The COVID-19 Pandemic continues to impact the world as never before with millions around the world being affected. India and the United States lead the world chart with some of the highest number of cases being impacted and several hundreds losing their lives.
Collaboration and sharing of knowledge and expertise among the nations of the world is key to combating the virus and finding solutions to contain the spread and heal those who are affected. In this context, a Virtual Panel Discussion on “Can 30 Seconds Save the World? Israeli-Indian Cooperation to develop a rapid test for COVID-19” was held on August 26th.
Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Chairman, Parikh Media Worldwide moderated a panel discussion, which was cosponsored by the Indian and Israeli Consulates in New York, American Jewish Committee, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, Parikh Media Worldwide, ITV Gold and the Hindu-Jewish Coalition. New York based Consul Generals Israel Nitzan (Israel) and Randhir Jaiswal (India) gave opening remarks as the cohosts of the program along with Rabbi David Levy of AJC New Jersey. Dr. Parikh gave the audience of over 150 guests which included Panama’s Health Minister.
In his remarks, Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) called for a joint US-Israel-India Health dialogue with Israeli physicians from reputed hospitals to study and identify as to how with significantly limited resources, Israel is able to provide quality healthcare to all of its citizens. Dr. Jonnalagadda provided a brief on AAPI’s role and several initiatives it has undertaken in fighting COVID-19 in the US and India. “AAPI members are putting their best efforts to help our patients, especially those impacted by COVID,” he said. “Several of our physicians have been affected in this pandemic. We are continuing our efforts to make AAPI a more dynamic and vibrant organization playing a meaningful and relevant part in advocating health policies and practices that best serve the interests of all patients and promoting the physician’s role as the leaders of the team based health care delivery.”
He recalled of the AAPI’s mission to Israel and Jordan in 2019, and hoped “to work with our close friend Nissim B Reuben to ensure that we take such a mission annually to Israel in cooperation with AJC where we will call on the Israeli PM, Foreign Minister as well as Indian & US Ambassadors in Israel, enabling series of dialogue and discussions between India, Israel and the United States.
Dr. Jagdish Gupta, AAPI Mid-Atlantic Director and a member of AAPI’s BOT, in his remarks highlighted that his alma mater the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) which hosted the large mission of Israeli COVID-19 experts on its premises earlier this month led by Ambassador Ron Malka, who has been playing a significant role in fighting COVID-19 in India. Dr. Gupta hopes to see Israel-India Medical Cooperation between healthcare institutions such as AIIMS as well as other leading private sector hospitals such as Apollo, Medanta, Zydus etc. He Dr. Gupta, in his capacity as the President of the AIIMS Alumni in the US, oferred whole hearted support from the Alumni Group in future Israel-India medical cooperation initiatives.
Dr. Jonnalagadda and Dr. Gupta were referring to an Israeli team, led by a “high ranking” research and development (R&D) defense officials, were in Delhi recently with a multi-pronged mission, codenamed “Operation Breathing Space” to work with Indian authorities on the coronavirus (COVID-19) response.
Amongst the plans for the team, which were coordinated by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), and Indian Ministry of Defense (MOD) and the Ministry of Health, were four different kinds of rapid tests, which are jointly developed after trials on Indian COVID-19 patients, as well as high-tech equipment to minimize exposure of medical staff to the virus, advanced respirators and special sanitizers developed in Israel.
“What they all have in common is the ability to detect the presence of the virus in the body quickly — usually within minutes. Developing diagnostic capabilities is a goal for the State of Israel and of many additional countries around the world. It is the most effective way to cut off ‘chains of infection’, prevent prolonged quarantine and enable the reopening of the global economy,” a media report on the Israeli mission to India said.
“If even one of the tests proves to be effective in testing for coronavirus in 30-40 seconds, this could be a game changer for the whole world and how we behave, at least until we have a vaccine,” Israeli Ambassador Ron Malka, who flew to Delhi by the special flight from Tel Aviv with the team and medical equipment aid, had said. “Imagine how much easier it will be to operate flights, schedule conferences and meetings, if we can test so easily and quickly,” he explained.
In his remarks, Ambassador Dr. Ron Malka gave an impressive overview of India-Israel relations. Besides the recent mega COVID-19 mission, he mentioned that Israel recently signed a mega water management agreement with Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state.
Dr. Sudhir Parikh provided an overview of the growth of Indo-Israeli relationship going back to 1950 when India recognized Israel. With tireless efforts from Indian American community, including Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Dr. Bharat Barai and several other Indian-American leaders nationwide, India formally established diplomatic relationship in 1991.
Dr. Parikh thanked his close friend Nissim B Reuben for inviting him and his colleagues Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda and Dr. Jagdish Gupta to be part of the panel. Both the Parikh and Reuben families are personally known to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who fondly calls Nissim India’s Rashtradoot – Goodwill Ambassador to the Jewish World. Since 2002, Nissim has had a significant role to play through his work at AJC building robust Jewish & Indian diaspora relations jointly advocating for close ties between the US, India & Israel in the strategic, economic, tech & cultural areas including organizing Hanukkah receptions in his Indian-Jewish tradition at the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC and Consulates in New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Houston.
Dr. Parikh offered Ambassador Ron Malka assistance in the process of enabling a similar regular exchange of experts in the health sector between India & Israel. He commended both PMs Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu, their scientific advisors & Ambassadors Ron Malka and Sanjeev Singla for their role in spearheading the robust India-Israel ties mentioning that the large Israeli delegation setting up a two weeks COVID testing camp in Delhi under Ambassador Malka’s leadership as an example.
As Secretary of the Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO) both Dr. Sudhir Parikh and American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) President Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda enthusiastically offered to advocate with the US administration and congress the importance of forging closer cooperation in the health and disaster management sector between the US, India and Israel.
Israel has set up 29 Centers of Excellence across India to help Indian farmers learn the best Israeli expertise in Agriculture to benefit Indian farmers. This is a huge help as 60% of the Indian economy is still dependent on Agriculture. Dr. Parikh suggested to Ambassador Ron Malka, that “with assistance from the Indian & Jewish diaspora communities, we would like Israel to be able to set up similar Centers of Health Cooperation across India.” He offered whole hearted support from GAPIO & AAPI for this endeavor bringing in our own USAID into the loop from the US.
Andrew Gross, Director, New-Jersey—Israel Commission from the New Jersey Governor’s office gave closing remarks offering Governor Phil Murphy’s robust support to partnership initiatives between New Jersey, Israel and India in all areas especially in the health, biomedical and biotech sectors.
Nissim B. Reuben, Assistant Director, Asia Pacific Institute (API) and American Jewish Committee (AJC) said, “I am honored to represent AJC every year and address on the US-India-Israel partnership at the AAPI Legislative Day on Capitol Hill. “We are looking forward to working with Nissim & AJC on taking an AAPI Leadership Mission to Israel and helping in the process of establishing Israeli Medical Centers of Excellence in India,” Dr. Jonnalagadda added.
For more details on AAPI and its many programs and events, please visit: www.aapiusa.org