Prez honours nurses who died saving AMRI patients

New Delhi: Two nurses, who sacrificed their lives to save patients in the AMRI Hospital fire in Kolkata in December last, were among 36 meritorious nursing personnel who were honoured by President Pratibha Patil on International Nurses Day today.

This is the first time that the National Florence Nightingale Nurses Awards were presented posthumously. The two nurses, Vineetha P K and Remya Rajappan, hailed from Kerala. Vineetha P K`s father and Remya Rajappan`s mother accepted the award from the President at a solemn ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan here today. Acknowledging the contribution of nursing to health care, President Patil said nurses are frontline providers of medical assistance and information.

"You are crucial for providing medical care. Nursing is not only a profession and a career. It is service to humanity," she said addressing the gathering. As the nation achieves success in health sector by helping increase life expectancy and eradication of some endemic diseases, Patil said there is much work ahead to achieve the goal of health for all. "It is still work in progress," she said.

She also exhorted male nurses to take up the noble service. Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the role of nurses, midwives and lady health visitors in prevention of disease and health promotion activities cannot be under estimated, while listing out a number of steps to improve healthcare system in the country.

He said, "The award, consisting of Rs 50,000 cash prize, a certificate and a medal, is a rare honour in recognition of selfless hard work, commitment and extra-ordinary perseverance in the course of performance of duties by the nurses."