I inaugurated Sikkim Government College of Nursing and Integrated AYUSH Hospital at Multi Speciality Hospital complex, Sochakgang, Gangtok today.

The College of Nursing is one of the best colleges in the entire Northeast region with state-of-the-art labs for training and teaching purpose along with library-cum-conference hall, nursing foundation lab, computer centre and hostel facility. I am confident that sons and daughters of Sikkim will definitely benefit from this institute, where the course is imparted free of cost. I hope to see a pool of capable human resource of nurses, both male and female produced by this college.

AYUSH Hospital has all the facilities like Ayurveda, Yoga, Sowa-Rigpa, Homeopathy, Panchakarma, including Amji OPD. Healthcare provided by AYUSH hospital is considered to be one of the oldest healing practices since ancient times. In real sense, it aims at providing a complete healthcare knowledge rather than curative means. However, over the course of time, this rich knowledge from different traditional practices in India have lead to the creation of herbal medicines that are now widely used to bring to the limelight the ancient practices and principles of Ayurveda.

The health sector has always been one of the priority sectors of the State Government with the objective to offer our people the best health care services. The effort of our Government has been to provide healthcare services with focus on preventive measures rather than on curative care with the objective to bring about holistic health care and wellness . As a result, today, all key health indicators in Sikkim falls within top 5 when compared to all the states of India. The life expectancy of our people has increased by 10 years, from 62 years in 1994-95 to 73 years now, against the National average of 66 years. This I say call real development. Over the course of 24 years, we have made education and health care free for our citizens. Now, with the best infrastructure in place, our healthcare services need to be transformed completely and provide qualitative treatment for all. The entire medical fraternity needs to be responsible to shoulder this huge responsibility.

The following are some of the other highlights of my address:-
1. All medical professionals, doctors, nurses and paramedical personnel must deal with their patients professionally as done in the developed nations. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become one of the biggest threats to human capability as also a threat to all working professionals across the world. The medical sector is no exception. In medical science, AI is mostly preferred than humans as the use of AI in diagnosing diseases makes it more preferable due to its accuracy. However, nursing is the only sphere where AI has very less dominance. Nursing is one of the most attractive professions all over the world. Our students should take advantage of this fact and opt for the profession of nurses, which today has a huge demand all over the world. Our youngsters can also choose to become Physician Assistants and Dental Hygienists which are careers with great prospects.

2. The 1000 bedded Multi Speciality Hospital at Sochakgang is on the verge of completion. Once completed, the State will have a health infrastructure built by the Government not seen in the entire North-East or even in some parts of the Country. When we envisioned this hospital, we did not have any fund to carry out this mega project.It must be mentioned that the Government of India does not have provision to provide funds for such schemes. Yet, with will and right intent we went ahead by infusing funds from the State Plan. Despite all odds and major fund constraints, we have been able to complete the 1st and 2nd phase while the 3rd and 4th phase is about to be completed and the hospital would be made operational by this year.

3. The State Government has introduced the CATCH programme to raise awareness on health issues and to provide basic healthcare services to the people right at their doorsteps. I called upon the health department officials and doctors to systematize CATCH programme with complete decentralization for effective implementation of the scheme. The programme should be mandatorily carried out annually in every nook and corner of the State.

4. The State Government has also come up with the new policy -‘Proud Mother Scheme’ – taking into consideration the low fertility rate in the State and with a view to maintain our population, to encourage and promote institutional delivery and to raise awareness on health related issues for both the mother and the child. Under this scheme, cash award of Rs. 7,000 and Rs. 10,000 is given to the mothers for the first and second delivery respectively. In addition Rs 500 per month is given to the new born till the child attains the age of 6.

5. It gives me immense joy and fulfilment to see the successful implementation of the HPV vaccination in Sikkim. Now, I can confidently say that all girls of the age group of 9-14 of the State are free from cervical cancer. As the Chief Minister, my intention and desire is always to provide our people with the best medical facilities. Considering that cervical cancer and breast cancer kill more females than any other diseases, the Government decided to launch the vaccination as early as 2014. However, due to some false information and rumour spread by people with vested interest, we had to withdraw our plan. It is the dark side of democracy where even good intent of Government is sometimes politicized to mislead the innocent people. As good citizens, we need to be responsible by supporting all the good policies/programmes formulated for the people to keep the spirit of democracy alive.

6. As the day also being World Suicide –Prevention Day, I dwelt on the topic of suicide.I spoke on the various reasons that compels a person to take his/her own life. I believe that poverty and unemployment are not the main reasons for persons committing suicide. Illness, emotional disbalance, feeling of hoplessness and other mental disorders are the major causes. We must all accept the fact that life is full of struggles and problems which we should try and overcome. It is only the weak who take their own lives. As humans, there is nothing more precious than your own life. We therefore need to be happy people who love and value our life.

7. I sought concrete proposals from the Health Department on the following:-
i) A report on the low fertility rate in the State, the reasons and methods to combat it.

ii) In view of our lifestyle, today many people suffer from diseases like diabetes and other psycho-somatic diseases. To combat such diseases, we could take initiatives like appointment of Dieticians to look after the nutritional needs and proper diet maintenance of diabetic patients, particularly to those coming from economically weak background. Similarly, Life Therapists can be appointed for taking up sessions on meditation, yoga starting from the PHC level to the Multi-Specialty Hospital.

I made the following announcements:-
i) Roster system not to be applied in case of regularization of doctors and nurses working on adhoc basis.

ii) The required manpower in Health Department to be filled up within 2 months through direct recruitment.

iii) As decided earlier, all lower grade posts in the Multi Specialty Hospital will be filled up by candidates of the surrounding areas.

iv) Home Guards serving for a long time will be recruited as Security Guards in the Hospital on regular basis.

v) The services of all employees working under NHM including doctors and nurses will be regularized as per set rules and regulations.