AAPI’s virtual convention

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin June 27, 2020, at the organization’s first ever Virtual Glibal Summit held June 16-28 in lieu of the traditional 5-day AAPI Annual Convention. (Photo: AAPI)

In historic first, Prime Minister Narendra Modi  addresses 38th annual meet of ​Indian-American physicians​

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had high praise for the hard work and accomplishments of Indian-American physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the ultimate sacrifice of those who died helping others in the line of duty.

“I am proud of the achievements and contributions of the Indian-origin physicians across the world in the battle against COVID-19,” Prime Modi said at the first ever Virtual Global Summit of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) on Saturday, June 27, 2020. This was the first time that a Prime Minister of India had addressed the AAPI convention in its many decades of existence.

Modi was the Chief Guest on the final day of the two-week online gathering which began June 16, held in lieu of 38th Annual AAPI Convention scheduled to be held in Chicago.

In his brief remarks, Dr. Suresh Reddy, president of AAPI thanked Modi for his leadership of India and making India a word leader.

“I have closely followed your contributions, sacrificing your life to save that of others,” Modi said. “Some of you have done the ultimate sacrifice of giving up your own lives at the service of others. You will be remembered forever,” he added.

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin is considered the largest ethnic medical organization, representing some 100,000 doctors around the country, as well as a large number of medical students and interns. According to AAPI’s estimates, every 7th patient in the United States as a whole, and every 5th patient in rural and inner cities across the nation is treated by a physician of Indian origin.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude for being the warriors who are committed to save the lives of so many during the pandemic,” Modi added.

“We are extremely honored that the Prime Minister joined us,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagada, the incoming president of AAPI, told Desi Talk. “He is so aware and on the ball with regard to the medicines and the vaccines and facts about COVID-19, in India and the world,” Dr. Jonnalagada added.

Dr. Reddy told Desi Talk that even though around 1,000 people registered for the online summit, many more were most probably listening in and watching along with the actual registrants. That would bring the total number at the online Summit to the same as those who attend the annual conventions in person.

Prime Minister Modi credited the citizens of India for the efforts they had made with the lockdown. India is much better placed than many other nations and India’s recovery rate is rising, he said, and compared the compared the outcomes to those in some of the Western nations.

“As against the death rate of 350 individuals per million in the U.S. and over 600 million in European nations like UK, Italy and Spain, the rate of fatalities in India is less that 12,” Modi said. He also dwelt on the performance of different states within India. “Uttar Pradesh has been remarkably successful in fighting against the coronavirus,” as have several other states, he contended.

Considering India has the world’s second-highest population with high density areas and a culture where people are used to meeting in large social, religious and political gatherings, where workers migrate in large numbers from one place to another, India still managed to save thousands of lives, Modi told the AAPI meeting participants.

COVID-19, the Prime Minister maintained, provided an opportunity for India to become more self-reliant both in the field of healthcare services as well as in manufacturing of certain products. For instance, at the start of the coronavirus, there was only one COVID-19 testing lab and now there are 1,000, Modi said.

Plus, where India used to import most of its personal protection equipment (PPE) kits at the start of the pandemic, it is now almost self-reliant and in a position to export them, Modi maintained, manufacturing more than 3 million ( 30 Lakhs) N95 masks per week, and more than 50,000 new ventilators are being manufactured in India.

“Stay safe and well and continue to contribute to health of the world. Stay healthier and stronger,” he told AAPI members.

“Honoured to attend Prime Minister’s address at AAPI’s first virtual summit. He applauded the role of healthcare professionals; frontline warriors & the commendable work of AAPI during the COVID- 19 pandemic,” tweeted India’s Ambassador to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu.

Ambassador Sandhu was introduced by Dr. Seema Arora, chair of AAPI’s Board of Trustees, as “one of the most experienced Indian diplomats on US affairs, having served in the Indian Mission in Washington DC in various capacities and at the Permanent Mission of India to United Nations, New York.”

Ambassador Sandhu also expressed high praise for Indian American physicians. “You are the real heroes who have risked your lives and have been out to assist others,” Sandhu said, adding that there was widespread recognition of their contributions. “Lawmakers in the US appreciate your contributions. AAPI members have greatly contributed risking their own lives.”

He conveyed his condolences to families who had lost loved ones to the pandemic, and thanked the organization for “your support to the Indian Embassy helping Indian students stranded here due to the pandemic. Your online Health Desk has helped many Indians in the US affected by the pandemic.”

He also gave kudos to AAPI for its charitable work in India. “India and the US are strategic partners” Ambassador Sandhu said, citing collaboration between the two nations on cutting edge medical research in healthcare sector and science. With inexpensive medical supply to 127 countries, Sandhu said, India has become “a reliable partner in global supply chain of all healthcare needs.”

In the days from June 16 to 28, the Virtual Summer Summit was addressed by among others, India’s Consul General to Chicago Amit Kumar, Congressman Raja Krishnamurthy, D-Illinois, and Soumya Swaminathan from the World Health Organization; American Medical Association President Susan Bailey; U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Dr. Prem Reddy of Prime Healthcare Services. Inc., a press release from AAPI said.

Other services provided during the several days of the virtual event included 18.5 hours of Continuing Medical Education seminars, Nurses Appreciation event, and a cultural extravaganza as well as Hollywood/Bollywood celebrities, keynote speeches, workshops, Medical Jeopardy competition, plenary sessions, a CEO Forum, and a Women’s Leadership Forum.

Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, senior advisor to AAPI and former Board of Trustees member, congratulate incoming AAPI President Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagada and outgoing President Dr. Suresh Reddy “for doing an unprecedented CME program, with entertainment, and topping it with having Prime Minister Modi address the Indian-American physicians.”

“AAPI has come a long way and is a premier institution today in the medical and healthcare field not just here in America, but also in India. I wish them good luck from Parikh Worldwide Media,” Dr. Parikh added.

Over the course of the AAPI online summit, Chicago Consul General Amit Kumar praised the generous contributions of AAPI and its lobbying efforts on some of the issues affecting the broader Indian American community.

Being one of the oldest Indian American organizations, AAPI is also among the most influential, Kumar said. “I believe all of you will have an important role to play in contributing to this. All of you in a sense are permanent Ambassadors here. You have an understanding of the US. You have an understanding of India and Indian society. So based on this understanding and the network that you have you will be in a position to take forward this relationship in different areas,” Consul General Kumar is quoted saying in the AAPI press release.

Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, whose wife is a physician, praised AAPI members for their sacrifice and generosity. “You are very influential and we very much appreciate and we look to your guidance on healthcare policy and programs,” he told AAPI members.

“You touch the lives of 13 percent of Americans, while serving 1 out of every 7 patients,” Krishnamoorthi said, adding, “If you dream it you can achieve it.”

Among those in the team that organized the online convention was Convention Chair Dr. Meher Medavaram. “The fabulous Donald Stephens Convention Center, a world class facility will afford an intimate setting that will facilitate our ability to convey cutting-edge research and CMEs, Medical Jeopardy, promote business relationships, and display ethnic items,” Dr. Medavaram had promised before the summit began.

During a well-attended Webinar, Padma Vibhushan Sadhguru, founder of the non-profit spiritual organization Isha Foundation, addressed the audience on “Challenging Times Navigating A Way Forward After Covid19,” AAPI said.

For the first time ever, special daily live musical tributes were performed by various Bollywood singers including Anuradha Paudwal, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Jyotica Tangri.

Members of AAPI worked hard to raise funds for the summit that lived up to its promise of providing “all manner” of education and entertainment.

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