Dr Kumar and team lifted AAPI as premiere most ethnic body

AAPI_NARENDRA-wev-bCHICAGO: With a widening base of membership and a hefty change for the better in its financial position through concerted team efforts, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) has emerged once again as the premier most ethnic organization in the country. It is now set to meet new challenges and play its role more effectively in promoting health care here and back home in India.

The inspiring leadership of Dr Narendra Kumar at the top was a key factor, many a member opine, but the AAPI chief credits his entire team – Drs Jayesh Shah, Ravi Jahagirdar, A Lodha, Sanjeevani Jain, Shivangi, Hemant Dhingra and many a silent worker – for this face lift.

The leadership qualities of Dr Kumar received formal recognition from none other than the Indian government when it decided to bestow on him Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in January this year. He was given the award for “global leadership, achievements in the field of medicine, community service, and contributions to building bridges between India and the United States.”

In a talk to this paper, Dr Kumar said that two factors play a key role helping any organization meeting its goals – membership and financial health. “We decided to act positively for bettering our position in both these areas. We have expanded our membership base by inducting more member associations and inducing more and more second generation Indian physicians to join us.

We achieved a measure of success and we hope to do much better in coming years. Our membership now is 20,000 including 12,000 life members,” he said
The AAPI finances were in a mess in the sense that they fell short of what was needed for meeting its normal obligations – close to half a million dollars a year. There was hundreds of thousand dollars of debt from the preceding years and a borrowing from Trustees fund.

Dr Kumar took initiative and hosted a nationwide fundraiser actively involving nine AAPI city chapters. When others were hesitant to commit almost a million dollars towards Shreya Ghoshal Musical Concert, he took the initiative and with the help of Committee members and nine City Regional Chapters, had a nation wide multi- city tour with a hefty success netting in $1.25 million.

“This was shared in part with the regional chapters but that this also brought the national and regional chapters much closer impacting favorably on the membership area,” he said. The collective efforts, he added, also “helped us together to raise over a million dollars from pharmaceutical companies in the past 10 months and we were able to run AAPI office and its functions without major financial strain and improve substantially our financial health.”

Yet another remarkable achievement during Dr Kumar’s reign was the hosting of the first ever Global Healthcare Summit in India. AAPI had health care annual meets earlier too but this time it was participated by physicians of Indian origin from across the world. Over 1,250 delegates from around the world had descended upon the city of Kochi, India to participate in the summit highlighted by presence of top ranking Federal and government officials, a variety of seminars and workshops culminating in gala entertainment.

Various topics discussed at the GHS 2013 held at the international convention center at Le Méridien in Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala, 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 Summit, which is a public-private initiative between the Government of India and AAPI, according to Dr. Kumar, “is all about dedication and commitment of Indian-American physicians to improving healthcare in India.”

AAPI would not be worth its name if it does not make concerted efforts to bring the problems faced by its members before the US lawmakers to have them addressed and resolved.
The growing clout of the physicians of Indian origin in the country came into display on April 11 at Capitol Building Capitol Hill, Washington, DC as about 40 US Senators and Congressmen lined up to address the over 150 AAPI members, who had gathered to express their voice in support of their unified agenda, seeking their rights to practice their profession in a dignified manner and continue to provide quality healthcare in a cost effective manner.

The topics discussed were many, ranging from capping malpractice insurance premium, providing a permanent fix to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, helping raise the size of medical school admissions and seats, increasing residency slots by 15,000 positions a year, overhauling immigration reforms that would include international medical graduates along with international students graduating with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) being fast-tracked for Green Cards, making J1 Visa Waiver a permanent feature among other areas of concerns. The legislative meet was a huge success and all those attending returned highly satisfied.

Dr Kumar said that AAPI made some positive changes under the leadership of Dr Jayesh Shah and his Bylaws committee. Efforts were made to build partnership with component chapters for mutual benefit through multi-city educational programs and AAPI accredited CME activities which brought some of the sub-specialty chapters even closer by providing value added benefits. In the field of sport, AAPI organized National Golf tournament quite successfully in Orlando.

He however added that AAPI faced some turbulence from time to time and “we have overcome those and have come out stronger. I am confident and have high hopes in the future of AAPI and in the incoming leadership. My sincere congratulations and best wishes to our incoming President Dr Jayesh Shah and all the newly elected leaders for a very successful and productive year,” he acknowledged with lot of humility. .

An accomplished physician and surgeon specializing in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Dr Kumar had his medical degree from Trivandrum Medical College, Kerala and post-graduate residency from Banaras Hindu University and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
Dr Kumar has been involved in social, professional and political arenas and has taken active leadership roles in various medical organizations both in USA and abroad. Under his effective leadership, AAPI has become a force to reckon with. AAPI’s stellar role has come in for appreciation with the political leaders both in India and the United States.

AAPI Convention
AAPI is holding its annual 31st Convention in Chicago during Memorial Day week end. A crowded program is chalked out for four days beginning Thursday May 23. The Chicago Convention Committee 2013 is Convention Chairman: Birinder Marwah; Convener: Prem Rupani, MD; Co-Chair: Umang Patel; Treasurer: Amarjit Singh; Convention Advisory Council Chair: Satya Ahuja; Co-Chair: Jayesh B Shah, MD; Co-Chair: Ashok Jain; Co-Chair: Deepak Mittal; Advisor: Durgesh Mankikar; Host Chapter President: Raj Arora.

Ramesh Soparawala
India Post News Service