The government of the United Kingdom (Britain) today said it had been a ‘privilege’ to have nearly 25,000 Indian medical professionals in the National Health Service (NHS) treating thousands of patients of coronavirus disease (COVID). Several doctors, nurses and pharmacists of Indian heritage have died in recent months, as many retired professionals responded to the call of British authorities to re-join in the response to the pandemic. India-trained medical professionals have long been part of the NHS.
Foreign Secretary of Britain Dominic Raab said in a virtual address to the India Global week 2020, “COVID-19 is a global challenge. And the UK has been proud to stand alongside India in its international response. As we have responded to this crisis, we have been privileged to have 25,000 Indian professionals working in our brilliant National Health Service here at home. We hugely value their contribution”.
British ministers Matt Hancock, Tariq Ahmad and Lynn Truss, attended the event. Raab thanked the Indian government for Britain being able to obtain vital supplies of paracetamol at the height of the crisis. It would be an “extraordinary achievement”, Raab said, if the human trial for a vaccine at the University of Oxford were to succeed and is produced on a mass scale at the Serum Institute of India. It would benefit not only the British and Indian people but also make it accessible for the most vulnerable people across the world, he said.
“As leaders in the international response, the UK and India have also co-authored the G20 Action Plan, providing an immediate package of $200 billion of global support to the most vulnerable countries around the world,” the British foreign secretary said.
“Even before COVID, UK was India’s second-biggest research partner. With our joint research estimated to be worth £ 400 million by 2021. And with India’s contribution to the recent GAVI vaccine summit, together we smashed the target for vaccine funding, with $ 8.8 billion raised”, Raab said.
Foreign Office minister for South Asia Tariq Ahmad said: “There are few countries that share the people-to-people connections as the UK and India. This was demonstrated earlier this year when we repatriated more than 15,000 British people from India — the largest repatriation operation from a single country since the Second World War”.
“As we adjust to the new post-COVID world in the coming months, I know that these people-to-people links will help future generations to build back better. The Living Bridge between our countries — on show at India Global Week — will grow back stronger,” he added.