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Shri Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India, Inaugurates AAPI’s 12th Annual Global Healthcare Summit in Mumbai

Ajay Ghosh

Urging AAPI to bring in traditional Indian wellness practices to modern medical systems, President describes  “AAPI as a link between two vibrant and democratic societies”

(Mumbai, India. December 29h, 2018) The Honorable President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the 12th edition of the Global Healthcare Summit organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) at The Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai on Friday, December 28th, 2018.

In his inaugural address, the President of India said, AAPI is “more than just a platform of doctors and medical practitioners, the Indian President told the nearly 500 delegates who had come from around the world to attend the landmark Summit in Mumbai. “It is a link between two vibrant and democratic societies, both of which have addressed major public health challenges in their own way.”

He praised AAPI and the over 100,000 Physicians of Indian Origin in the United States for their great contributions. “The professional-ism and goodwill of Indian doctors in America has won them – won you, I should say – a well-deserved reputation,” he told the AAPI leaders. “In fact, it has occasionally led to diplomatic gains for India for which your Association must be appreciated.” He said India and the US shared complementarities in the pharmaceutical field – in clinical research, drug discovery and manufacture. He said that both countries can work together to address common challenges posed by lifestyle diseases. 

In his welcome address, Dr. Naresh Parikh, President of AAPI said, “The past Global Healthcare Summit (GHS)  have helped develop strategic alliances with various organizations and the government of India. It is these learning and relationships that have brought us all here in Mumbai, who are very passionate about serving their homeland, Mother 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 long-term collaborations.  Dr. Parikh reminded the audience of many outcomes of the Summit, saying, over the past 12 years AAPI physicians have collaborated with several professional medical associations, academic institutions, Government of India, and have made significant contributions towards addressing diabetes with the launch of Sevak program, CPR-AED training for first responders with expert faculty from the American University of Antigua, Traumatic Brain Injury - the scourge of young India, and development of management guidelines thereby helping prevent deaths due to road traffic accidents, raising the importance and awareness on smoking cessation, Adopt a Village program and taking the initiatives to make quality healthcare accessible universally to village and taluka and district levels, and most recently a strong collaborative on making India TB Free with the signing of a MOU with USAID. Ten city pilots are well under way and significant progress is being made, said Dr. Naresh Parikh, President AAPI in his opening remarks. A significant collaboration has been reached between AAPI and Project Life to address the challenge of and to prevent Thalassemia.Dr. Parikh praised the contributions and efforts of Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, Chair of GHS 2018, Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Co-Chair of GHS 2018, Dr. Vinod Shah, Chair of AAPI Legislative Committee, Dr. Raj Bhayani, Co-Chair of GHS 2018, Anwar Feroz, AAPI’s Strategic Advisor,  Dr. Asha Parikh, Women’s Forum Chair, and his entire Executive Committee consisting of Dr. Suresh Reddy, President-Elect; Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, Vice President; Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Secretary; Dr. Anjana Samadder, Treasurer; and Dr. Ajeeth Kothari, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Ramesh Mehta, President of GAPIO, which has jointly organized GHS for the first time in association with AAPI, also addressed he delegates during the inaugural ceremony.

Dr. Ramesh Mehta, President GAPIO in his opening address said that AAPI GHS 2018 is the beginning of a strong collaborative approach along with the Global Association of Physicians of Indian origin (GAPIO) that together will make constructive and tangible ways of ensuring that healthcare is affordable and accessible to millions of people in India.

Dr. Prathap C Reddy, Founder GAPIO has envisioned the evolution of developing a united front for all NRI physicians to develop strong and effective programs that can be implemented with precision to face the challenges posed by Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). GAPIO has launched several programs including Leadership Development Programs. GAPIO has representation from 34 countries according to Dr. Anupam Sibal, Vice President, GAPIO.

Devendra Fadnavis, the Chief Minister of the state of Maharashtra, in his address to the international delegates, welcomed the AAPI delegates to his home state, Maharashtra. While praising the many contributions of AAPI, he urged the delegates to work collaboratively in making health care more affordable. He promised whole-hearted support to the initiatives of AAPI in the state of Maharashtra. Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra, and Raj Purohit, Cabinet Minister of Maharashtra were honored guests who attended the event.

The President of India acknowledged the professionalism and excellent reputation of doctors of Indian origin in the US. “It is a tribute to India’s culture of knowledge and of service that one of every seven patient consultations in the US is with an Indian or Indian origin physician,” he said.

AAPI, a three-and-a-half decades old organization with an impressive CV, is the largest non-profit ethnic medical institution in the United States. “Your Association is a mini-India, comprising doctors with origins in all parts of our country,” the Indian President said.

The President said that the goal of ‘Health for All’ must be integral to our programs and policies. He noted the several initiatives of the Government of India, which he said were intended to make healthcare in the country more holistic and affordable for all citizens of the country.

The President of India lauded the great contributions of the members of AAPI to public health and to the discipline of medicine across the spectrum. “You are consulted on legislative and policy issues and are involved in cutting-edge research. Most important, you are responsible for providing medical care and treatment to a wide variety of people, including, I am happy to note, communities living in underserved areas.

The Indian diaspora, spread across the world, “serves as a living bridge between the country of its adoption and the country of its origin – such as between the US and India,” the Indian President said.

He praised AAPI for its collaborations with the Ministry of Health, Government of India, with state governments and with several medical and academic institutions to take forward the agenda of public health. “AAPI and its members have helped in addressing diabetes, taking on the challenge of TB, development of management guide-lines for brain injuries, and rural health-care, among other themes,” he said.

The President of India praised AAPI’s contributions, especially, Imparting of “first responder training in several states of the country, including here in Maharashtra. Such training can be of immense use after road accidents or when dealing with an emergency.” He urged AAPI to take this process further and deeper, especially in rural areas, where there may be a considerable distance between the patient and a well-equipped multi-specialty hospital.

He appealed to AAPI leaders to work together with the government of India in finding innovative ways to offer quality and affordable care to millions of poor people in India, by building alliances – between doctors and patient groups, between civil society and industry, between researchers and practitioners and ultimately between countries “Disease does not discriminate, and the practice of medicine and health-care must not discriminate either,” he said.

“India’s experience with producing affordable but high quality drugs and medicines offers a huge advantage as the world – and America itself – seeks to drive down the cost of health-care and health insurance,” the Indian President pointed out. “Our countries can also work hand-in-hand in seeking answers to global pandemics and emerging zoonotic diseases.”

The President of India urged AAPI to continue its efforts in the prevention and management of life-style diseases, diabetes and obesity, where physicians of Indian origin can bring in “traditional Indian wellness practices to modern medical systems. Please see what your Association can do in this area,” he told AAPI delegates

“The goal of ‘Health for All’ must be integral to our programs and policies,” he said. “I am very happy to note that the Government of India has been doing exactly that – it had made delivery of holistic healthcare to all citizens of India, one of its primary goals.”

Appealing more collaborative efforts by AAPI, especially in the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, seeking to provide comprehensive medical care to all our people, from little children to the elderly, covering 40 per cent of Indian citizens, the Indian President said, Ayushman Bharat is of importance to more than just India. Its success will offer a blue-print to cost-effective universal health coverage in emerging economies and among vulnerable communities.

“That is why I would urge all of you to become part of this potentially game-changing initiative – by participating and supporting it as you can, or even by making suggestions in terms of its design and roll-out. I look forward to actionable ideas on Ayushman Bharat emerging from this Summit,” the President of India told AAPI delegates.

Representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, leaders of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians, for 37 years. One in seven American is touched by a doctor of Indian origin. There is an equally large percentage of medical residents, fellows and students in the USA. AAPI’s GHS has provided a venue for medical education programs and symposia with world renowned physicians on the cutting edge of medicine. For more details, please visit:  https://aapisummit.org/www.aapiusa.org

Shri Ram Nath Kovind, President of India, delivering inaugural address at AAPI’s 12 Annual Global Healthcare Summit in Mumbai

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