36th annual convention of the Association of Kerala Medical Graduates held in Philadelphia

The 36th annual convention of the Association of Kerala Medical Graduates (AKMG) at the Downtown Marriott in Philadelphia, September 5-7, was attended by hundreds of doctors and their family from the US, Canada, England and India. The AKMG is a pioneering organization of Indian physicians in the US, which was formed three years earlier than the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin.

Dr. Seema Jain, president of AAPI, noted that AKMG inspired the formation of AAPI. At the concluding public meeting, Dr. Jain said there are more than 110,000 doctors and medical students of Indian origin in the US. The number of medical students is estimated at 38,000. In some universities, more than 30 percent of the students are of Indian origin.

“In several states, one in four patients, consult a doctor of Indian origin. Nationally it is one in seven. It means that the Indian physicians play a major role in the healthcare in the US and their absence would disrupt the health sector,” Dr. Jain said. “AAPI continues to play a major role in in the health care in this country. We played a crucial role in securing the approval of Dr. Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom she met recently, is keenly watching the activities of AAPI and in his future plans AAPI has a special place. She asked all the Indian physicians to join AAPI.

Anto Antony MP, the only political leader from India to attend the event, praised the achievements of the Indian doctors using the knowledge gained from India. Once their departure from India was considered as brain drain, but now they are the brain bank of the country.

He pointed out the fast changing technology and the difficulties to cope up with it. More than 85 percent of technology and innovation happens in the US. America conquers the world with it. People may say that America gains importance through its armed strength. “The truth is that their gains are mostly through technology. Many nations tried to compete or challenge America and are unsuccessful till now.” Companies from India have employed 10,000 Indian is the US while they have given jobs to more than 22,000 Americans. He also congratulated the organization for keeping its unity even after 36 years, which should be a model for other organizations that split frequently.

Dr. Azad Mooppan, who runs upscale hospitals in several countries and five states in India, employing more than 13,500 people, quoted Silicon Valley experts who said that machines will replace 80 percent of the work currently done by the doctors. In future, the patient could sit at home and consult the doctor. “Yet the importance of the physicians or the profession will not be diminished. The roles may change,” he said.

Dr. Alex Thomas, president of AKMG, noted the revival of AKMG in recent years. Yet many of the doctors and medical students would not take membership in AKMG or AAPI, which needs to be changed. He noted that there about 4000 doctors of Kerala heritage, but only a few are associated with AKMG. “I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to serve as your president for its 36th year. As I undertake to represent the AKMG as its President for 2014-2015,” he said. He thanked the convention team with Dr. Joseph Mathew as the Convention Chairman, who had put together the event that included CMEs and a great cultural and entertainment program.

At the event, he handed over the charge to incoming president Dr. Sunil Kumar from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. Kumar announced that the next convention will be held in Miami Beach in July 14-16 in 2016. He said he will work to strengthen the organization and improve relations with other organizations like Fokana and Fomaa and also with organizations of other medical professionals. The attitude of the physicians keeping aloof from other medical professionals has no place in the US

An aggressive move to enroll more members, especially youngsters will be launched soon. To attract youngsters, AKMG members will work as mentors for the medical students and those who wish to study medicine. As always, AKMG will continue the focus on charity activities and helping the medical colleges back in Kerala. He said AKMG will strengthen the relations with AAPI, which can work nationally. Dr Kumar also promised to help Indian American candidates running for elections pointing that they deserve our support as part of our community irrespective of party affiliations.

Dr. Kurian Abraham, patron of the convention noted the reasons for the lack of participation of the young doctors. He said the medical education is very expensive in America and many young doctors are more concerned about repaying the huge student loan they have taken, which has high interest rate too. They are more focused on career and money than social activities, he pointed out.

Dr. Joseph Mathew, convention chair, Dr. Narendra Kumar, former president of AKMG and AAPI, Dr. Aravind Pillai, former president of AKMG and current chair of the AAPI Board of Trustees, addressed the delegates at the convention. The cultural events include Amrutha sandhya, a dance program by New Jersey based Kalashri school led by Bina Menon.  The entertainment for the concluding night on Sept 6th was the Bobby Chemmanur Jayaram show 2015 directed by Nadirshah with star performers Padmasree Jayaram the film actor, Priyamani, the award winning film actress,   Pisharodi & Dharmajan of Badai Bangalaw fame and an ace singer Unnimenon.

The three day convention began with a cruise around Philadelphia. On the second day, Onam was celebrated with traditional festivities including a reception to King Mahabaili with thalapoli and chenda melam followed by an Onam feast. Various seminars, CME classes and campus comedy night which showcased the artistic talents of the doctors were the highlights of the convention. At the literary seminar several doctors read their literary works including poems. Dr. MV Pillai, who moderated the event noted the contributions of doctors like Dr. Siddharth Mukherji and Dr. Abraham Vergese for literature.

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