Nursing and the "hearts and minds" campaign, 1948–1958: the Malayan emergency

Rosemary Wall, Anne Marie Rafferty

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Citations (Scopus)


From 1900 to 1955, British Malaya was the most common destination in the world for British colonial nurses (see Figure 13.1).The Malayan territories in South-East Asia were composed of many races including aboriginal communities, Malays who were largely rural, and various Chinese and Indian immigrant populations, in addition to the British and Eurasians.1 This complex crucible resulted in racial and political tension. Examining nursing during the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960) highlights the role of the profession during a political crisis, and the problems faced by the Colonial Nursing Service in supplying sufficient nurses for the area. How were British nurses persuaded to travel to Malaya and how did methods compromise stringent recruitment standards? How did the Emergency attract international health organizations’ attention to nursing? In particular, in what way did nursing become embroiled in the “hearts and minds” campaign to defeat communist insurgents? This chapter argues that the Malayan case illustrates an early emphasis on rural healthcare and the training of nurses within postWorld War II international health policy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on the Global History of Nursing
EditorsPatricia D'Antonio, Julie A. Fairman, Jean C. Whelan
Place of PublicationOxon
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2013


  • British colonial nurses
  • the Malayan Emergency
  • rural healthcare
  • nurses
  • international health policy


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