SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA SHRIMATI PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE PRESENTATION OF NATIONAL FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE AWARDS FOR NURSING PERSONNEL
Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi , 12th May, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to once again give away the National Florence Nightingale Awards to outstanding nursing personnel on the occasion of the Birth Anniversary of Florence Nightingale and on International Nurses Day. I congratulate all the awardees and their families on this occasion. They deserve deep appreciation for their hard work and professional commitment to their patients.
Since our independence, we have achieved some successes in the health sector, like increase in life expectancy and eradication of some endemic diseases. However, it is still work in progress. Access to and affordability of healthcare especially for the underprivileged and marginalized sections of society, in particular women and children, remain tasks where much work is required. Moreover, the penetration of health services in rural areas is particularly low. With the population of over 1.2 billion, we have much work ahead to achieve our goal of health for all. We need more doctors, more nurses, more medical educational institutions, more health centers and hospitals. All stakeholders - the Government, the private sector and voluntary organizations will have to work together for establishing a healthcare system that can cater to the medical requirements of the nation. Our efforts to develop nursing services by increasing and strengthening nursing institutions are essential. I understand that the Government is taking steps in this direction. It is important that there be a constant focus on pre-service as well as in in-service training for nurses.
You are crucial for providing medical care. In fact, nurses are the front-line providers of medical assistance and information. They constitute a very important channel of communication and implementation of the doctors' instructions for the care of the patient. Where the patient is to be operated, the nurse is the one person involved throughout - from the pre-operative to post- operative stage.
Nursing is not only a profession and a career. It is service to humanity. Lord Buddha speaking of the triple truth said, and I quote, "A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things, which renew humanity." Unquote. These are the very qualities that nurses represent in their work. A nurse takes gentle care of patients to save their lives or cure their illness just as a loving mother or a sister or a member of the family. This is the reason that a nurse is always called a 'sister'. It is the human element that makes a huge difference in the recovery of the patient.
Today, is an opportunity to recall Florence Nightingale who through her immense work and dedication continues to be a model for nurses even today. I am sure, she is the inspiration for all of you. Nurses from India have done the nation proud. This is evident from the high demand for them all over the world. I compliment all nurses of our country and congratulate those who have got awards today. Your work is deeply appreciated by the nation, society and the families of the innumerable number of patients you would have taken care of. I am sure they would constantly bless you. This should give you strength to carry on working and rendering service to humanity. I end with quotation of Mahatma Gandhi, "The platform of service is as big as the world. It is never overcrowded." Unquote. Your work to lessen human pain and reduce suffering on account of diseases is a valuable addition to the platform of service to human kind.