Speech of Hon’ble Governor of Sikkim, Shri Shriniwas Patil on the occasion of the Inaugural function of the Red Ribbon Carnival at M.G. Marg. on 19th December, 2013.
Distinguished guests and everyone present here, It gives me immense pleasure to address on this special occasion of inaugural function of the Red Ribbon Carnival. I am happy to know that the gathering here comprises of - leaders who are the decision makers of the State, representatives from educational institutions and community based organizations - who play a vital role in educating the general mass; representatives from Faith Based Organizations-who can motivate the people spiritually; representatives from Health Department- who have the responsibility to diagnose and treat the disease; my friends from the media- who can disseminate information to the public; the host of the RED RIBBON CARNIVAL, the Sikkim State AIDS Control Society - who assures the proper implementation of programmes and most importantly the youth of this State - who needs to understand the gravity on the issue of HIV/AIDS and Substance abuse.
It is sad to know that more than 34 million people are infected with HIV around the globe, and out of which 30 million of them live in developing countries. In the forth coming years, it has been estimated that AIDS is set to become the third largest leading cause of death worldwide. These numbers are staggering and they help us understand the magnitude of this pandemic. It is also sad to know that this disease is highly prevalent amongst the youth, and hence equipping these young people through awareness campaign like these, and imparting life skills, and human values can help in preventing the spread of HIV, therefore in building self confidence, we can build a better tomorrow.
I am also happy to learn that the youths are being and have been made aware about HIV/AIDS, Substance abuse, Voluntary Blood Donation, and other issues pertinent to their lives through the 90 Red Ribbon Clubs instituted by Sikkim State AIDS Control Society, in schools, colleges and at the community level. It is also comforting to know that Sikkim has recorded the lowest number of people with HIV positive.
Hence, I take this opportunity to call for active participation, commitment and cooperation from every individual to address this complex issue of HIV and AIDS. People Living with HIV - AIDS should not be stigmatized and discriminated, but rather should be encouraged and embraced by the society for building their self-confidence in fighting this menace. Discrimination of these Patients may cause a real barrier for getting them tested and treated. Addressing these types of issues is a shared responsibility. It is about coming together to improve the quality of peoples’ lives while getting to the root cause of new infections.
Today, we not only take time to encourage and support with those living with HIV and AIDS, but let us also recognize and congratulate those organizations working at the national, regional and community level for being instrumental in reaching people who are extremely vulnerable.
On this occasion, I would like to congratulate the Sikkim State AIDS Control Society and the Health Department for organizing the Red Ribbon Carnival, which is a part of the Multi Media Campaign of the State AIDS Control Society. I am told that this campaign helps to promote and spread awareness on HIV-AIDS through the means of imparting information and entertainment. Such programmes I feel is the need of the hour, as India and most of the countries in the world grapple with the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
I am also delighted to know that the slogan coined by World Health Organization, the premiere Health Organisation in the world for the World AIDS Day is ‘Getting to ZERO’ and that is what we must aim for. ‘Getting to Zero’ is going to require commitment from everyone, and I invite you to join me in swearing the pledge with the help of your signature in red ribbon to show our support for those who need us and to continue working together in the quest for getting to zero. In India we must do our utmost to work collectively towards making Sikkim an AIDS Free State one day. It is not only the responsibility of the Government in controlling and fighting against HIV/AIDS, but it is also the responsibility of every citizen of this State to come forward and help the government in this noble endeavour.
So, I would like to appeal to one and all to come forward to support the cause, and to contribute towards controlling the epidemic by being responsible citizens, and also by disseminating the message of HIV - AIDS and Drug abuse among the masses. I also see a dream of Sikkim becoming HIV/AIDS free State in the coming years.