The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind conferred the National Florence Nightingale Awards to 36 awardees at a ceremony in Vigyan Bhawan, here today, in the presence of Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare and Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare. While the award to Late Smt. Lini Sajeesh from Kozhikode, Kerala was conferred posthumously and received by her husband Shri Sajeesh, 35 other awardees [Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs), Lady Health Visitors (LHVs), and nurses] from different States and UTs were present to receive the award from the President of India.The President commended the unsurpassed dedication of Late Smt. Lini Sajeesh who passed away while on duty caring for a NIPAH infected patient in Kerala. He also congratulated the other award winners and said that nurses play a very vital role in delivering cost effective and quality healthcare to individuals and communities. “Nurses play a vital role in delivering quality and cost effective health care, addressing multiple health challenges and responding to health needs of individuals, families and communities. The world is more and more in need of care and compassion, and nurses indeed are a symbol of seva, shushrusha, karuna”, he stated. He stated that “Our nurses serving in community health centres and hospitals, have played an important role in successful implementation of national health programmes like eradication of polio, malaria and HIV/AIDS”. There is a considerable increase in the demand for specialized, competent and highly skilled nurses. There is also a rising demand of human resource for third and fourth level care, which requires quality training institutes, he stated. To achieve this, the Government has taken several initiatives for further development of pre-services and in-service training, education and upgradation of nursing services, the President stated.“The country is proud of your selfless service and dedication”, the President stated. While serving overseas, the nurses from India have brought credit and name for the country and contributed significantly through your remittances, he said. He added that the kindness and service of the nurses form an important pillar of recovery for those who are ailing. It is as an acknowledgement of their immense role in the society and healthcare system that WHO has dedicated 2020 as the ‘Year of Nurses and Midwives’, the President stated. The year 2020 is also the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, after whom the awards have been named.The President highlighted the issues of the ageing population in the country and the need for a course focusing on elderly care. These care-givers, who need not be trained nurses, would certainly benefit from basic training in geriatric care, he stated. While the families take care of the elderly in India, with changing lifestyle, there is a growing demand for professional caregivers in this area, he stated. Florence Nightingale awards were instituted in the year 1973 by the Government as a mark of recognition for the meritorious services rendered by nurses to the society.Also present at the award ceremony were Ms. Preeti Sudan, Secretary (HFW), Shri Arun Singhal, Spl. Secretary (Health), along with other senior officers and invitees.