to progressively enhance her engagement and empowerment of her diaspora to contribute towards national development,” she said.

Speaking at the same occasion, Margret Chirapa, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe National Commission for UNESCO said, “Zimbabwe has a huge skills deficit in the health and tertiary education sectors as a result of unprecedented flight of skilled professionals or “brain drain” which has hampered efforts in sustainable development.” Chirapa further added that according to the National Critical Skills Audit (2018), there is an overall 95 per cent shortage of skills in the health and medical sector with a percentage shortage above 80 per cent for specialist medical fields. 

It is envisaged that the Diaspora Skills Transfer Initiative will contribute to addressing the skills gap by facilitating the temporary return of at least 60 expert Zimbabwean health and tertiary education professionals who will be attached to health and higher education institutions for periods ranging from three to four weeks. 

Under this diaspora skills transfer initiative, IOM will undertake screening, pre-selection of applicants, provide airfares as well as subsistence expenses for selected health professionals and facilitate their placement in health training institutions in Zimbabwe. For its part the University of Zimbabwe will conduct matching and selection of lecturers to teach within the College of Health Sciences and provide a conducive environment, equipment, facilities, support materials during their placement.

University of Zimbabwe Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Mapfumo expressed optimism that the skills transfer initiative is going to enable the college to tap into the Zimbabwean health care experts in the diaspora to bridge the skills gap especially in short staffed disciplines and those departments which have recently introduced new training programs but have challenges attracting the relevant expertise locally.

“Quality training is an ever-enduring value at the University of Zimbabwe with a view to produce internationally competitive graduates. The initiative we are witnessing today will definitely contribute to enhancement of quality training and subsequently quality health care provision,” added Professor Mapfumo. 

The Diaspora Skills Transfer Initiative is part of the Promoting Migration Governance in Zimbabwe (PMGZ) project, implemented by IOM with funding support from the European Union under the framework of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and co-funded by IOM Development Fund (IDF). One of the intended results for the project is improved neutral platforms for dialogue and schemes through which Zimbabweans in the diaspora contribute to decision making and national development 

For further information, please contact: Gideon Madera, IOM Zimbabwe Tel: +263 772863172, Email:

  • Lily Sanya, IOM Chief of Mission, and Professor Paul Mapfumo, Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, signing the Cooperation Agreement. Photo: IOM/Gideon Madera