Less than two weeks after he takes over the reins of AAPI on July 6, at the conclusion of the organization’s 37th annual convention in Atlanta, Dr. Suresh Reddy will hit the ground running when he will play host to AAPI’s 13th edition of its annual Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad from July 19-21.
The GHS is being organized by AAPI in concert with the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) and the Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin(GAPIO), along with several alumni chapters of medical schools in India, which members of the three organizations attended.
Reddy said that the Summit would focus on a plethora of areas, including a focus on preventive health, rural health, women’s health, and providing special cardiopulmonary resuscitation(CPR)training to equip first responders to help save lives.
Dr. Raghu Lolabhattu, co-chair of the GHS 2019, said, “We flew away from India decades ago. However, our hearts are still in India,” and “this is why we will focus on several relevant issues to serve the many healthcare needs and delivery of healthcare in India.”
He said, “For the first time, AAPI will organize Medical Jeopardy with cash prizes to winners,” based on the popular Jeopardy program hosted by Alex Trebek.
Anwar Feroz Siddiqi, chief strategic advisor to AAPI, complimented Reddy leadership, “especially his ability to choose and delegate responsibilities to AAPI members who have always taken the initiative,” and said in more than 12 years he’s been associated with AAPI, nothing evokes their passion more than their willingnessand generosity to give back to their motherland.”
Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, AAPI vice-president for 2018-19, pointed to the uniqueness of the GHS, pointing out that “this is the first-ever GHS to be held in the state of Telangana, after the state attained full statehood.”
He said that when he takes over the helm of AAPI in 2020, after the tenure of Reddy, it was already decided that the 14th edition of GHS will be held in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.”
Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, AAPI’s secretary,also a key organizer of the Hyderabad event, echoed Siddiqi’s sentiments that “it is the passion and dedication for their motherland that brings us all back to India every year.
She said that each of the past 12 AAPI summits had left its indelible mark in the cities the parleys had been held and the outcomes clearly had tangible results.
Gotimukula said, “AAPI has made significant contributions towards addressing several issues affecting the healthcare system in India, and we’ve taken the lead on the issue of traumatic Brain injury – the scourge of a young India, and or efforts have helped with the development of management guidelines thereby helping prevent deaths due to road traffic accidents.”
She said, “Our trainings are aimed at decreasing the number of deaths, especially from road accidents by enabling the first responders to provide life support to victims of accidents. The training, and other medical services are being provided by professional trainers from the U.S. and is offered in collaboration with the American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine, and the American Heart Association(AMA), as part of the GHS 2019.”
Gotimukula said, besides this, “AAPI has also has had positive outcomes by raising the importance and awareness on smoking cessation, and through our Adopt a Village program taken the initiatives to make quality healthcare accessible universally to village and taluka(administrative division) and district levels.”
She noted that the most visible of the issues that AAPI had taken on“most recently is the strong collaborative on making India TB (tuberculosis)free with the signing of a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding with USAID(U.S. Agency for International Development), and 10 city pilots are well under way and significant progress is being made.”
Three AAPI stalwarts, Drs. Satish Kathula, JaganAilinani and Alok Aggarwal, the point person for the Adopt a Village program, said in recent years this was one of the most impactful AAPI development programs initiative and institutionalized by AAPI in rural India, and Ailinani, a past president of AAPI who spearheads the program declared, it was a program that “provides a platform for many individuals who want to give back to their motherland.”
He said that “with the objective of better understand the health care challenges in rural India and which have a direct experience of rural healthcare needs, AAPI delegates will travel to Burgula village in the Ranga Reddy district in the state of Telangana and they will have a first hand experience of Adopt a Village project in this village, initiated by me and Dr. Agrawal.”
Dr. Manoj Jain, the chair of AAPI’s TB-Free India Movement, said that AAPI’s collaborative efforts with several non-governmental organizations and USAID, was committed “to strengthen its initiatives to make every city, ever district, every village in India TB free.”
He pointed to the planning/review session held during GHS in Mumbai last year on building on local templates for a TB-Free India and said that working with the USAID and the government of India, the progress in the 10 cities, where the program has been on for several months, was showing “considerable progress and results.”
Reddy that besides the various medical issues that would be discussed at the Hyderabad GHS, that would also feature several interactive sessions, “there will also be the much anticipated CEO’s Forum, Women’s Forum, the launching of free health clinic, and of course cultural events and a fashion show.”
He predicted that the GHS 2019 “is expected to be one with the greatest impact and the most significant contributions towards a concerted effort in harnessing the power of international Indian diaspora to bring the most innovative, efficient, cost effective healthcare solutions to India.”
Reddy argued that the reason behind the interactive women’s forum and the importance AAPI was attaching to it at the GHS was because “while much progress has been made to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women, the fact remains that millions of women in India and around the world are deprived of their basic rights like education, forced into marriage early on, not allowed to work, and are denied their voices and rightful places in the society.”
He said that “India tops the list of countries that are said to have highest mortality rates during delivery and even the highest number of non-school going girls. Nearly a quarter of total number of girls born in India don’t even live to see their 15th birthday.”
Thus, AAPI sees this need to empower women, working towards women’s education, gender equality, “and “giving them respect and honor them for their contributions and achievements.”
Reddy said that AAPI wanted to do its part to advocate about the “urgent need to work on bringing awareness in the society about the need for gender equality and equal opportunity in terms of education, healthcare and equal wages for women. It requires immense amount of dedication and reforms in the education and healthcare systems that need to be implemented as well as monitored consistently.”
He said that this is why one of AAPI’s key priorities when it comes to its work and that of its charitable foundation continues its focus on women’s education, especially in rural India.
Reddy said a team of physicians, consisting of women leaders of AAPI, including Drs. Sangeeta Agrawal, Uma Jonnalagadda,SaumyaNeravelta, Stella Gandhi, Kusum Punjabi, Radhika Chimats, Swati Yalamnchi, and Pooja Kinkhabawala would lead the sessions on women’s healthcare needs at a day-long session on rural health education to be held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Hyderabad.
With regard to the first-ever Jeopardy-type Med-Quiz for the medical students from all the medical colleges in Telangana, he said the rationale for it was because “the essence of AAPI is educational and the purpose of something like this Med-Quiz translates into numerous programs that AAPI has planned to motivate medical students, physicians, academicians and researchers to excel and master their areas of work.”
Describing the process for the Med-Quiz, Lolabhattusaid, “Each medical school will choose and send five medical students, representing each year of medical school study. These students will compete with students from other med schools from the state of Telangana. The winners at the preliminary rounds will compete at the GHS contest.