As healthcare workers fight the COVID-19 pandemic across the world, nurses from Kerala are on the frontlines of the battle. A 2017 report by the World Health Organisation states that “India is a major source of supply for nurses overseas.” Nurses who emigrated from Kerala comrpise a large part of that overseas workforce.
The WHO report added, “Nurses trained in India form a significant portion of internationally educated nurses working overseas, second to nurses trained in the Philippines. It is estimated that over 30% of nurses who studied in Kerala work in the United Kingdom or the United States of America, with 15% in Australia and 12% in the Middle East.”
In a British Broadcasting Corporation video that has recently been shared on social media, Anna Soubry, a former British parliamentarian, is seen acknowledging the contribution of nurses from Kerala to the country’s healthcare system. Until last year, Soubry represented the Broxtowe constituency in the UK’s Nottinghamshire county. She has previously served as the parliamentary under-secretary of state for public health. In the BBC clip, Soubry said, “I don’t have a problem with people coming to work in our country from overseas. Some of the best nurses, that we learn from actually, are nurses from south India, from Kerala in particular.”
I spoke to nurses from Kerala who are currently working in the United Kingdom. The country has over 14,000 confirmed COVID cases, and atleast 759 people have died from the virus. The nurses described what it has been like on the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ancy Anto is a nurse working in a hospital in the city of Oxfordshire. She said that even one month ago, when COVID cases were coming in, there was a separate area set up, away from the hospital, for patients with COVID symptoms and for those coming from countries where the number of confirmed COVID cases were higher. “I work in a medicine ward where elderly patients are treated,” she told me. “Now there is an effort to increase the availability of beds in the hospital to contain the scenario. Along with that, the patients who do not need emergency care are being discharged from the hospital.”