AAPI’s 32nd annual convention inaugurated in San Antonio

Third AAPI meet to be held in Texas.

By The American Bazaar Staff

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: The 32nd annual convention of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) commenced at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in Grand Hyatt Hotel here, on Thursday.

The 32nd annual convention of AAPI being inaugurated with the lighting of the traditional lamp
The 32nd annual convention of AAPI being inaugurated with the lighting of the traditional lamp

The meet was inaugurated with the lighting of the traditional Indian lamp by Dr. Jayshreeben Mehta, president of Medical Council of India (MCI), Parvathaneni Harish, Consul General of India in Houston, Dr. Jayesh Shah, President of AAPI, Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, President-Elect of AAPI, Dr. Shahi Shah, Chairman, Board of Trustees of AAPI, Dr. Vijay Koli, Chairman of the Convention Organizing Committee, and  Leticia R. Van de Putte, Texas State Senator.

AAPI is the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States. AAPI is an umbrella organization which has nearly 130 local chapters, specialty societies and alumni organizations.

In his welcome address, Dr. Jayesh Shah reminded the more than 1,500 participants from across the nation that it was the third AAPI convention held in Texas and the first in San Antonio.

Senator Leticia R. Van de Putte praised the physicians for their commitment, dedication and innovative approach to providing healthcare to the diverse population in the area and the entire nation.

Earlier, Dr. Jayshreeben Mehta inaugurated the AAPI exhibition booths, representing almost all areas of medicine, education, commerce, research, media and entertainment by cutting the ribbon as women dressed in colorful Indian dresses welcomed the participants to the convention center with holding diyas in their hands.

In her address, Mehta lauded the achievements and contributions of Indian American physicians.

“You make a mark and a deep impact on the lives of millions of people you care for ion day to day basis that the imprint can never be erased,” she said.

During the reception at the historic La Villita in Maverick Plaza, on the banks of the Riverside, the 40-year-old San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro praised the achievements of the Indian American community, and stated that San Antonio, the fastest growing city in the US, which is now the 7thlargest city in the US, is proud to host Diwali celebrations on the banks of the same river every year.

Opening his remarks with “namaste”, Castro, who has been appointed Secretary of HUD by President Barack Obama, referred to AAPI’s Obesity Awareness Campaign, which the city has enthusiastically joined in, and has made all efforts to reduce obesity among its citizens.

“Members of AAPI have both collectively and individually been engaged in addressing the huge healthcare related needs of our motherland, India for several decades, by organizing, supporting, partnering and collaborating with local groups in India and making a difference in their villages, cities or states,” Dr. Jayesh Shah, said in his opening remarks during the first ever Town Hall Meeting organized. “With a view to enhance these efforts and coordinate future initiatives to best serve the people of India, AAPI is organizing the Town Hall Meeting.”

Kaul Singh Thakur, Minister for Health in the state of Himachal Pradesh, the Guest of Honor, thanked AAPI members for the Healthcare Clinic they had organized in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. He urged AAPI to adopt and provide healthcare in the tribal regions in his state, while assuring all possible support to AAPI and its members.

Dr. Seema Jain, who is scheduled to be assuming office as the President of AAPI in June 2015, assured the minister that she will make every effort to comply with his request to provide healthcare in the remote regions of Himachal Pradesh.

Parvathaneni Harish, Consul General of India in Houston, referred to the fact that there are over 70,000 Indian American doctors who have been educated in India at the cost of $20 billion by the government of India, and now serving in the United States. Each of them has a responsibility to give back to their motherland, he said.

Harish urged AAPI to initiate a Fellowship Program whereby, its members could go to Indian medical colleges and educate the young generation of Indian physicians and students in Medicine.

“That will be the greatest contribution AAPI can provide to your motherland,” he said.

“AAPI members represent a variety of important medical specialties,” Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, president-elect of AAPI, who will assume charge as President of AAPI during the convention, noted. “In order to carry out this expanded role of AAPI, I will welcome all the assistance from the Government of India and the states, and will work with likeminded organizations and non medical individuals, to accomplish the goals of AAPI.”

A welcome dance for the 1,500 delegates at the AAPI convention
A welcome dance for the 1,500 delegates at the AAPI convention

Anwar Feroz, Honorary Advisor of AAPI, while moderating the session, which focused on enhancing collaboration between physicians of Indian origin across the world and India, updated the audience on Swasth India Portal, which will be officially launched this Saturday by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, India’s Health Minister, who is the chief guest at the convention.

Other panelists who addressed the audience during the town hall meeting included Dr. Narendra Saini of Indian Medical Association, Dr. Ramesh Mehta of British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, Dr. Sunil Patel of Canadian Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage, Dr. Vani Rao, President of IAPA and John Meiners of American Heart Association.

Dr. Navin Shah shared with the audience on his initiatives on emergency and trauma in India, while Dr. Vemuri Murthy offered insights into ways for collaboration between India and American Heart Association.

Dr. Thakor Patel spoke on Sevak Program while Dr. Nick Shroff gave a talk on the various programs initiated by AAPI Charitable Clinics in India. During the Open Forum, several individual members shared of their projects that they have been working on either independently or in collaboration with India based organizations

The Focus Forward by Anwar Feroz had a quick review, summarization and creating a prioritized list of action steps that will help AAPI (USA) develop a clear roadmap for continued and enhanced engagement in India, to enable access to quality and affordable healthcare for all people of India. A white paper of key recommendations for AAPI (USA) will be finalized as a follow of the Town Hall Meeting, which, Dr. Shah promised will be sent to the office of the prime minister, Narendra Modi.

Dozens of AAPI members, including current and past AAPI executive body members, shared their personal experiences with Dr. Shahi Shah, who has assumed charge as the Chairman of Board of Trustees.

Earlier during the day, hundreds of AAPI members actively participated in the General Body meeting of AAPI. In addition to 11 hours CMEs, the convention has been packed with entertainment, networking and delicious Indian cuisine. Nina Davuluri, the first ever Indian American to be crowned Miss America will lead AAPI Women’s Forum Session and the “Be Fit Be Cool’ Walkathon during the convention.

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