India’s health minister Harsh Vardhan has urged Indian-American physicians to “develop a structural relationship” between AAPI and the Indian government. “We are optimistic about making a positive change in the health scenario of India, where we are seeking to have a high quality, affordable healthcare to all of our citizens,” Vardhan said.
The minister was addressing delegates of the Association of Physicians of Indian Origin at the 13th annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) in Hyderabad, July 21. Organized by the AAPI that serves as an umbrella organization for more than 160 member associations nationwide, the summit offers a platform to nearly 100,000 physicians of Indian origin it represents, to explore ways to giving back to their motherland.
“It is your love for your motherland that has brought you here today,” Vardhan said. Describing the attendees as leading luminaries, excelling in the medical field, contributing to make a positive impact in the healthcare sector through their dedication, commitment, knowledge and skills, who treat every 7th patient in the U.S., Vardhan, who is a physician himself, said: “We are optimistic about making a positive change in the health scenario of India, where we are seeking to have a high quality, affordable healthcare to all of our citizens.”
He proposed that each AAPI member return to one’s place of birth and identify the local needs of the place and invest one’s time and resources and talents and skills there in order to make a positive impact on the health of your native place. “If AAPI has a project in its efforts to enhance the healthcare system in India, the Ministry of Health will collaborate and provide all possible support to it,” he said.
The nation’s growing wealth has yet to find a panacea for India’s overburdened public health care system. Acknowledging that there is a dichotomy in India, which is a huge challenge for the government and its more than a billion people, Vardhan said that “even as we grow economically to be a powerful nation, healthcare is a huge challenge. There is an urgent need to enhance the healthcare delivery in India.”
Seeking collaboration and participation from AAPI in every possible area in the large healthcare sector in India, Vardhan referred to how Indian pharma companies have made a name for themselves for making drugs affordable around the world and saving billions of dollars for the people and the many governments around the world. “You know the needs of the nation. Now, it’s your responsibility to see where your expertise and services will fit in and how you can make a positive impact in the healthcare system in India,” the minister told the AAPI delegates.
During his address, Vardhan presented an overview of the healthcare needs of the country and suggested several areas where AAPI could collaborate with the government of India, including establishing Memorandum of Understanding with international organizations, which will support healthcare in India; transferring advanced research and experiences in the medical field and enhance the quality of medical education in India; organizing healthcare/medical camps in rural and economically backward regions of the nation; and, addressing hygienic and preventive measures and enhancing the healthcare delivery in India.
In his introductory welcome address, Dr. Ajay Lodha, past president of AAPI, reminded the minister that the summit has come to be recognized as a very unique and a truly pioneering effort to address areas of concern which are of significant consequences on health care scenario in India. Past summits have identified areas of mutual interest and also integrated advancements of healthcare facilities in India besides ways and means of tackling long term concerns leading to longterm collaborations.
He reminded the audience of many outcomes of the summit, which have resulted in establishing free medical care clinics across India, medical camps, and establishing of India-centric guidelines for management of Hepatitis C, Brain Injury and Trauma. He urged the Government of India to “support our initiatives and thus help us help the healthcare needs of our motherland, India.”
Dr. Suresh Reddy, President of AAPI, said, “Many of the physicians who will attend this convention have excelled in different specialties and subspecialties and occupy high positions as faculty members of medical schools, heads of departments, and executives of hospital staff. The GHS offers an opportunity to meet directly with these physicians who are leaders in their fields and play an integral part in the decision-making process regarding new products and services,” he said.
The three-day event began July 21 with the inaugural address by India’s Vice President Venkiah Naidu. “I am glad to learn that AAPI serves as an umbrella organization with a Network of over 160 chapters across USA,” Naidu told AAPI delegates. He devoted a good amount of his speech about the great traditions and the greatness of Indian culture and the civilization of India. Pointing out to India being one of the greatest civilizations, that has given birth to renowned medical practices and higher education before any other nation, Naidu said, “If you want to go abroad, go learn earn and then return.”
Calling upon the physicians of Indian Origin to rededicate their lives for the wellbeing of their motherland, Naidu asked of the AAPI delegates not to forget where they come from. With the objective of enabling people in India to access high quality, affordable, and cost-effective world class health services, the Summit is being organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs & Ministry of Health, and has participation from some of the world’s most well-known physicians and industry leaders.
A major theme and focus of the summit was women’s health. A team of physicians, consisting of women leaders of AAPI, including Drs. Sangeeta Agrawal, Uma Jonnalagadda, Soumya Neravelta, Stella Gandhi, Swati Yalamnchi and Pooja Kinkhabawala led sessions on Women’s Healthcare Needs. In addition, a day-long session on Rural Health Education was held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Hyderabad, July 22.
Dr. Seema Arora, Chair of AAPI’s BOD, summarized some of the achievements of AAPI including the 16 free healthcare clinics, AAPI’s legislative initiatives in the US, and the ongoing collaboration with the government of India and the state governments and several NGOs in helping healthcare efficient and cost effective.
In his address, Dr. Prathap C Reddy, founder-chairman of Apollo Hospitals, praised AAPI’s efforts to help India through its Healthcare Summits in making policies in healthcare delivery more effective. Describing AAPI’s efforts as very significant, Dr. Pratap Reddy highlighted the Seminars and workshops at GHS and how they help train the physicians and upcoming new generation of physicians in India, by transferring knowledge and expertise.
Earlier on July 21, the summit began in the early hours of the day as AAPI delegates, students and faculties from several schools and colleges joined the “Obesity Revolution” Walkathon for creating awareness about obesity. The walkathon had a record breaking as many as 2,000 participants. Each participant was presented with a certificate for their support and efforts to create awareness about obesity. “With the changing trends and statistics in healthcare, both in India and US, we are refocusing our mission and vision, AAPI would like to make a positive meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India,” Reddy said.