In recent years, India has emerged as the largest exporter of medical professionals in the world. And it did not happen overnight. Physicians from our country have been migrating to foreign nations for many decades now. As a result, Indian doctors today play an essential role in the healthcare sector of these nations. Our country’s medical emigration could be one of the biggest soft powers that India has over other countries of the world.
Today, more than 70,000 Indian healthcare professionals are practising in the US, Canada, UK and Australia – a number that is equal to about 12 percent of the medical practitioners in India. In the United States and the United Kingdom alone, several medical practitioners of Indian origin have risen in the ranks of the healthcare community. Many Indian doctors are almost a brand name today and most of them are in powerful positions, both politically and financially.
Playing a critical role
According to a recent study, US-based Indian students accounted for 14 percent of admissions in American medical schools, and this figure does not include the Indian students who come in from abroad. Furthermore, the number of postgraduate students of Indian origin undergoing training at various American hospitals is around 22 percent. Here is a little fact, every 7th doctor in the US is Indian, which we think is more than enough to explain the critical role that Indian doctors play in supporting the healthcare infrastructure in America.
Europe too relies on foreign workforce for healthcare positions. In the UK, more than 35 percent of National Health Service (NHS) doctors were born abroad, of which approximately 68 percent are Indians. The NHS had turned to the Indian subcontinent during the 1960s to address the shortage of medical professionals in the country. A permit-free policy along with a short-term training visa enabled Indian doctors to complete specialist medical training in the UK. Similar policies were soon followed by other European Union countries, which ultimately made India one of the dominant suppliers of healthcare professionals for the entire continent.
The frontliners against COVID-19
Doctors of Indian origin are at the frontlines in their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. This statement was validated (again) when a team of doctors and nurses from India was recently flown to the United Arab Emirates to bolster the country’s attempts to tackle the pandemic. The UAE government had earlier requested the Indian government to support their efforts by sending in medical professionals to counter the disease, a request that our Centre gladly accommodated. All this is alongside the medicines and medical equipment that India continues to provide as assistance to many countries around the world in these challenging times.
Today, as the world comes to terms with the reality of quarantines and social distancing to keep oneself safe, the healthcare professionals from India have earned the world’s trust and respect through their dedicated service. Something that we all can be immensely proud of.