AAPI eager to establish medical college in India

2014 Summit to be held in Ahmedabad.

Bureau Report

KOCHI: Over 1,250 delegates from around the world attended the Global Healthcare Summit (GHS), organized by the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with the Government of India from January 1st to 3rd in Kochi.

Dr. Narendra Kumar, president of AAPI, delivering the inaugural address at the Global Health Summit in Kochi.
Dr. Narendra Kumar, president of AAPI, delivering the inaugural address at the Global Health Summit in Kochi.

Described as a forum to discuss and offer ways to provide the most innovative, efficient, cost effective healthcare solutions to India, the various topics discussed at the GHS explored the possibilities for greater collaboration and cooperation between the physicians and health care providers in India with those of Indian origin and major health-care providers abroad. The international convention center at the prestigious Le Méridien in the commercial capital of Kerala wore a festive look as the delegates from around the globe filled the Oman Hall for the inaugural ceremony on New Year’s Day.

Healthcare industry forms the backbone of any nation’s well-being. India with its 1.2 billion population is expected to have a robust medical sector with a $100 billion industry by 2015 from the current $65 billion, growing 20 per cent annually due to increasing demand for specialized and quality healthcare facilities in addition to the growth in the insurance plans seeking to provide reliable health insurance to hundreds of millions of people.

The government of India is committed to making significant improvements in the healthcare infrastructure and is contributing to building modern medical facilities throughout the country with private partnerships. However, the challenge facing the industry is to make healthcare affordable, accessible to all and efficient.

In his welcome address, Dr. Narendra Kumar, president of AAPI and Chair of GHS 2013, said, “Your presence here today in large numbers from around the world is a testimony to your continued commitment and dedication to devote your time, skills, and resources to serve the needy and the sick, who have fewer opportunities to care for their health needs in India.”

AAPI is the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States and represents the interests of more than 65,000 physicians and about 35,000 medical students/residents of Indian heritage. AAPI is an umbrella organization with nearly 130 specialty societies and alumni organizations.

The Summit, which is a public-private initiative between the Government of India and AAPI, according to Kumar, “is all about dedication and commitment of Indian-American physicians to improving healthcare in India.”

While describing the goals of the summit, Kumar said, “This international health summit is a forum for innovative opportunities for learning, networking and giving back to our motherland by prominent and talented physicians and surgeons as well as the medical industry leaders and scientists who are very passionate about serving our homeland, and the 1.2 billion people of this great nation. Aimed at advancing the accessibility, affordability and the quality of world-class healthcare, the Summit will focus on prevention, diagnosis, treatment options and share ways to truly improve healthcare transcending global boundaries”

AAPI USA has been actively engaged in harnessing the power of Indian Diaspora, he said.

“In our efforts to realize these goals, we have successfully gained the support of several leading healthcare experts and professional physician associations, including GAPIO and AKMG to collaborate on this ground breaking international healthcare summit, designed to bring the best, most efficient and cost effective healthcare solutions to the people of India,” Kumar explained.

In his inaugural address, Vayalar Ravi, India’s Minister for Overseas Affairs, said, “Healthcare in India is one of the largest sectors, in terms of revenue and employment.” He complimented the Indian doctors who have made tremendous progress in the medical world and are known for their excellent and compassionate services to their patients around the world.

Ravi acknowledged the urgent need to create additional health infrastructure, which entails a higher level of investment in the Indian healthcare market in the coming years. He underlined that the government of India is committed to the ever increasing need to invest in the health care system in India. He urged the pharmaceutical companies to keep price of life saving medicines at an affordable level, in order to make it available and accessible to all. “No one should be denied medical treatment for want of money,” he said.

Oommen Chandy, the Chief Minister of Kerala, who delivered the keynote address, after inaugurating the summit with the lighting of the traditional lamp, highlighted the Kerala model of healthcare which has resulted in Kerala being the leader in providing healthcare among all the states in India. He pointed to the life expectancy of 75 in the state, the highest amongst all states in the country, and the least infant mortality rate among all the states of India as proof of the effectiveness of Kerala’s healthcare policy over the past decades.

The Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, T.K.A Nair, while felicitating AAPI for this innovative summit, lauded the physicians of Indian Origin for their achievements and leadership around the world. While focusing on the government’s many programs to reach healthcare to all, he urged the private sector to work and collaborate with the government to make healthcare affordable to all of India’s people.

Others who had addressed the august gathering included, Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, President, American Medical Association; Dr. Emmanuel Cassimatis, President & CEO, ECFMG, USA;  Dr. Vinay Kumar, President, Indian Medical Association;  Dr. Chittaranjan Ranawat, clinical professor of orthopedic surgery, Cornell University, New York, Dr. Prathap C. Reddy, chairman, Apollo Group of Hospitals; Dr. K.K. Talwar, Chairman, Medical Council of India; and Dr. M.S. Valiathan, Honorary Advisor, Manipal University.

The summit was packed with several plenary sessions, interactive roundtables, clinical practice workshops, and meet-the-expert/CEOs sessions, providing an ambience of learning and inspiration. With participation from some of the world’s most well-known physicians and industry leaders, the summit proved to be very critical and significant, especially when India is increasingly becoming a destination for medical tourism.

More than 100 opinion leaders and expert speakers from across the globe presented cutting-edge scientific findings related to clinical practice, representing major centers of excellence, institutions and professional associations. For the first time at GHS,  a CEO Forum representing CEOs from around the world and from hospitals, teaching institutions and major healthcare sectors, including pharmaceutical, medical devices and technology, came  together to explore potential opportunities for collaboration. Omar Ishrak, Worldwide CEO of Medtronic, Inc was the keynote speaker, while the session was moderated by T K A Nair. Dr.G.N.Singh, Drug Controller General of India with his team was joined by leading healthcare policy makers and Hospital CEOs.

“This Convention has shown how well the Indian doctors have proved to be an effective force in the medical world in USA,” said Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, Vice President of API.

“Providing a forum for innovative opportunities for learning, networking and giving back to our motherland that have now enabled us to plan ahead and prepare for an outstanding event that has a record number of nearly 400 very prominent and talented physicians and surgeons from abroad who are very passionate about serving their homeland,” Dr. Seema Jain, Secretary of AAPI explained. “Among other areas, the summit focused on included, prevention, diagnosis, treatment options and share ways to truly improve healthcare transcending global boundaries, Dr. Ajay Lodha, Treasurer of AAPI said.

“There was so much to digest within two days,” Dr. Natarajan NJ, a Kerala-based physician, who attended the event, said. “I am glad I came. It was wonderful learning from the seminars on diverse topics led by eminent physicians and researchers from around the world. I have been enriched by the different perspectives on medicine and healthcare.”

Lauding the AAPI leadership and the organizers of the summit, Dr. Durgesh Mankikar, Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees, said, “this has been the best summit ever held in terms of the number of participations, the depth of knowledge shared and the collaboration and goodwill created between AAPI and the local government.” Mankikar was hopeful that if the current collaboration continues, AAPI will be happy to work with the government of India in establishing a Medical College in the country.

During the valedictory ceremony held on January 3rd at the IMA House, Kochi, Kumar received a symbolic “Key” marking the launch of the Amrita Peripheral Clinic, supported by AAPI and run by AKMG. “AAPI supports 15 clinics around the country. However, this is the first one in the state of Kerala,” Kumar said.

While summarizing the outcome of the summit, Anwar Feroz, who has been instrumental in organizing the summit said, “Through the successful summits, we have been able to influence the government of India, state and local governments and the private sector in enacting policies and programs based on the inputs and recommendations from the summit.”

“What we do here is going to help make policies and programs that benefit the people of this great country,” Dr. Jayesh Shah, President-Elect of AAPI, said.

Through the summit, which has become an annual feature,  AAPI has been instrumental in developing strategic alliances with various organizations. “It is this experience and the resulting relationships that have enabled us to organize this outstanding event, which has a record participation from around the world and from India,” Shah, said.  “We plan to build on the success of the summit with the 7th GHS 2014 to be held in Ahmadabad, Gujarat from Jan 3-5, 2014, in order to realize the objectives of the summit,” he added.

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