India’s Vice President, Minister of Health, urge Indian-American physicians to come home

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Leaders of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, AAPI, with India’s Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, center in white, at the July 21, 2019, 13th Global Health Summit in Hyderabad, hosted by AAPI, GAPIO, BAPIO, and numerous alumni organizations. (Photo: courtesy AAPI)

India’s Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, urged physicians working and living abroad to return to India during his Keynote speech inaugurating the 13th Annual Global Healthcare Summit of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, AAPI, in Hyderabad, July 21.

That message to return to the Motherland was re-emphasized by India’s Mnister for Health, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, who also addressed the gathering of more than 100 physicians and experts from around the world.

Speaking at the meeting held at the Taj Krishna Hotel the Vice President said he was proud of Indian physicians who provided health care around the globe and praised AAPI for tis 160 chapters across the U.S.

“If you want to go abroad, go learn earn and then return,” Naidu said, according to a press release from AAPI. Naidu spoke at length about Indian culture and the civilization that gave birth to ‘renowned’ medical practices and higher education.

Calling upon the Physicians of Indian Origin to rededicate their lives for the wellbeing of their motherland, India, serving 130 crore people who need their servicers. Naidu asked AAPI delegates not to forget their where they came from.

In his welcome address, Dr. Suresh Reddy, President of AAPI, said, “This GHS has promised to be one with the greatest impact and significant contributions towards harnessing the power of international Indian diaspora to bring the most innovative, efficient, cost effective healthcare solutions to India.”

“Apart from conducting CMEs, seminars and workshops, AAPI must consider collaborating with various governments and other private organizations in establishing a state-of-the-art healthcare facility in each district of the country where affordable treatment is dispensed,” the Vice President of India told the delegates. He praised AAPI for what it was already doing vis-a-vis Indian healthcare services.

“Only a healthy nation can be a progressive and wealthy nation,” the Vice President said. He touted India’s latest health insurance system considered the largest ever endeavor in the world, Ayushman Bharat.

Naidu described India’s healthcare sector as grappling with inadequate public spending, low doctor-patient ratio, high share of out-of-pocket expenditure, inadequate infrastructure in rural areas, lack of penetration of health insurance and inadequate preventive mechanisms, Mr

“We face a huge shortage in the number of qualified medical practitioners in India, especially specialist doctors. It is crucial that we address this huge gap in the supply of trained healthcare practitioners by opening more medical colleges and increasing the number of seats at both graduate and Post graduate levels,” Naidu said.

India’s Minister of Health Harsh Vardhan, at the lamp-lighting ceremony at the Global Health Summit hosted by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin along with the Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, and other organizations, July 21, 2019, in Hyderabad. (Photo: courtesy AAPI)

“Let us develop a structural relationship between AAPI and the government of India,” Minister of Health Dr. Harsh Vardhan said. “It is your love for your motherland that has brought you here today,”

Dr. Vardhan 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,” India’s Minister of Health asserted to loud applause.

The Vice President of India urged all medical practitioners of Indian origin working across globe, to collaborate and work with the Indian government and academic institutions to make Indian medical education world class.

He called upon AAPI to “help in promoting the use of telemedicine in remote rural areas which lack access to healthcare facilities. Telemedicine can be used effectively in radiology, cardiology, oncology, dermatology and a few other areas. It will help in reducing unnecessary visits to the hospitals for consultations with specialists and avoiding long distance travel.”

Mr. Naidu said that India needs an affordable health care revenue model to meet the challenges of modern day lifestyle. The Vice President called on the medical fraternity to put in efforts to bring down the costs of medical devices to make healthcare affordable. He further said that youngsters are increasingly falling prey to ailments due to a variety of factors, including sedentary lifestyle, improper dietary habits and job-related stresses.

“We must all focus more on the service. The medical service in India is the need of the hour. India is still lagging behind in spite of a lot of advancement in medication. The Center is encouraging private sector in the medical healthcare sector,” he added.

Claiming that India has the potential to become a medical tourist center in the future, the Vice President said accessibility and affordability of healthcare should be ensured as a large section of the country`s population belongs to the middle and lower-middle class.

The Vice president said that while India is progressing economically and incomes of people are improving, the common man is unable to meet the medical bill whenever there is a medical emergency in the family. With penetration of health insurance remaining quite low and majority of the Indian population preferring to seek medical treatment from private sector in health emergencies by spending from their own pockets, this problem gets compounded, he added.

Naidu urged the Centre and state governments to invest more in the healthcare sector and emphasized the role of public-private Partnership (PPP) model which should be encouraged more.

“Along with strengthening our Primary Health Centres, we must explore innovative, out of box technology solutions such as tele-medicine. I appeal all the doctors to visit a School every week to counsel children on dangers of lifestyle diseases and unhealthy dietary habits.”

Pointing to modern day sedentary lifestyles, Naidu noted health issues had undergone change.

“India’s burden of diseases has shifted from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases as incomes rose over the last 26 years. More deaths (61.8 per cent) were caused by non-communicable diseases such as cardio-vascular diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2016 as against 53.6 per cent deaths due to communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases in 1990,” Naidu noted.

The Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) organized by AAPI in collaboration with the Government of India, British Association of People of Indian Origin, and the Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, and a number of Alumni chapters. had as its major theme and focus “Women’s Health.”

A team of physicians, consisting of women leaders of AAPI, including Drs. Sangeeta Agrawal; Uma Jonnalagadda; Soumya Neravelta; Stella Gandhi;  Swati Yalamanchi;  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 on July 22.

Other main speakers included Dr. Seema Arora, chair of AAPI’s board of directors; Dr. Prathap C Reddy, founder-chairman of Apollo Hospitals, and founder of GAPIO, who praised AAPI’s efforts to help India through the summits, in making policies in healthcare delivery more effective; Dr. Sreeni Ganagasani, chairman of GHS Convention;

The GHS 2019 was attended by over 100 opinion leaders and expert speakers from many countries across the globe, according to Dr. Ganagasani.

Several other important speakers from AAPI addressed the gathering including AAPI’s President-elect Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, and Dr. Anupama Gotimukula. Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, past president of AAPI and a senior strategic advisor of AAPI gave the vote of thanks.

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