International Nurses Day: We Shouldn’t Need a Pandemic to Remind Us of These Superheroes in Scrubs


International Nurses Day: We Shouldn’t Need a Pandemic to Remind Us of These Superheroes in Scrubs

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly challenged countries across the globe forcing many into a lockdown. But the essential workers don’t have the choice to social distance like the rest and have to step out to fulfil their duties through the chaos. Since day one, our healthcare workers have been at the frontlines of the combat with admirable perseverance and tenacity. True to the theme of this year’s International Nurses Day, “Nursing the World to Health”, healthcare workers have worked around the clock to serve people amid the crisis, reminding us of the vital role they play that goes beyond the framework of the healthcare system.

On the occasion of the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared 2020 as “The Year of the Nurse and Midwife” and perhaps, there couldn’t have been a more timely coincidence than this. And the world does not hesitate to acknowledge their struggles and sacrifices.

In honour of the healthcare workers, popular street artist Banksy has donated his new artwork to UK’s University Hospital Southampton (UHS). Titled “Game Changer”, the piece was left with a note signed by the elusive artist, thanking the staff for their hard work. “I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only black and white.”

A young boy is seen in the art piece, kneeling by a wastepaper bin with discarded action figures of popular superheroes Spiderman and Batman, as he plays with his new favourite “action hero” – a nurse who is sporting a face mask and cape.

In these testing times, nurses are akin to angels – our frontline warriors whose selfless service hasn’t allowed the world to succumb to the deadly virus.

Borders cease to exist in their fight to save humanity. Even if it means to leave your home and family behind, like these 88 nurses working at the Aster DM Healthcare hospitals in the Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Maharashtra who have been flown down to UAE to assist the Gulf nation’s healthcare teams.

“She is being looked after by my husband and mother-in-law,” Dipika Suraj Khavale said of her two-year-old daughter, who she had to leave back in India to join her team. “My family is proud of me, and I too am proud to serve.”



Weeks back, as Italy struggled to get back on its feet with the outrageous rise in the number of positive cases, the image of an exhausted Elena Pagliarini was a reminder of the severity of the situation our frontline medical troops were faced with. “It was such a dramatic situation,” Pagliarini told the BBC, “some patients were dying in front of me. We worked all night. At 6 am, I stopped and rested briefly on the desk and a doctor took this picture. It was an angst-ridden moment.”

But their need to aid the ones who struggle physically and mentally is always placed before their personal well-being. Our corona warriors, without hesitation, continue to silently shield us even when the going gets tough.

The fight isn’t easy, however. Especially when healthcare workers are viewed with suspicion, says Noorie Masih, a nurse at a private hospital in Gurugram, in an interview with Hindustan Times.

And maybe, no one is quite as happy as these health workers when they reign victorious in the face of adversity. Every Covid-19 patient who recovers is cause for celebration. At Ontario’s Markham Stouffville Hospital the ICU nurses and doctors expressed their joy when a patient was taken off a ventilator last month by dancing in a conga line. All the stress they had shouldered all along, had finally paid off!

It’s only right we celebrate our nurses too.

Even though our fight against corona is far from over, the spirit and positivity of our nurses and other health professionals is a needed reminder that we are in safe hands.