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How are different countries celebrating their healthcare heroes?

by Chloe Baird

In recent months, the world has been affected by a global pandemic unlike anything seen in the past century. So many things have changed so rapidly, and in ways that no one could have foreseen.  

The world’s healthcare workers have been at the frontline during this pandemic, risking their own health to ensure others are getting the treatment they need.  

Across the globe, healthcare workers have been celebrated in different ways. We’re taking a look at how different countries are celebrating their healthcare heroes.  


Here at home, we’ve seen healthcare heroes celebrated in a number of ways.  

In Sydney, you can now drive past the southern hemisphere’s largest billboard on Anzac Bridge and see hundreds of photos of healthcare workers. The portraits of essential healthcare workers are accompanied by the words, “An Essential Thank You.” 

Melbourne’s famous street art, decorating streets and laneways through the city, has become focused on healthcare workers. New instalments include a mural of Ai Fen, the director of the emergency department of Wuhan’s central hospital, and a healthcare worker in the Atlas pose holding an image of the world above them. 

Landmarks across the country have also been illuminated to show thanks for healthcare workers, including Sydney Town Hall, the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and the Perth Concert Hall. 

And a number of Aussie healthcare workers were awarded honours during the Queen’s Birthday celebrations, including Elizabeth Zachulski, a NSW aged care worker, and Sarah Brown, the Chief Executive of a rural health service operating out of Alice Springs.  

United States of America

One of the most creative displays in the US was seen in Philadelphia, with 150 drones flying in co-ordination to spell out the words “Thank U Heroes” and to display images like the healthcare cross, and even a pair of hands washing.  

On top of the many other ways healthcare heroes have been celebrated, in Suffolk County, New York, a bill has now been passed that has dedicated the entire month of June to Healthcare Heroes Month. The bill honours doctors, nurses, first responders and other people who work in the healthcare field. While not as flashy as a light display or a co-ordinated drone show, the bill is a reminder to everyone of the important role healthcare professionals play during times of crisis, and in our everyday lives, too.  

United Kingdom

You may have heard the story of Thomas Moore, a World War II veteran who managed to raise an astounding £29 million ($56 million AUD) for the UK’s National Health Services by walking 100 laps of his garden. After raising the money, he was rewarded on his 100th birthday by a RAF flypast. Moore’s efforts became the largest individual fundraising event in the United Kingdom’s history.  

There has also been the resounding success of the “Clap For Our Carers” campaign, where Londoners have been encouraged to stand at their doors or windows and applaud the work of healthcare carers. The campaign’s organiser, Annemarie Plas, said she would like to see it become an annual event.  

London Bridge, the London Eye and the Shard were also lit up with blue lights. 

Large and small gestures around the world

Across the world, countries have said “thank you” to their healthcare heroes by illuminating famous landmarks. 

In Brazil, one of the most iconic religious statues in the entire world, Christ the Redeemer, was lit up in an illumination display that projected a doctor’s coat and stethoscope onto the statue.  

In Egypt, the Great Pyramids were lit up in red and blue, and displayed messages in both Arabic and English reading, “stay safe” and “thank you to those keeping us safe”.  

Even the famous Materhorn mountain in Switzerland was illuminated in red with the word “hope” written across its distinctly shaped peak. 

There have also been millions of smaller, but no less important, gestures from people wishing to say thank you to the healthcare workers who have helped saved lives.  

All over the world, people have written messages on bedsheets and cardboard signs hung in living room windows, and words and symbols of gratitude have appeared on footpaths and walls. 

A woman who was able to get her hands on a large number of face masks stood outside a light rail station in Singapore and handed them out for free to passers-by.  

In Paris, two Michelin-starred chefs at the Four Seasons George V Palace Hotel (a hotel off the Champs-Elysses with room rates more than $1000 AUD a night) cooked meals for workers at the nearby hospital. 

In a similar vein, when a Jewish family in the US had to cancel their daughter’s bat mitzvah, the catered food was instead distributed amongst people in quarantine.     

Do you want to make a real difference?

There have been countless other gestures of thanks around the world from ordinary people, government and organisations. It would be impossible to mention every single one of them here.  

If the recent events have got you thinking about what you could accomplish with a career in healthcare, check out Open Colleges’ Health Assistant courses.  

Our courses have been developed to help teach you the skills and knowledge you need to launch your career in health services. With a nationally recognised qualification from Open Colleges, you’ll be able to begin a rewarding and fulfilling career helping others.  

Find out more about our Health Assistant courses here.  

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