Violence Against Physicians In India Condemned

AAPI Urges Government to prevent violence and bring to justice those harm Physicians

Chicago, IL: November 29, 2022:  “AAPI is very concerned by the recent and ongoing assaults on Doctors and Medical Professionals in India and joins American Kerala Medical Graduates Association (AKMG ) and Kerala Medical Post Graduates Association in condemning the recent physical assault on a female Doctor at Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College on  November 23rd that was caught on the CCTV,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of American Association of Physicians of India Origin (AAPI) said here today.

The leadership of AAPI, including Drs. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI, Dr. Vishweshwar Ranga, Chair, BOT of AAPI, Dr. Raghu Lolabhattu, Vice Chair, AAPI BOT, Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI, Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Chair, Alumni Committee of AAPI, Dr. Geetha Nair, President of AKMG,  Dr. Nigil Haroon, immediate past President of AKMG, and Dr. Subra Bhat,  past President of AKMG,  and the entire Executive Committee and Board Of Trustees of AAPI, stand in solidarity with our fellow physicians and medical professionals, who are on the front line, work very hard, day and night to serve and take care of patients diligently and dutifully, Dr. Kolli said in a statement issued here.

Quoting media reports last month that pointed to a very grim situation in the state of Punjab in India, Dr. Kolli said, it is shocking to learn of “Recent incidents of physical assaults and misconduct have once again instilled a sense of fear in the mind of on-duty medical staff. As per the data, compiled by the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) Association, over 400 incidents of violence against medical staff, including doctors, have been reported over the past two years.”

Recalling that from ancient times, physicians across the world have been revered for dedicating their lives for the noble mission of preventing people from getting and saving millions of lives of people from illnesses, Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI said. “We as a community of physicians and individual members of this fraternity have decided to go into the medical profession with the best of intentions. We as physicians want to help people, ease suffering and save lives. Physicians of Indian origin are well known around the world for their compassion, passion for patient care, medical skills, research, and leadership.”

“We strongly urge both the central and state governments to take decisive and drastic actions to curb these anti-social behaviors that endanger doctors serving patients,” Dr. Ranga, BOT Chair of AAPI said.  He agreed with the health experts who “want a multi-pronged approach to prevent such attacks, involving reducing the crowd by strengthening peripheral hospitals, increasing staff and providing better security.”

Dr, Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI said, “These incidents are unfortunate. We urge the federal and the state governments to provide adequate security at all hospitals and healthcare centers.” AAPI supports the petition calling for justice to the Doctor attacked in Thiruvananthapuram, which has gained support from the Kerala Medical Post Graduate Association, who stated that it is unsettling that such attacks occurred in medical campuses, which are supposed to be a secure location, he added.

“AAPI members share their angst as there is not enough support from the state and federal governments and the larger society as the attacks on Medical Professionals in India continue to rise, Dr. Meher Medavaram, Secretary of AAPI said.

Pointing to the trend of increasing violence against the Medical Professionals, and the actions against the perpetrators are disproportionately low, Dr. Sumul Raval, Treasurer of AAPI said, “Medical Professionals cannot provide the best possible health services to the people until there is a safe working environment. Potential fear of violence always looms, especially in the overcrowded Government Hospitals.”

Several aspiring Physicians have expressed concerns following the assault on the female doctor at Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College last week. The attacked female Doctor is quoted to have told Dr. Sulphi N, the Indian Medical Association state president, that she was shocked and regretted her decision to pursue a career as a Doctor and even as a neurosurgeon.

“Despite the noble intentions to save lives and prevent pain and suffering among the patients, Doctors and Medical Professionals continue to put their own lives on the line in the course of their jobs, it is shocking that face such attacks from the very people they are trying to help,” Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Chair, Alumni Committee of AAPI added.

Dr. Raghu Lolabhattu, Vice Chair, AAPI BOT said, “AAPI urges the Government of India and the State Governments across the country to bring to justice those behind the cruel attacks on the physicians who have dedicated lives for serving the sick, especially during the critical Covid pandemic, risking his own life and that of his dear ones.”

“We at AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States urge the Government of India and every state in India to make all the efforts needed to prevent violence against medical professionals and enable them to continue to serve the country with dignity, pride and security. We are shocked by the lack of coherent action against such violence and protect members of this noble fraternity. And we want immediate action against the culprits, who have been carrying on these criminal acts.” For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Alzheimer’s Drug Approval Sparks Surprising Impact

NewswiseWhen the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave controversial accelerated approval to the first Alzheimer’s drug in nearly 20 years, it had a surprising impact on attitudes about research into the disease. A survey by University of California, Irvine neuroscientists has found news coverage of the FDA’s decision made the public less willing to volunteer for Alzheimer’s pharmaceutical trials.

Picture : UCI News

The study was conducted by the UCI Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, known as UCI MIND. It appears in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. (Link to abstract: https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad220801)

The UCI team performed the survey in tandem with the FDA’s spring 2021 consideration of aducanumab. The monoclonal antibody reduces brain plaques, an Alzheimer’s hallmark, in people with the condition. A panel of outside experts advised the FDA against approval, saying aducanumab’s ability to decrease plaques hadn’t shown an impact on the disease’s clinical progression. The agency’s controversial go-ahead and further disaccord over the drug’s labeling and price captured widespread media attention.

The UCI MIND researchers conducted their study among people aged 50 to 79 who had expressed willingness to take part in drug research. Two weeks before the FDA’s decision, UCI MIND asked respondents if they would be interested in enrolling in a hypothetical four-year study of a plaque-reducing monoclonal antibody and a plaque-preventing drug known as a BACE inhibitor. Eight days after the FDA gave aducanumab the green light, UCI MIND sent survey participants a similar questionnaire with a new section about the monoclonal antibody and its approval.

“We found those who had heard about the FDA decision before our follow up became less willing to take part in a drug trial,” said neurobiology & behavior graduate student Marina Ritchie, corresponding author of the paper. “The people who learned about it from our materials demonstrated absolutely no change in their willingness.”

UCI MIND Director Joshua Grill added: “This is surprising, because it goes against some of our previous data showing people are generally more willing to take part in studies involving approved drugs compared to investigational ones. We believe it could be evidence of the powerful influence of media coverage of science.”

The survey’s findings may offer important insights for Alzheimer’s disease researchers. “Alzheimer’s is the most important medical condition society faces and we need an army of citizen volunteers to participate in drug trials,” said Grill, a professor of neurobiology & behavior and psychiatry & human behavior. “Anything that diminishes credibility in scientific research impedes our progress. Media coverage has the potential to influence people’s choices. That can hold us back or push us forward.”

The findings also show researchers need to be aware of sample bias. It occurs when people with certain characteristics participate in a study at a higher rate than others without those traits or if some research population segments are not fairly represented.

“It’s crucial for trial participants to reflect the scope of people affected by the disease,” Ritchie said. “One thing we don’t know is whether the impact of media attention may be more or less important for particular groups, especially groups underrepresented in research.”

The UCI MIND team plans to conduct further research into the issue, with emphasis on learning how to better ensure diverse populations are part of Alzheimer’s clinical trials. “We need to understand what barriers to trust may exist and overcome them so our research is inclusive and applicable to everyone,” Grill said. Funding for the project was provided by the UCI Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

AAPI Holds Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness CME

“Lifestyle medicine is the simplest yet most powerful approach to true health and healing,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) while setting the context for the Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness Webinar organized on November 19th, 2022. “We understand that well-being is more than the absence of disease. It’s our hope that by attending this very important webinar today, we all will experience the transformative power of using everyday choices and habits to achieve peak performance and well-being.”

Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, AAPI’s CME Chair, while welcoming the nearly 200 AAPI members who attended the webinar, introduced Dr. Koushik Reddy, who is passionate and deeply committed to the idea of health promotion and disease prevention, using lifestyle and nutrition-related tools, and, Dr. Param Dedhia, a dedicated internal and integrative medicine practitioner, who is a board-certified Integrative Medicine Physician, Internal Medicine Doctor, Obesity Medicine Expert, and Sleep Medicine Specialist, who led the discussions today on Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness.

“I Have a Carrot and a Stent, You Pick!,” Dr. Koushik R. Reddy, director of interventional cardiology at the James A Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, FL, challenged a record over 200 Physicians who had joined the webinar on weekend morning.  Dr. Kaushik Reddy emphasized the importance of a fundamental diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle approaches in the primordial and primary prevention of many NCDs that can easily be prevented through simple day-to-day choices.

Dr. Koushik Reddy argued that our healthcare system is really a disease management system, but we still have some agency. He shared with AAPI members several pillars he believes will help each of us have a happy, long healthy life. In his address, he said, he is deeply committed to the idea of health promotion and disease prevention, using lifestyle and nutrition-related tools. It is with this passion and commitment, he boldly challenges his patients with – “I have a carrot and a stent, you pick!”

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Dr. Reddy said Lifestyle medicine-certified clinicians are trained to apply evidence-based, whole-person, prescriptive lifestyle change to treat and, when used intensively, often reverse such conditions. Applying the six pillars of lifestyle medicine—a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connections—also provides effective prevention for these conditions. Dr. Reddy discussed the flaws and opportunities inherent in our healthcare system as it relates to heart health. He spoke about the power of plant-based nutrition and lifestyle medicine, and how he incorporates those principles into his current practice.

Both the quality of life and the quantity of life, are inseparable components of a Good Lifestyle, he said. Pointing to how in 1920, the life expectancy was 42, and in 202o, it has nearly doubled to 78. While the quantity of life has increased tremendously, the quality of life has suffered greatly. “While we are living longer, we are also dying longer due to illnesses.”  Dr. Reddy pointed out that the United States is not among the healthy nations of the world because “We are failing the system.” In his efforts to spread the message, he said, “I am happy to work with AAPI and help spread the message of Lifestyle Medicine beyond AAPI and to back home in India.”

Dr. Reddy, after practicing interventional cardiology for ten years, changed his focus towards cardiovascular health promotion and disease prevention, using lifestyle and nutrition-based strategies. He is a member of the American College of Cardiology’s working group on nutrition and lifestyle and is board certified in Cardiology, Interventional Cardiology, and Lifestyle Medicine. He is closely involved with the department of Whole Health at the Tampa VA hospital. Working in partnership with the local Whole Health leadership, he established two preventive cardiology clinics. “HEAL – Healthy Eating and Living – Introductory Program. CALM – Comprehensive Approach to Lifestyle Medicine – 6 weeks of the multidisciplinary program.”

In his insightful address on “Sleep, The Master Lever Of Health,” Dr. Param Dedhia, who had his education at Johns Hopkins University and Canyon Ranch, which allowed him to bridge eastern and western philosophies, and connect traditional wisdom to modern science, is the Founder & Medical Director of Moveo Health, a personalized health program focused on longevity, shared at length some valuable lessons and words of wisdom on the importance of staying curious and honoring our health.

Referring to Sleep Medicine in the United States as only 40 years old, Dr. Dedhia stressed the importance of sleep in our daily lives and said, “Sleep is about restoring.” He said, “Sleep evolves through adulthood. So, we must evolve our lifestyles to promote sleep. According to him, “Most adults need 7-9 hours” of sleep daily. In his address, he pointed to the function & promise of sleep, which Restores, and Cools the brain and body. It helps regulate ion channels and optimizes physiological growth. Sleep is Anti-Inflammatory, as it helps reduce inflammatory markers. Sleep improves one’s mood, by soothing emotions & mental fatigue.
Sleep is “Actively cardio-protective and Enhances neuro-plasticity.” Another important function of Sleep is to help “Improve memory formation & consolidation.” Sleep “connects us physically, mentally & emotionally” and helps us “Replete energy stores.”

Dr. Dedhia, who continues to pursue his passion and be an advocate for people to live their best lives, quoting scientific studies and evidence-based research, Dr. Dedhia said, “Rx for optimal sleep & health are: (1) Quantity and (2) Quality, which are determined by ‘Daytime Lifestyle’ and ‘Nighttime Sleep,’ by creating ‘Night Time Rituals’ that last a lifetime.”

Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, AAPI CME Chair, said, with the rapidly worsening trends in Chronic Lifestyle Related Non-communicable diseases across the world stemming from modern food and diet practices, inadequate physical activity, poor sleep, worsening stress, poor social relationships, and risky substances abuse – healthcare systems across the world are now inundated with premature and preventable mortality and morbidity from these NCDs. In this context, “Today’s webinar is filled with inspiring and informative talks and presentations by two great speakers that shed the light on the importance of lifestyle interventions as the primary mode of prevention.

In his vote of thanks, Dr, Pankaj Vu, Director of Lifestyle Medicine at Kaiser Permanente, while expressing gratitude to the internationally renowned speakers for their inspiring discussions on Lifestyle Medicine and for AAPI members for being part of this important session said, said, “In support of physician well-being and self-care, such sessions are being offered to the AAPI members, families and friends.”

In his remarks, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI, while referring to the importance of the Webinar, said, “It is well established that evidence-based clinical nutrition and lifestyle practices play a pivotal role in the prevention, treatment, and potential reversal of various common chronic diseases. However, this area of science is underappreciated at all levels of medical education and training. Most medical schools and residency programs do not offer any organized training in nutrition and lifestyle medicine. Given recent data on the rising cost and loss of quality of life secondary to preventable causes, there is an absolute need for a drastic reform of the US medical education system.” Fort more details on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

AAPI Condemns Violence Against Physicians In India AAPI Urges Government to prevent violence and bring to justice those harm Physicians

Chicago, IL: November 29, 2022:  “AAPI is very concerned by the recent and ongoing assaults on Doctors and Medical Professionals in India and joins American Kerala Medical Graduates Association (AKMG ) and Kerala Medical Post Graduates Association in condemning the recent physical assault on a female Doctor at Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College on  November 23rd that was caught on the CCTV,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of American Association of Physicians of India Origin (AAPI) said here today.

The leadership of AAPI, including Drs. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI, Dr. Vishweshwar Ranga, Chair, BOT of AAPI, Dr. Raghu Lolabhattu, Vice Chair, AAPI BOT, Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI, Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Chair, Alumni Committee of AAPI, Dr. Geetha Nair, President of AKMG,  Dr. Nigil Haroon, immediate past President of AKMG, and Dr. Subra Bhat,  past President of AKMG,  and the entire Executive Committee and Board Of Trustees of AAPI, stand in solidarity with our fellow physicians and medical professionals, who are on the front line, work very hard, day and night to serve and take care of patients diligently and dutifully, Dr. Kolli said in a statement issued here.

Quoting media reports last month that pointed to a very grim situation in the state of Punjab in India, Dr. Kolli said, it is shocking to learn of “Recent incidents of physical assaults and misconduct have once again instilled a sense of fear in the mind of on-duty medical staff. As per the data, compiled by the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) Association, over 400 incidents of violence against medical staff, including doctors, have been reported over the past two years.”

Picture : TheUNN

Recalling that from ancient times, physicians across the world have been revered for dedicating their lives for the noble mission of preventing people from getting and saving millions of lives of people from illnesses, Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI said. “We as a community of physicians and individual members of this fraternity have decided to go into the medical profession with the best of intentions. We as physicians want to help people, ease suffering and save lives. Physicians of Indian origin are well known around the world for their compassion, passion for patient care, medical skills, research, and leadership.”

“We strongly urge both the central and state governments to take decisive and drastic actions to curb these anti-social behaviors that endanger doctors serving patients,” Dr. Ranga, BOT Chair of AAPI said.  He agreed with the health experts who “want a multi-pronged approach to prevent such attacks, involving reducing the crowd by strengthening peripheral hospitals, increasing staff and providing better security.”

Dr, Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI said, “These incidents are unfortunate. We urge the federal and the state governments to provide adequate security at all hospitals and healthcare centers.” AAPI supports the petition calling for justice to the Doctor attacked in Thiruvananthapuram, which has gained support from the Kerala Medical Post Graduate Association, who stated that it is unsettling that such attacks occurred in medical campuses, which are supposed to be a secure location, he added.

“AAPI members share their angst as there is not enough support from the state and federal governments and the larger society as the attacks on Medical Professionals in India continue to rise, Dr. Meher Medavaram, Secretary of AAPI said.

Pointing to the trend of increasing violence against the Medical Professionals, and the actions against the perpetrators are disproportionately low, Dr. Sumul Raval, Treasurer of AAPI said, “Medical Professionals cannot provide the best possible health services to the people until there is a safe working environment. Potential fear of violence always looms, especially in the overcrowded Government Hospitals.”

Several aspiring Physicians have expressed concerns following the assault on the female doctor at Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College last week. The attacked female Doctor is quoted to have told Dr. Sulphi N, the Indian Medical Association state president, that she was shocked and regretted her decision to pursue a career as a Doctor and even as a neurosurgeon.

“Despite the noble intentions to save lives and prevent pain and suffering among the patients, Doctors and Medical Professionals continue to put their own lives on the line in the course of their jobs, it is shocking that face such attacks from the very people they are trying to help,” Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Chair, Alumni Committee of AAPI added.

Dr. Raghu Lolabhattu, Vice Chair, AAPI BOT said, “AAPI urges the Government of India and the State Governments across the country to bring to justice those behind the cruel attacks on the physicians who have dedicated lives for serving the sick, especially during the critical Covid pandemic, risking his own life and that of his dear ones.”

“We at AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States urge the Government of India and every state in India to make all the efforts needed to prevent violence against medical professionals and enable them to continue to serve the country with dignity, pride and security. We are shocked by the lack of coherent action against such violence and protect members of this noble fraternity. And we want immediate action against the culprits, who have been carrying on these criminal acts.” For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Senators Sound Alarm On Need To Stop Medicare Physician Pay Cuts

Forty-six US senators have signed a letter to Senate leaders Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mitch McConnell, R- Ky., expressing serious concerns regarding the stability of Medicare payments for physicians and support for bipartisan, long-term payment reform. The “dear colleague” letter, led by Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso, also urges Congress to address the budget-neutrality cuts scheduled to take effect in next year’s Medicare physician payment schedule.

The letter comes on the heels of the release earlier this week of the 2023 Medicare physician payment schedule, which has put “Congress on notice that a nearly 4.5% across-the-board reduction in payment rates is an ominous reality unless lawmakers act before Jan. 1,” according to American Medical association (AMA) President Jack Resneck Jr., MD.

In a statement posted on the AMA website, it stated, although the senators’ letter does not address all of the immediate concerns that doctors nationwide have regarding Medicare physician payment, the AMA welcomed the letter as a sign that pressure is building in the Senate to take the actions needed to protect older adults’ access to physician care.

What the AMA is seeking:

Before the end of 2022, Congress should:

  • Provide relief from the scheduled 4.42% budget-neutrality cut in Medicare physician fee schedule payments.
  • End the statutory annual freeze and provide a Medicare Economic Index update for the coming year.
  • Extend the 5% Advanced Alternative Payment Model participation incentive and halt the impossible-to-meet revenue threshold increase for five years to encourage more physicians to transition from fee-for-service into alternative payment models.
  • Waive the 4% pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) sequester triggered by passage of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The AMA offered detailed comments on the proposed 2023 payment schedule.

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“It was immediately apparent that the 2023 Medicare physician payment rates not only failed to account for inflation in practice costs and COVID-related challenges to practice sustainability but also included the damaging across-the-board reduction,” Dr. Resneck noted. “Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, physician Medicare payments are planned to be cut by nearly 8.5% in 2023—partly from the 4% PAYGO sequester—which would severely impede patient access to care due to the forced closure of physician practices and put further strain on those that remained open during the pandemic.”

In their letter, 46 senators agreed that “Congress must address these vital payment challenges before the end of 2022 to ensure seniors continue to have access to care through a wide network” of physicians and other health professionals.

Senate leaders should work with members of Congress “on a bipartisan basis to address” the physician payment cuts that are imminent. “Going forward,” the letter says, “we support bipartisan, long-term payment reforms to Medicare in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Keep doctors’ doors open

Doctors and other health professionals “across the country are facing significant financial hardship due to higher practice costs and the impacts of COVID-19,” the senators’ letter to Schumer and McConnell notes. “Financial uncertainty due to pending payment cuts will only compound these challenges.”

Action should be taken “in the coming weeks” to ensure that doctors and other health professionals “have the resources they need to keep their doors open for seniors and families,” the letter says.

The AMA strongly supports H.R. 8800, the “Supporting Medicare Providers Act of 2022.” The bipartisan legislation aims to stop the scheduled 4.42% cuts to the Medicare physician pay rate and was introduced by Reps. Ami Bera, MD, a Democrat from California, and Larry Bucshon, MD, an Indiana Republican.

“Failure to act in the coming weeks could result in reduced staffing levels and office closures, jeopardizing patient access to care,” the senators noted. “We are especially concerned about this impact in rural and underserved communities. Failure to act on longer-term reforms will undermine Medicare’s ability to deliver on its promises to future seniors and generations.”

The AMA—in collaboration with 120 other physician and health care organizations—has outlined the essential principles (PDF) that can put the nation’s health care system on sustainable financial ground.

INANY Partners With Coalition For Asian American Children And Families To Address Anti-Asian Hate

A family was shopping at Sam’s Club.  Father and mother and their two children of six and two years.   A man who never saw this family followed them.  He assumed that they came from China.  He found a steak knife somewhere in the store.  He approached the father and made a cut on the father’s face before disappearing from the store.  A little while later, he returned to Sam’s Club with another sharp knife from outside.  He then located the young family and then started attacking the two children who were sitting the basket at the front of the shopping cart.  The six-year-old child was cut on the face. Before he could do anything further, the people around blocked him and handed him to the police.  He confessed to the police that the family came from China and that they were careers of COVID virus.  He also confessed that his intention was to kill the six-year-old child. The incident took place on March 14, 2020.

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On October 3rd, the police arrested a thirty-seven-year-old man for assaulting and robbing fourteen women between the ages of fifty and seventy-two.  The incidents occurred within two months.  All the victims were wearing saris or other Indian clothes.  In one incident, a husband and wife who were walking along the road were approached by the man and asked for directions. He then walked behind the couple and pushed the woman to the ground.  He then turned to the husband and punched his face.  Before running away, he snatched the woman’s necklace.  The woman suffered a broken wrist and husband a fractured nose.  Police say the attacks were motivated by communal hatred.

This past April, the New York Times reported that Sikhs were physically assaulted three times on the same block in a quiet part of Queens, New York.

Thousands of incidents of discrimination on the basis of color, class, race and heritage have been reported.  From March 2020 to March 2022, more than 11400 anti-Asian hate related incidents have been tracked by Coalition for Asian American Pacific Islanders.  There is no statistics of the unreported actual incidents.  These incidents not only destroy the lives of the victims but also traumatize and disrupt their families and relatives. They are creating fear, suspicion and conflict in the community they belong to. It makes you feel out of place in society. Many feel marginalized.  The right of the victimized individuals, of their loved ones and of the people in the community they belong to boldly, freely and safely go out is eroding.

Since the beginning of immigration, Asian Americans have been subject to struggles for equality, social inclusion, and recognition.  Suspicion, fear and loathing of strangers, which Asians have been experiencing from time to time, have reached a peak in recent years, especially with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Discrimination through words, behavior, and pretending to be invisible is common, as is physical and psychological abuse. Hate killing is on the rise in our society.

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Such incidents of xenophobia and intolerance, which are so frequent as to damage the values and integrity of the community itself, should be seen as a call for concerted and strong efforts by the affected Asian American communities.  Many of those who witness heinous violence and discrimination want to help or stop the victims, but are rendered helpless by their own insecurities.  Hate violence doesn’t happen at a specific place or time. The trend suggests that we are all increasingly vulnerable to discrimination and hatred. As with the possibility of witnessing events.

US Census Bureau and US Department of Labor group Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Pakistan and people from other South and South East Asian countries, and people from the Pacific Islands are counted as a single racial group.  This demographic group, known as Asian American Pacific Islanders, is led by Chinese (5.1 million), Indians (4.5 million) and Filipinos (4.1), according to the last count. In New York state, the Asian Pacific Islander community of 2.5 million is considered the fastest growing community in the state.

Asians are seen as a model minority because of the community’s perceived higher degree of socioeconomic success than the other communities.  The ironic truth is that this cosmetic stereotype blankets the underserved struggling individuals and families in the community.

Coalition of Asian American Children and Families is a collaborative organization that advocates for social equity and justice and equal rights for educational opportunities for families and children. The Indian Nurses Association of New York (INANI), the voice of Indian nurses in New York state, is partnering with this organization to address anti-Asian hate.  It is currently engaged, among other goals, in raising awareness in the community and equip individuals with skills to prevent violence without compromising their own safety.

The strategy, known as Bystander intervention uses 5D methods to develop the awareness, skills and courage needed to intervene in a situation when another individual is in need of help.  INANY intends to use community forums and small groups as appropriate platforms and fulfills its mission through them.   Dr. Anna George, an associate professor at Molloy University and president of INANY noted that ECHO for Help, a prominent volunteer and charity organization based in Long Island offered the first forum for INANY to provide the training.   Dr. Anna George and Dr. Ani Jacob, a Nurse Scientist at Northwell Health System presented for the first time at the ECHO for Help.

Dr. George expressed her gratitude Sabu Lukos and Raju Abraham of ECHO for their unconditional welcome and support for making unity and acceptance a path to compassion.  The next presentation against anti-Asian hatred will be at INANY’s general body meeting on November 19 at Dilbar Restaurant in Floral Park in Queens, Dr. George indicated.  America’s first Indian Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Director of New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation Dr. Solymol Kuruvila and Paul D Panakal will be speaking on the 19th of November.

In A First, Doctors Treat Fatal Genetic Disease Before Birth

A toddler is thriving after doctors in the U.S. and Canada used a novel technique to treat her before she was born for a rare genetic disease that caused the deaths of two of her sisters.

Ayla Bashir, a 16-month-old from Ottawa, Ontario, is the first child treated as fetus for Pompe disease, an inherited and often fatal disorder in which the body fails to make some or all of a crucial protein.

Today, she’s an active, happy girl who has met her developmental milestones, according to her father, Zahid Bashir and mother, Sobia Qureshi.

“She’s just a regular little 1½-year-old who keeps us on our toes,” Bashir said. The couple previously lost two daughters, Zara, 2½, and Sara, 8 months, to the disease. A third pregnancy was terminated because of the disorder.

In a case study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors describe an international collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the treatment that may have saved Ayla’s life – and expanded the field of potential fetal therapies. The outlook for Ayla is promising but uncertain.

“It holds a glimmer of hope for being able to treat them in utero instead of waiting until damage is already well-established,” said Dr. Karen Fung-Kee-Fung, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at The Ottawa Hospital who gave the treatment and delivered Ayla.

Fung-Kee-Fung was following a new treatment plan developed by Dr. Tippi MacKenzie, a pediatric surgeon and co-director of the Center for Maternal-Fetal Precision Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who shared her research after the pandemic prevented Ayla’s mother from traveling for care. “We were all motivated to make this happen for this family,” MacKenzie said.

Doctors have treated fetuses before birth for three decades, often with surgeries to repair birth defects such as spina bifida. And they’ve given blood transfusions to fetuses through the umbilical cord, but not medicines. In this case, the crucial enzymes were delivered through a needle inserted through the mother’s abdomen and guided into a vein in the umbilical cord. Ayla received six biweekly infusions that started at about 24 weeks of gestation.

“The innovation here wasn’t the drug and it wasn’t accessing the fetal circulation,” said Dr. Pranesh Chakraborty, a metabolic geneticist at Childrens Hospital of Eastern Ontario, who has cared for Ayla’s family for years. “The innovation was treating earlier and treating while still in utero.”

The unusual partnership also involved experts at Duke University in Durham, N.C., which has led research on Pompe disease, and University of Washington in Seattle.

Babies with Pompe disease are often treated soon after birth with replacement enzymes to slow devastating effects of the condition, which affects fewer than 1 in 100,000 newborns. It is caused by mutations in a gene that makes an enzyme that breaks down glycogen, or stored sugar, in cells. When that enzyme is reduced or eliminated, glycogen builds up dangerously throughout the body.

Picture : Health News,Florida

In addition, the most severely affected babies, including Ayla, have an immune condition in which their bodies block the infused enzymes, eventually stopping the therapy from working. The hope is that Ayla’s early treatment will reduce the severity of that immune response.

Babies with Pompe disease have trouble feeding, muscle weakness, floppiness and, often, grossly enlarged hearts. Untreated, most die from heart or breathing problems in the first year of life.

In late 2020, Bashir and Qureshi had learned they were expecting Ayla and that prenatal tests showed she, too, had Pompe disease.

“It was very, very scary,” recalled Qureshi. In addition to the girls who died, the couple have a son, Hamza, 13, and a daughter, Maha, 5, who are not affected.

Both parents carry a recessive gene for Pompe disease, which means there’s a 1 in 4 chance that a baby will inherit the condition. Bashir said their decision to proceed with additional pregnancies was guided by their Muslim faith.

“We believe that what will come our way is part of what’s meant or destined for us,” he said. They have no plans for more children, they said.

Chakraborty had learned of MacKenzie’s early stage trial to test the enzyme therapy and thought early treatment might be a solution for the family.

The treatment could be “potentially very significant,” said Dr. Brendan Lanpher, a medical geneticist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who was not involved in the research.

“This is a progressive disease that builds up over time, so every day a fetus or baby has it, they’re accumulating more of the material that affects muscle cells.”

Still, it’s too early to know whether the protocol will become accepted treatment, said Dr. Christina Lam, interim medical director of biochemical genetics at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle.

“It’s going to take some time to really be able to establish the evidence to definitively show that the outcomes are better,” she said.

Which Exercise Burns the Most Calories?

Your time is precious — and limited. So when it comes to working out, it’s not uncommon to wonder: what exercise burns the most calories?

Exercise scientists have rigorously studied the amount of energy people expend during different types of exercise, and they’ve determined which workouts are best for burning calories. The thing to keep in mind: the more muscles you engage and the harder (and longer) you push those muscles, the more energy your body will churn through, says Dr. Tim Church, an exercise researcher and a professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. So in order to maximize the number of calories you’ll burn, “you want an exercise that uses both lower and upper body muscle groups and is performed at a high intensity,” Church says.

Picture : Stylist

A study on one popular CrossFit workout called the “Cindy” — in which a person does a series of pull-ups, push-ups and squats in as many rounds as possible — found that it burned an average of 13 calories per minute. The workout lasts 20 minutes, so exercisers burned an average of 260 calories in total. While perfect apples-to-apples studies aren’t available, some Tabata research has shown that one of these workouts — composed of 4-minute training blocks that mix maximum-intensity bouts of resistance and aerobic training with short periods of rest — burns 14.5 calories per minute, or 280 calories during a 20-minute workout.

These per-minute calorie averages beat out many traditional forms of exercise. “But there’s such a variety within these classes and the people doing them that scores are all over the map,” says John Porcari, author of the Tabata study and a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. For example, some people in his Tabata study burned up to 360 calories during the 20-minute workout, or 18 calories per minute.

Yet “per-minute” calorie burn isn’t always the best way to assess a workout’s energy demands, Porcari says. The total time spent training and a person’s willingness to stick with a workout are also important factors. “You can crank like the dickens for 30 seconds and burn a lot of calories,” he says. So if you’re extremely short on time, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is probably your best option. But in the real world, Porcari says, many people won’t be comfortable (or capable of) engaging in regular or extended bouts of high-intensity training.

He says a “more fair” way to assess an exercise’s true energy demands is to ask people to do it at a pace that is comfortable for them. And when it comes to vigorous, calorie-burning exercises that people are comfortable doing for extended periods of time, running usually comes out on top. “When you look at the literature, running tends to burn more calories than other modalities,” he says.

According to an online calorie estimator from the American Council on Exercise, a 115-pound person running for 30 minutes at a slow-to-moderate pace (a 10-minute mile) would burn about 260 calories: the same amount people who did CrossFit typically torched in 20 minutes, according to the research. A 175-pound person would burn nearly 400 calories during that same 30-minute run. Pick up the pace, and you can achieve an even greater rate of calorie burn.

You may be wondering whether more intense forms of exercise lead to a higher rate of calorie expenditure even after training is finished — or a so-called “afterburn effect.” Research from Colorado State University has shown that, yes, intense exercise does keep a person’s metabolism humming longer than mild exercise. But this afterburn effect tends to peter out quickly — within a few hours — and it accounts for a small fraction of the total calories a person expends during and after exercise.

Also, a workout’s length — not just its intensity — helps to keep a person’s metabolism elevated after training, finds a review from the University of New Mexico. So if your goal is to burn the maximum amount of energy, you’ll want to find an exercise that is vigorous and that you can stick with for a long stretch of time.

For a lot of people, that mode is running. For others, it may be fast stationary cycling or Tabata or using an elliptical. The research suggests all are more or less comparable if you’re able to put in the time and keep up the intensity.

The bottom line? The best workout for burning calories is “the one you actually do,” Church says. You can find extreme forms of exercise that maximize per-minute calorie burn. But if you don’t stick with them or do them regularly, they’re not much good to you.

Mindfulness Works As Well As An Anxiety Drug

Mindfulness meditation worked as well as a standard drug for treating anxiety in the first head-to-head comparison.

The study tested a widely used mindfulness program that includes 2 1/2 hours of classes weekly and 45 minutes of daily practice at home. Participants were randomly assigned to the program or daily use of a generic drug sold under the brand name Lexapro for depression and anxiety.

After two months, anxiety as measured on a severity scale declined by about 30% in both groups and continued to decrease during the following four months.

Study results, published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, are timely. In September, an influential U.S. health task force recommended routine anxiety screening for adults, and numerous reports suggest global anxiety rates have increased recently, related to worries over the pandemic, political and racial unrest, climate change and financial uncertainties.

Picture : ABC News

Anxiety disorders include social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and panic attacks. Affected people are troubled by persistent and intrusive worries that interfere with their lives and relationships. In the U.S., anxiety disorders affect 40% of U.S. women at some point in their lives and more than 1 in 4 men, according to data cited in U.S. Preventive Services Task Force screening recommendations.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that emphasizes focusing only on what’s happening at the moment and dismissing intrusive thoughts. Sessions often start with breathing exercises. Next might be “body scans” — thinking about each body part systematically, head to toe. When worried thoughts intrude, participants learn to briefly acknowledge them but then dismiss them.

Instead of ruminating over the troubling thought, “you say, ‘I’m having this thought, let that go for now,’’’ said lead author Elizabeth Hoge, director of Georgetown University’s Anxiety Disorders Research Program. With practice, “It changes the relationship people have with their own thoughts when not meditating.”

Previous studies have shown mindfulness works better than no treatment or at least as well as education or more formal behavior therapy in reducing anxiety, depression and other mental woes. But this is the first study to test it against a psychiatric drug, Hoge said, and the results could make insurers more likely to cover costs, which can run $300 to $500 for an 8-week session.

The results were based on about 200 adults who completed the six-month study at medical centers in Washington, Boston and New York. Researchers used a psychiatric scale of 1 to 7, with the top number reflecting severe anxiety. The average score was about 4.5 for participants before starting treatment. It dropped to about 3 after two months, then dipped slightly in both groups at three months and six months. Hoge said the change was clinically meaningful, resulting in noticeable improvement in symptoms.

Ten patients on the drug dropped out because of troublesome side effects possibly related to treatment, which included insomnia, nausea and fatigue. There were no dropouts for that reason in the mindfulness group, although 13 patients reported increased anxiety.

Dr. Scott Krakower, a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, said mindfulness treatments often work best for mildly anxious patients. He prescribes them with medication for patients with more severe anxiety.

He noted that many people feel they don’t have time for mindfulness meditation, especially in-person sessions like those studied. Whether similar results would be found with online training or phone apps is unknown, said Krakower, who was not involved in the study.

Olga Cannistraro, a freelance writer in Keene, New Hampshire, participated in an earlier mindfulness study led by Hoge and says it taught her “to intervene in my own state of mind.’’

During a session, just acknowledging that she was feeling tension anywhere in her body helped calm her, she said.

Cannistraro, 52, has generalized anxiety disorder and has never taken medication for it. She was a single mom working in sales during that earlier study—circumstances that made life particularly stressful, she said. She has since married, switched jobs, and feels less anxious though still uses mindfulness techniques.

Ayurveda, The New Mantra For The World

Ayurveda, the science of life has brought true health and wellness to millions of individuals throughout the ages with simple changes in daily living practices.
This ancient art of healing has been practiced continuously for over 5,000 years. Ayurvedic practices restore the balance and harmony of the individual, resulting in self-healing, good health and longevity. Incorporating just a few of these proven methods into your lifestyle can bring about radical changes in your life.

The principles of many natural healing systems now familiar in the West, such as Homeopathy and Polarity Therapy, have their roots in Ayurveda. The understanding that we are all unique individuals enables Ayurveda to address not only specific health concerns but also offers explanation as to why one person responds differently th an another.

Ayurveda uses herbs and spices like basil, turmeric, garlic, ginger and aloe vera, as well as yoga exercises, to treat physical and psychological problems.

Interest in Ayurveda in the United States began in the 1970’s, largely as the result of efforts by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi organization of Transcendental Meditation. Interest continued to grow as Indian physicians came to the United States in the 1980’s. Among these physicians were Dr. Vasant Lad, Dr. Sunil Joshi and Dr. B.D. Triguna.

In the late 1980’s Dr. Deepak Chopra wrote “Perfect Health”, his famous introductory book on Ayurveda for the general public. This opened the door of India ‘s ancient healing science for many Westerners. Furthermore, several American pioneers helped attract attention to Ayurveda and influence its growth.

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They include Dr. David Frawley, of the American Institute of Vedic Studies, and Dr. Robert Svoboda, a Westerner who completed India ‘s BAMS program. As interest and awareness grew, training programs of various degrees emerged. In 1995, the California College of Ayurveda was founded and was the first State-approved practitioner training program in the United States .
The National Ayurvedic Medical Association is the major body in the United States representing the Ayurvedic profession. A non-profit association, it was founded in 1998 by four individuals: Dr. Marc Halpern, of the California College of Ayurveda, Wynn Werner, of the Ayurvedic Institute, Kumar Batra, and Cynthia Copple. Indians trained Ayurvedic physicians who come to the United States on a work visa or through immigration may practice Ayurveda within a allowable scope.

The interest in Ayurveda has grown steadilynin the past few decades, and many more people from across the world are seeking Ayurveda treatment in India and in the many facilities where they are being ofered. For too many, who have been “given up” by the Western medicine, the first choice of treatment, Ayurveda offers an “alternate” and several hundreds seek and find solutiomns to their physical and mental illnesses.

In December 2000, I was diagnosed with Uveitis with Vasculitis and peripheral neovascularization. After being treated with Prednisone, a steroid, upto 100 mg per day, though my vision had improved, it had inflicted several side-effects on my entire physical as well as mental health.

Later on, after several surgeries that included a cataract, laser-surgeries, and Vitrectomy, I decided to seek ayurvedic treatment at Sreedhareeyam Ayureda Gaveshana Kendram, an endeavor by Nellikattu Mana, a Namboodiri family with traditional experiences and talents in Ayurveda treatment especially in the treatment of eye diseases.

After undergoing a full three weeks of treatment for four times in two years at Sreedhareeyam, my vision had showed signs of improvement. The inflammation on the retina was substantially reduced and the damage to the optic nerve was contained, which I thought, was the biggest achievement of the treatment I received at Sreedhareeyam. The cataract on my left eye was healed without a surgery, although the pressure on my right remained elevated. Medical Superintendent at Sreedhareeyam, Dr. N P P Namboothiri, a famous eye physician and the mentor and guide to the hospital, helped me “restore” my vision. .

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At Sreedhareeyam, where more than two dozen trained eye-specialists with degrees in Medicine, the primary focus has been on Ayurvedic treatments for all types of diseases.
However, specialized treatments are given for the various diseases affecting the positions above the neck. Most of the eye diseases, which have got no treatment in modern medicine, have been successfully treated here. People come here from all strata of society and from all corners of the world.

Most of the patients here at this nearly 200-bed hospital are those who have tried the regular Western medicines and have been given up as having no cure for their problems. Just like me, most of them choose to come here as the final resort, and hope that Sreedhareeyam is the answer to many of their eye diseases.

Aravind Kumar, a college student in Delaware, told this writer, “I was born with congenital cataracts in both eyes.” After six major eye operations that included surgeries to remove cataract as well as intra-ocular-lens implantation, he was was left with limited eyesight of about sixteen inches. “It was during the summer of 2003 that we made our first visit to India in several years, when we learned more about Ayurveda treatments specific to eyes and vision at Sreedhareeyam,” Aravinf recalls.

In November of 2004, his first ever treatments began. “A few days into the treatment, my first eye refraction exam was done. From five feet I was able to see three lines of text clearly. After ten more days a second eye refraction was done. This time, from six feet I could read almost five lines of text. I was amazed that, through Ayurveda and Sreedhareeyam, I was able to see more things far away,” this young boy from Allen Ttown, PA narrates. “My local Ophthalmologist in the US, who is renowned in the field of ophthalmology, was amazed to see the improvement in my vision.”

Restoring vision from birth defects is not a quick-fix. It takes time. Since 2004, he had gone back to Sreedhareeyam for five courses of treatments, each for a period of three to four weeks. “During each visit I have undergone treatments like Nasyam, Netra Dhara, Sirodhara, Pothichil, Tharpanam, etc.,” said Aravind, who went to Sreedhareeyam in Janauary 2008 for yet another phase of his treatment.

“I am experiencing dramatic results. Prior to the treatment, my peripheral vision was very poor and I had a tough time focusing. Now my peripheral vision is much better and I’m able to focus better. This has helped me immensely in my school work and day-to-day life. My astigmatism has been reduced, I am able to concentrate more than I used to and I can see things a little bit farther than I used to. My visits also gave me an opportunity to meet and talk to several visually under-previleged from across the globe, who come there with the hope for better vision. Most of them being tried and rejected by modern medicine.” Aravind tesxtifies, “Sreedhareeyam is truly the Ayurvedic hospital and they definitely live up to their motto of “vision for all”

Jayachandran, a 43-year-old male, originally from Bangalore, now living in Japan, told this writer, “I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare hereditary disorder, which causes poor night vision and ever-narrowing field of vision beginning in childhood.”

About 12 years ago, he lost his vision completely and was declared blind. After being treated around the world for several years with no positive results, he heard about Sreedhareeyam, and came here about two years ago. “It’s my fifth visit in two years. I am beginning to see for the first time in 12 years,” Jayachandran said with a sense of joy and satisfaction. “The doctors here have been able to arrest the process of degeneration, and they have assured me that I can regain about 10 to 20 percent of my vision, which is great.”

Simran, 10 and Sonal, 12, two sisters from Sydney, Australia, were here for treatment for Retinitis Pigmentosa. Online search for treatment for this rare eye disease by their desperate parents brought them here at Sreedhareeyam. After four visits with a gap of three months between each visit, now the doctors at Sreedhareeyam have advised them to return to Sreedhareeyam after two years.

There was a sense of relief and inner joy on the face of the Mr. V. Goyal, the father of these two young kids, realizing that the process of degeneration has been arrested and their vision will be stable.
Ella Murugan is a 20-year-old boy from Salem, Tamil Nadu. He was diagnosed with Retinal Detachment, and was treated at the famous Sankara Netralaya in Chennai for more than three years. “After each surgery done on my eyes at Sankara Nethralaya, I began to lose my vision, and I became totally blind,” he said. “This is my fourth visit in less than two years, and now my eyes can see things and people around me, as though they are shadows.” He expressed confidence that in the near future, he will begin to see more clearly.

The story of Abdul, a 10-year-old boy from northern Kerala was heart-breaking. While playing with his friends, a sharp wooden stick pierced through his right eye, severely damaging his retina and the optic nerves, resulting in severe bleeding of the retina, thus leading to the loss of vision.
In December 2005, he was at Sreedhareeyam for his third hospitalization in 15 months. “Also, his bleeding on the retina has been contained,” his mother told this writer. “He has begun to see partially,” she added.

These are only a few of the hundreds of success stories one gets to witness during the stay from patients who come here for various eye diseases. “Results from the treatment here are the only publicity we do,” said, Narendran, Executive Director of Sreedhareeyam. “Our ever-increasing number of patients is a witness to the impact of the treatment patients receive here. Our publicity is by word-of-mouth only of these success stories.”

There have been a number of instances at Sreedhareeyam where success was found while it was only failure that the patients met with in other systems of medicine. According to Dr. N P P Namboodiri, its all miracles in the sense that all these helped manifest the capabilities of Ayurveda in an area of health care that needs specialization. A large number of such cases from the long history of the hospital stand testimony to the supremacy of Ayurveda system of medicine over other systems in treatment of eye diseases.

“At Sreedhareeyam, ours is a humble attempt to treat the disease and annihilate it through the way of nature,” says Dr. Narayanan Namboothiri, who treats patients from the same room in Naalukettu, where he was born. “Patients from all over the world come here for various eye diseases, including those suffering from Cataract, Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration, and Diabetic Retinopathy. We strive to give them our best, trusting in God’s power to heal them,” the gentle-speaking Dr. Narayanan Namboothiri says.

“At Sreedhareeyam, we strive to maintain and cultivate the hospital into a shrine of hope for hundreds of people who seeks cure from their various and mysterious ailments.
Fortunately, due to our long history of successes, we have an astounding number of patients coming in daily from the length and breadth of the country, seeking cure,” Dr. Namboodiri says.

“In the field of the treatment of eye diseases, we desire to rank ourselves from an international perspective. The history of the miraculous cures at Sreedhareeyam and our eminent panel of doctors proclaim our supremacy in this field. With all our expertise and resources, we foresee a wider dimension for our services to the society in the future,” the physician says with a sense of pride and hope. In the wake of the prevailing situation, Sreedhareeyam, according to Dr. Namboothiri, “aspires for a wider participation on a large scale in the battle to annihilate darkness of human eye from the face of earth.

All the treatments offered here are unique in the sense that the medicines used for all these treatments are produced at the Manufacturing Unit of the hospital. “The ingredients of the medicine as well as the treatment procedures are all according to those parchments (‘thaliyolas’) and ancient books (‘grandhas’), which counts among the traditional and precious assets owned by the Mana,” Dr. Narayanan Namboothiri, the young and dynamic physician, who heads the research unit of the hospital, says.

The research centre is studying several manuscripts on ayurveda, found all over the State and putting them in order. Medicines are grown in the Koothattukulam campus, where the ancestral home of the vaidyas. Medicines are also manufactured here under the supervision of Narayanan Namboothiri, the Chief Medical Officer of the hospital.
Experts predict that hundreds of herbs used for centuries by traditional healers in India could soon be on western pharmacy shelves. With 15,000 plant species, India is well placed to increase its share of the $75billion global market in medicinal plants, which is growing by at least 7% a year.

The Indian Council of Medical Research has launched a series of studies to test the health claims surrounding a variety traditional medicines. Clinical trials have shown that herbal remedies for asthma, diabetes and even sexually transmitted diseases may be effective. The council is looking at treatments for a range of other conditions used for over a thousand years by practitioners of Ayurveda and Siddha medicine.

Professor Ranjit Roy Chaudhury, a member of the council, said that in some cases the herbs may be more effective than Western-style medicines. “We have plants for bronchial asthma, hepatitis and arthritis,” he said. “We have other plants which have been shown to be effective for treating sexually transmitted diseases and they have been used in that way by tribal populations for centuries. We have herbs where you can relieve headache, fever, gastroenteritis, sneezing and coughing. These conditions can easily be alleviated.”

Professor Chaudhury acknowledged that in some cases the council will be unable to prove that the herbs work. This is because many of the remedies are based on a combination of plants which taken on their own would not be effective. “There are hundreds of herbs but we are unable at the moment to do very good testing for combinations of plants. “In the Ayurvedic system they use usually combinations. But testing combinations with modern technology is difficult.”

The world as a whole is switching over from chemical drugs to natural drugs because they are non-narcotic, they have no side-effects and are easily available. The world is interested in simpler and gentler therapies – especially for ageing, the problem of obesity, diabetes, neurological disorders, cardiac diseases and digestive problems.

Even as the ancient ayurveda science is becoming increasingly popular, it has encountered several hurdles too. Lack of funding for research has limited its growth and wider use. However, utilizing the available on going research, basing them on the ancient wisdom of the Rishis and Munis, and availing the few encouraging measures from the government of India,

The Ayurvedic profession is growing steadily in the United States of America, just as is in and around the world. Educational institutions are becoming more established and the Associations are working to give the profession a voice and address regulation issues. Ayurveda is likely to continue to grow in America and take its place among the other licensed health care professions.

AAPI’s 16th Annual Global Healthcare Summit 2023 In Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh

GHS and Pre-GHS/CME Family Tour to Vietnam, Cambodia and Kuala Lumpur Registration is Open and Filling up fast

Chicago, IL, November 8th, 2022 : “The registration for AAPI’s 16th annual Global Healthcare Summit 2023 at the at the prestigious Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach, Andhra Pradesh, India from January 6th to 8th, 2022 and the Pre-GHS/CME tour to  exotic destinations, Vietnam, Cambodia and Kuala Lumpur is filling up fast,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) announced here today. “Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will meet and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We look forward to seeing you in Visakhapatnam!” said Dr. Ravi Kolli

The GHS 2023 by AAPI is being organized in collaboration with Andhra Medical College Alumni Association, Andhra Medical College, Indian Medical Association, AP, Association of Telugu Medical Graduates in the USA and Rangaraya Medical College Alumni Association and the Government of the State of Andhra Pradesh.

While elaborating on the themes and areas that are going to be covered during the Summit, Dr. V. Ranga, Chair of AAPI BOT, says, “The GHS 2023 will focus on Mental Health and Physician Burnout, Rural Health Initiatives, Infant and Maternal Health issues as well as Medical Jeopardy, Research Poster presentations by medical students.”

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Dr. Prasad Chalasani, Chair of AAPI GHS-USA says, “With hundreds of physicians from the United States, the Summit is expected to be attended by nearly 400 delegates from around the world. AAPI Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) will have many new initiatives and also will be carrying the torch of ongoing projects undertaken by AAPI’s past leaders.”

Many of the physicians who will attend this convention have excelled in different specialties and subspecialties and occupy high positions as faculty members of medical schools, heads of departments, and executives of hospitals and pharma companies. “The AAPI GHS offers an opportunity to meet directly with these physicians who are leaders in their fields and play an integral part in the decision-making process regarding new products and services,” Dr. Anajan Sammader, President-Elect of AAPI said.

The preliminary program is in place, the major attractions include 12 hours of cutting-edge CME with renowned speakers, CEO Forum, Innovation Forum, Entrepreneur Forum, Women’s Forum, Product Theaters to highlight the newest advances in patient care and medical  technology. Alumni meetings for networking, also an AAPI-India Strategic Engagement Forum to showcase the AAPI initiatives in India, TB Eradication in India and recognition of AAPI Award winners will make this Summit unique,” Dr. Ravi Raju, Chair of GHS-India said.

In addition to offering over 10 hours of cutting-edge CMEs to the physicians, the event will have product theaters/promotional opportunities, plenary sessions, multi-segment CEOs Forum, women’s leadership forum. The convention will be addressed by senior world leaders, including celebrities from the entertainment world, said Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, Chief Advisor of the GHS 2023.

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Dr. Kolli expressed gratitude to all the Chairs and members of various Committees who are working hard to put together a great Summit and to enable members to return home with memories that will last a life time.

According to CME Chair Dr. Sreeni Gangasani and Academic Chair Dr. Sharma Prabhakar, some of the topics for the CMEs will include Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics, Oncology.  “In our efforts to realize the core mission of AAPI, which is to share the best from leading experts from around the world, to collaborate on clinical challenges, the GHS in Visakhapatnam will have clinical tracks that are of vital to healthcare in India,” Dr. Ganagasani said.

Dr. Lokesh Edara and Dr. Brahma Sharma, who are the co-chairs of International medical education will conduct a high-powered panel discussion by International Medical Education experts including CEOs of ECFMG, WFMC, and National Medical Council officials. Dr. B K Kishore, an academic expert will lead discussions on research methodology and scientific writings.

Dr. Sampath Shivangi, AAPI Legislative Committee Chair said, “We are collaborating with senior leaders from leading healthcare organizations including pharmaceuticals, device and medical equipment manufacturers and major medical teaching institutions, hospitals and the Ministries of Health, External/Overseas Affairs and regulatory bodies to attend and coordinate with AAPI with an ultimate goal to providing accessible and affordable high-quality healthcare to all people of India.”

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Dr. Manoj Jain, Chair of CETI – Collaboration to Eliminate TB in India supported by CDC and USAID will discuss their ongoing long-term TB Elimination Projects in India. CEO Forum Chair Dr. Joseph Chalil said, “We will have discussions on Equity, Ethics and Physician Burnout Issues.” The Women’s Forum chair Dr. Udaya Shivangi announced that “there will be meaningful discussions and policy statements on gender bias and its impact on leadership.”

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI, says, “It is these learning opportunities and collaborative relationships that have now enabled AAPI and participating organizations to plan and prepare for an outstanding event that is expected to have over 300 prominent and experienced physicians and surgeons of Indian origin from around the world, who are very passionate about serving their homeland, Mother India.”

Dr. Meher Medavaram, Secretary of AAPI says, “Being organized at this critical phase, especially as the world is emerging out of the Covid pandemic, GHS 2023 is aimed at exploring 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.”

“Harnessing the power of Indian Doctors worldwide, the AAPI Global Healthcare Summit platform has evolved with the support of prominent global and Indian medical associations . AAPI’s mission is to make a positive and meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India,.” Dr. Sumul Rawal, Treasurer of AAPI pointed out.

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Healthcare in India is one of the largest sectors, in terms of revenue and employment. India is making significant improvements in its healthcare infrastructure and is building modern medical facilities throughout India. Indian doctors have made tremendous progress in the 21st century and India is now being touted as a medical tourism hub. With hundreds of physicians joining from the United States, the summit is expected to be attended by three hundred delegates from around the world. AAPI Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) will have many new initiatives and will be carrying the torch of ongoing projects undertaken by AAPI’s past leaders.

The Global Healthcare Summit has come a long way from the first Indo-US Healthcare Summit launched by AAPI USA in 2007. Since then, AAPI has organized 15 Indo – US/Global Healthcare Summits and developed strategic alliances with various organizations.

AAPI is hopeful that several international healthcare industry partners are looking for opportunities to participate at this event for greater collaboration on Research & Development and philanthropic engagements. Dr. Kolli added.

Representing the interests of the over 120,000 physicians of Indian origin, leaders of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians, for 40 years, AAPI Convention has provided a venue for medical education programs and symposia with world renowned physicians on the cutting edge of medicine.

“Physicians and policy makers, legislators and entrepreneurs will brainstorm at the GHS to find meaningful, impactful, actionable plans and solutions to make health care accessible, affordable, and equitable to all segments and regions of the populations, as health and wellness are fundamental and foundational to individuals and societies to progress and development. Healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will take part in the exchange of knowledge of medical advances and to develop health policy agendas. We look forward to seeing you in Visakhapatnam!” said Dr. Ravi Kolli. For more details, please visit: www.aapiusa.org/  To register for the Global Healthcare Summit 2023, please visit: https://summit.aapiusa.org

 

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Miss World 2021 Runner-Up Shree Saini Implanted With New Pacemaker

Pacemakers are usually given to those who have lived a long life and now their heart needs an extra assistance. For me, I was born with a heart defect,” Shree, 26, wrote.

Indian-American model Shree Saini, who was declared the first runner-up at the Miss World 2021 pageant, recently revealed that she is undergoing heart surgery for a new pacemaker implant as her “current pacemaker batteries have died”. A heart patient, Shree, who got a pacemaker at the age of 12, went on to share that she has to “undergo a total of eight pacemaker replacement surgeries” in her lifetime.

“I would so greatly appreciate your prayers. There will be no visitors allowed at the hospital. I want to thank everyone who has been there for me. For those who may not know, I was born with a complete heart block, where my upper and bottom chambers did not communicate with each other. My block led me to me having a very low heart rate and feel terribly fatigued,” she mentioned in a note on Instagram.

“The pacemaker paces my heart to beat at a normal rate. It does this by using the pacemaker to send electric shocks to my heart which allows it to beat at a normal rate. Average age of a pacemaker recipient is age 80. Pacemakers are usually given to those who have lived a long life and now their heart needs an extra assistance. For me, I was born with a heart defect,” Shree, now 26, penned.

Adding that she is sharing her story to “encourage people to have a greater sense of hope even in their hardships”, she wrote, “Let’s rise up from our challenges with a victor, not a victim mindset.”

Picture: Beauty Pageant

Shree, who was also adjudged Ambassador Beauty With Purpose at the 2021 Miss World, thanked her well-wishers for their constant support. “I still remember being a kid and being so confused, scared while waiting for my initial surgery. I do remember the teachers and peers who were there for me. I will forever be grateful for people who cared, reached out with comforting words and whose love filled me with strength. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I am the sum of God’s blessings, parents’ unconditional love and the blessings of so many people. So grateful for scientists, doctors for creating this remarkable pacemaker technology, that literally allows me to live today!”

About the size of a pocket watch, artificial pacemakers are implanted under the skin through an incision in the chest. The device is connected to the heart through leads or wires that deliver electrical signals that regulate the heart’s activity. “Pacemakers are small machines placed to generate heart beats. When your heart beats slows down to less than 50-60 beats, with or without heart conduction tissue, it indicates damage to your heart’s wiring system, or in cases of heart failure where a patient’s heart do not beat in tandem to produce a good pulse or output, then the doctor recommends these small machines to improve the quality of life, said Dr Bipeenchandra Bhamre, consultant cardiac surgeon, Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai, adding that ECG and Holter monitoring tests help to determine the need of pacemakers.

According to the expert, two types of machines are widely used — single chamber and dual chamber — depending on the number of heart chambers affected. “Periodic check up, every year, is required to check for battery. Your doctor will recommend the type of machine better for you,” he said.

Dr Pankaj Batra, senior interventional cardiologist, Fortis Escorts Faridabad, told indianexpress.com that the PPI or Permanent Pacemaker Implantation procedure takes about an hour to be completed. “Permanent pacemaker insertion is considered a minimally invasive procedure. Transvenous access to the heart chambers under local anesthesia is the favored technique. It is not a surgery,” said Dr Batra, adding that “in case of congenital heart defects, pacemakers may be preferred for a long life.”

A National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) review also suggested that the primary purpose of such a device is to maintain an adequate heart rate, either because the heart’s natural pacemaker is not fast enough, or there is a block in the heart’s electrical conduction system. “Modern pacemakers are externally programmable and allow the cardiologist to select the optimum pacing modes for patients on a case-to-case basis,” explained Dr Batra and further said that replacement is usually done after 10 to 15 years using a “minor procedure”.

While pacemakers can be temporary in cases of a heart attack, permanent pacemakers are used to control long-term heart issues. “Pacemaker can relieve some arrhythmia symptoms, such as fatigue and fainting. A pacemaker also can help a person who has abnormal heart rhythms resume a more active lifestyle,” mentioned the NCBI review. Agreed Dr Batra and mentioned that pacemakers are needed to “improve the quality of life”, and with minimal heart-related issues. (Courtesy: The Indian Express)

Rise In Demand For India-Trained Nurses After Pandemic

A FICCI report says nursing is becoming less desirable as a profession and is witnessing increased migration to foreign countries, which has left India facing one of its worst shortages of nursing staff in recent years 

Following a lull over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, government data now indicates a continued sharp rise in the demand for nurses trained in India from several countries, including Ireland, Malta, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, the U.K. (Wales), and Belgium. 

India ranks second after the Philippines in the number of nurses working overseas for better employment opportunities, higher salaries, and other benefits.

“Currently, there’s a growing demand for nurses, especially in the ambulance services, critical care, mental health, and geriatric care sectors. There’s also a demand for medical technicians,’’ said Anoop K.A., Managing Director of the Kerala Government’s Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants (ODEPC).

Overall, only 300 nurses were recruited abroad through the ODEPC in 2019-20. But in the period between August 2020 and February 2021, the organisation has sent over 420 nurses to the U.A.E., Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the U.K. “And this number is on the rise,’’ Mr. Anoop said.

Evelyn P. Kannan, secretary general, Trained Nurses Association of India, Delhi, said that worldwide, countries are strengthening their healthcare systems after the pandemic. “We are definitely seeing a growing demand for trained nurses. Increased salary, healthcare benefits, family visa, etc., make the shift a lucrative deal,’’ Ms. Kannan said. 

Picture: Deccan Herald

The sentiment is echoed by nurses — even those working in Central government hospitals in the national capital. “In India, working as a nurse is becoming challenging and less attractive with long duty hours and comparatively less pay. The growth prospects are also limited,’’ a staff nurse at a government hospital in Delhi, who did not want to be named, said.

According to the Indian Nursing Council’s 2021 annual report, India has 5,162 nursing institutes, of which 87% are privately managed and 13% are government-run institutes. The country has the annual capacity to train 1,92,679 diploma-holding nurses (auxiliary nursing midwifery or ANM, and general nursing and midwifery or GNM); 1,33,299 graduate nurses (B.Sc. and Post Basic B.Sc.), and 17,141 postgraduate nurses (M.Sc and Post Basic M.Sc.).

‘Strengthening Healthcare Workforce in India: The 2047 Agenda’, a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), states: “Nursing is becoming less desirable as a profession and is witnessing increased migration to foreign countries, which has left India facing one of its worst shortages of nursing staff in recent years.’’

The report notes that nurses make up most of the employees in the healthcare industry and are essential for providing quality treatment to the patients, adding: “There is a great need for qualified nurses who are not only technically sound but also have specialised in various fields and are up to date on the most recent medical technology.”

In India, more than 60% of doctors and 50% of nurses/midwives are employed in the private sector. Also, while two-thirds of the country’s population is rural, only a third of the health workforce is available in rural areas, the report points out.

Dr. Avinash Gupta Of MMCSC Honored For Exemplary COVID-19 Relief Work

An Indian-American doctor has been honored with a humanitarian award by Monmouth Medical Center-Southern Campus. He was awarded for his exemplary work in public health and social service, especially for Covid related relief and humanitarian work in India and the US.

Dr. Avinash Gupta, Chief of Cardiology and President-elect of the medical staff at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus (MMCSC) in New Jersey, has been honored for his exemplary work in public health and social service, especially for COVID-19-related relief and humanitarian work in India and the US.

Picture: TheUNN

“Being involved with community groups and helping others has always been my passion. Community service is very rewarding and fulfilling. It has enriched me as a person,” said Gupta who received the humanitarian award from the Monmouth Medical Center-Southern Campus Gupta at a function in New Jersey on Diwali eve.

Dr Avinash Gupta is the Chief of Cardiology and President-elect of the medical staff at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus (MMCSC) in New Jersey.

After receiving the award, Dr Gupta said, “Being involved with community groups and helping others has always been my passion. Community service is very rewarding and fulfilling. It has enriched me as a person.” (sic)

Picture: TheUNN

Work During The Covid-19 Pandemic

Dr Gupta and his wife did Covid-19 related relief and humanitarian work in India and the US and also helped the students with their internships and workshops.

He virtually attended to many Indians in the US who did not have medical insurance and were unable to visit a medical facility during the Covid-19 lockdown.

When the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hit India, Dr Avinash Gupta came up with a teleconsultation service to help the poor and needy. At the time when the United States was reeling under the coronavirus pandemic, Dr Gupta spearheaded a team of 50 doctors and healthcare professionals to vaccinate 3,500 Indian-Americans in Ocean Country in the state of New Jersey.

Picture: TheUNN

Dr Gupta, along with his wife Dr Geeta Gupta, helped Indian students arriving in the US for training, workshops, conferences, internships.

In a bid to ease the pressure on overburdened hospitals, Dr Avinash Gupta also attended 1,000 patients and also raised over USD 250,000 for medical relief in India. He also provided assistance to Patna-based NGO AASTHA to build a 10-bed Covid care centre to battle the deadly pandemic.

Avinash Gupta attended to over 1,000 patients, which in turn helped ease the pressure on overburdened hospitals. He also raised over USD 250,000 for medical relief in India and helped AASTHA, a Patna-based NGO to establish a 10-bed Covid Care Center.

Ayurveda Summit Held At Indian Consulate In New York

On the occasion of the 7th Ayurveda Day, Consulate General of India, New York, organized an ‘Ayurveda Summit’ on 29 October 2022. This year’s Ayurveda Day was celebrated with the theme “Har Din Har Ghar Ayurveda” so as to propagate the benefits of Ayurveda to a larger audience by underlining the centrality of families as the carrier of this ancient wisdom. 

The event was organized as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, [email protected] series. The focus of the Summit was how to make Ayurveda appealing for the young generation which has meaningfully embraced holistic health and nature-based wellness as a way of life.  Prominent members of the community, media, yoga and Ayurveda practitioners and people from diverse backgrounds attended the Summit.

Picture: TheUNN

In his welcome remarks Consul General Mr. Randhir Jaiswal spoke on the growing popularity and acceptance of ayurveda in scientific terms. In this regard, he recalled the recently inaugurated World Health Organization’s Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India.  Noting that Ayurveda brings people closer to nature, he urged the audience to adopt Mission LIFE – that is Lifestyle for Environment – and support the cause of planet Earth.  

Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi has recently launched Mission LIFE calling upon each and every member of the global community to contribute towards the well-being of the planet.     

The program began with yoga, breathing and short meditation session led by Mr. Eddie Stern, a well-known yoga teacher, author and lecturer. Following this, a panel discussion was held on the topic – Ayurveda – From the Outside to Within – A timeless, universal science, moderated by Ms. Ruchika Lal. 

The panelists were Ms. Raina Kumra (CEO, Spicewell), Ms. Smrita Choubey (Founder, Veda Farms), Ayurveda health counselor Ms. France Brunel (Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Yoom) and Ms. Kavita Khosa (Founder and Creative Director, PurEarth). A second panel discussion included Dr. Bhaswati Bhattacharya, nutrition consultant; Ms. Divya Alter, chef and ayurveda expert; Ms. Nidhi Pandya, ayurveda expert; and Ms. Alak Vasa and Mr. Kushal Choksi of Elements Truffles. Following this, talks were held by Ms. Nidhi Pandya and Dr. Srinivasa K. Rao, on how to develop a deeper scientific understanding of Ayurveda. Element Truffles and the Art of Living Foundation partnered the Consulate in organizing the ayurveda summit. 

Miss World 2021 Runner-Up Shree Saini Implanted With New Pacemaker

Women, Entertainment, Health

Pacemakers are usually given to those who have lived a long life and now their heart needs an extra assistance. For me, I was born with a heart defect,” Shree, 26, wrote.

Indian-American model Shree Saini, who was declared the first runner-up at the Miss World 2021 pageant, recently revealed that she is undergoing heart surgery for a new pacemaker implant as her “current pacemaker batteries have died”. A heart patient, Shree, who got a pacemaker at the age of 12, went on to share that she has to “undergo a total of eight pacemaker replacement surgeries” in her lifetime.

Picture: TheUNN

“I would so greatly appreciate your prayers. There will be no visitors allowed at the hospital. I want to thank everyone who has been there for me. For those who may not know, I was born with a complete heart block, where my upper and bottom chambers did not communicate with each other. My block led me to me having a very low heart rate and feel terribly fatigued,” she mentioned in a note on Instagram.

“The pacemaker paces my heart to beat at a normal rate. It does this by using the pacemaker to send electric shocks to my heart which allows it to beat at a normal rate. Average age of a pacemaker recipient is age 80. Pacemakers are usually given to those who have lived a long life and now their heart needs an extra assistance. For me, I was born with a heart defect,” Shree, now 26, penned.

Adding that she is sharing her story to “encourage people to have a greater sense of hope even in their hardships”, she wrote, “Let’s rise up from our challenges with a victor, not a victim mindset.”

Shree, who was also adjudged Ambassador Beauty With Purpose at the 2021 Miss World, thanked her well-wishers for their constant support. “I still remember being a kid and being so confused, scared while waiting for my initial surgery. I do remember the teachers and peers who were there for me. I will forever be grateful for people who cared, reached out with comforting words and whose love filled me with strength. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I am the sum of God’s blessings, parents’ unconditional love and the blessings of so many people. So grateful for scientists, doctors for creating this remarkable pacemaker technology, that literally allows me to live today!”

About the size of a pocket watch, artificial pacemakers are implanted under the skin through an incision in the chest. The device is connected to the heart through leads or wires that deliver electrical signals that regulate the heart’s activity. “Pacemakers are small machines placed to generate heart beats. When your heart beats slows down to less than 50-60 beats, with or without heart conduction tissue, it indicates damage to your heart’s wiring system, or in cases of heart failure where a patient’s heart do not beat in tandem to produce a good pulse or output, then the doctor recommends these small machines to improve the quality of life, said Dr Bipeenchandra Bhamre, consultant cardiac surgeon, Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai, adding that ECG and Holter monitoring tests help to determine the need of pacemakers.

According to the expert, two types of machines are widely used — single chamber and dual chamber — depending on the number of heart chambers affected. “Periodic check up, every year, is required to check for battery. Your doctor will recommend the type of machine better for you,” he said.

Dr Pankaj Batra, senior interventional cardiologist, Fortis Escorts Faridabad, told indianexpress.com that the PPI or Permanent Pacemaker Implantation procedure takes about an hour to be completed. “Permanent pacemaker insertion is considered a minimally invasive procedure. Transvenous access to the heart chambers under local anesthesia is the favored technique. It is not a surgery,” said Dr Batra, adding that “in case of congenital heart defects, pacemakers may be preferred for a long life.”

Picture: TheUNN

A National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) review also suggested that the primary purpose of such a device is to maintain an adequate heart rate, either because the heart’s natural pacemaker is not fast enough, or there is a block in the heart’s electrical conduction system. “Modern pacemakers are externally programmable and allow the cardiologist to select the optimum pacing modes for patients on a case-to-case basis,” explained Dr Batra and further said that replacement is usually done after 10 to 15 years using a “minor procedure”.

While pacemakers can be temporary in cases of a heart attack, permanent pacemakers are used to control long-term heart issues. “Pacemaker can relieve some arrhythmia symptoms, such as fatigue and fainting. A pacemaker also can help a person who has abnormal heart rhythms resume a more active lifestyle,” mentioned the NCBI review. Agreed Dr Batra and mentioned that pacemakers are needed to “improve the quality of life”, and with minimal heart-related issues. (Courtesy: The Indian Express)

Micron Technology CEO Sanjay Mehrotra To Invest $100 Billion, Creating 50,000 Jobs In NY

Technology, Business

Indian American Sanjay Mehrotra, the CEO of Micron Technology has promised to invest $100 billion over the next 20 years which will be instrumental in the creation of thousands of jobs in New York.

In his LinkedIn post, Mehrotra said that he met President Joe Biden on October 28 and showcased Micron’s future plans and the creation of the largest semiconductor fabrication facility in Clay, New York.

Kanpur-born Indian-origin Mehrotra said in a LinkedIn post that he met US President Joe Biden, and showcased the future plans of his company and the creation of the largest semiconductor fabrication facility in the history of the US. 

“Today, I was humbled to meet with President Biden, introduce him to some of the Micron team, and showcase Micron’s plans for our future megafab in Clay, New York. This $100B investment over the next two decades will create the largest semiconductor fabrication facility in the history of the United States,” he said in the post. 

Mehrotra said in the post that their company will create 50,000 jobs in New York and will partner with local colleges, universities and community organisation to build the workforce. He said that they aim to make New York the hub of leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing. 

he fabs, part of Micron’s manufacturing network, will create memory chips that can be used in the most demanding applications worldwide. “Clay, New York will be able to say with pride that they are home to some of the most advanced semiconductor facilities anywhere in the world. We are proud to drive a vision for high-tech manufacturing leadership here in America,” he said. 

The company further stated in a release that it will invest $250 million in the Green CHIPS Community Investment Fund, with an additional $100 million invested from New York, with $150 million from local, other state and national partners. “To secure US leadership in semiconductor manufacturing, cultivate American innovation and ensure economic and national security, it is imperative we come together to build and transform a workforce for the future. Our commitments through the Community Investment Framework represent the first foundational steps toward Central New York’s transformation,” said Mehrotra on President Biden’s visit. 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said that the project’s $500 million community fund will sustain the region in the long term with investments in workforce, housing, and infrastructure. 

Micron Technology is a Nasdaq-listed company that focuses on innovative memory and storage solutions. 

Micron’s founder Sanjay Mehrotra was born in Kanpur, and completed his schooling from Delhi’s Sardar Patel Vidyalaya. He moved to the US at the age of 18, transferring from BITS Pilani to University of California, Berkeley. He earned his BA and MA degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from University of California. Mehrotra then enrolled in Stanford University for an executive business degree. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Boise State University. Mehrotra also holds around 70 patents.

AAPI’s Global Healthcare Summit 2023 Will Be Held In Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh

The 16th annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) 2022, organized by the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with Andhra Medical College Alumni Association, and Andhra Medical College, Indian Medical Association, AP, Association of Telugu Medical Graduates in the USA and Rangaraya Medical College Alumni Association and Government of State of AP will be held at the prestigious Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach, Andhra Pradesh, India from January 6th to 8th, 2022. 
 
Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI welcomed AAPI members to attend the 16th Global Healthcare Summit planned to be held in Vishakhapatnam, in Andhra Pradesh from January 6th to 8th, 2023. “I need all your input and participation to make it a grand success and I know I can count on all of you. Registration has been open for GHS. Pre-GHS Vietnam. Cambodia and Kaulampur family CME tour and the spots are filling up fast and will be sold out soon. So, I request you all to sign up soon.”
 
While elaborating on the themes and areas that are going to be covered during the Summit, Dr. V. Ranga, Chair of AAPI BOT, says, “The GHS 2023 will focus on Mental Health and Physician Burnout Issues, Rural Health Initiatives, Infant and Maternal Health issues as well as Medical Jeopardy, Research Poster presentations by medical students.”

According to GHS US Chair Dr. Prasad Chalasani, “There will be cutting edge CME and academic presentations organized by the CME Chair Dr. Sreeni Gangasani and Academic Chair Dr. Sharma Prabhakar, on topics covering, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics, Oncology and discussions on research methodology and scientific writing by academic experts organized by Dr. B K Kishore.  In our efforts to realize the core mission of AAPI, which is to share the best from leading experts from around the world, to collaborate on clinical challenges, the GHS in Visakhapatnam will have clinical tracks that are of vital to healthcare in India.” 


Dr. Ravi Raju, GHS Chair in India, says, “Healthcare in India is one of the largest sectors, in terms of revenue and employment. India is making significant improvements in its healthcare infrastructure and is building modern medical facilities throughout India. Indian doctors have made tremendous progress in the 21st century and India is now being touted as a medical tourism hub. With hundreds of physicians joining from the United States, the summit is expected to be attended by three hundred delegates from around the world. AAPI Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) will have many new initiatives and will be carrying the torch of ongoing projects undertaken by AAPI’s past leaders.” 

Dr. Ravi Kolli said, “Dr. Lokesh Edara and Dr. Brahma Sharma, who are the co-chairs of International medical education will conduct a high-powered panel discussion by International Medical Education experts including CEOs of ECFMG, WFMC, and National Medical Council officials.” 

According to Dr. Kolli, “Dr. Sampath Shivangi is inviting senior leaders from leading healthcare organizations including pharmaceuticals, device and medical equipment manufacturers and major medical teaching institutions, hospitals and the Ministries of Health, External/Overseas Affairs and regulatory bodies to attend and collaborate with AAPI with an ultimate goal to providing accessible and affordable high-quality healthcare to all people of India.”

CEO Forum Chair Dr. Joseph Chalil said. “We will have discussions on Equity, Ethics and Physician Burnout Issues.” The Women’s Forum chair Dr. Udaya Shivangi announced that “there will be meaningful discussions and policy statements on gender bias and its impact on leadership.”

Dr. Manoj Jain, Chair of CETI – Collaboration to Eliminate TB in India supported by CDC and USAID, will discuss their ongoing long-term TB Elimination Projects in India.
  
While elaborating on the aims of the Summit, Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI, says, “This innovative Summit is aimed at advancing the accessibility, affordability, and the quality of world-class healthcare to the people of India. Among other areas, the Summit will focus on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options and share ways to truly improve healthcare transcending global boundaries.”
 
Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI, says, “It is these learning opportunities and collaborative relationships that have now enabled AAPI and participating organizations to plan and prepare for an outstanding event that is expected to have over 300 prominent and experienced physicians and surgeons of Indian origin from around the world, who are very passionate about serving their homeland, Mother India.” 
 

Dr. Meher Medavaram, Secretary of AAPI says, “Being organized at this critical phase, GHS 2023 is aimed at exploring 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.”

According to Dr. Sumul Rawal, Treasurer of AAPI, “With the changing trends and statistics in healthcare, both in India and US, we are refocusing our mission and vision and AAPI would like to make a positive and meaningful impact on the healthcare delivery system both in the US and in India.”
 
The global healthcare summit has come a long way from the first Indo-US Healthcare Summit launched by AAPI USA in 2007. Since then, AAPI has organized 15 Indo – US/Global Healthcare Summits and developed strategic alliances with various organizations.

“It will be a one-of-a-kind experience at a unique and novel location where you will be guaranteed to have a most memorable experience of a lifetime. Do not miss it. Limited early bird registration is open and filling up fast. We are looking forward to your participation, suggestions, and support,” Dr. Kolli said. For more details, please visit: www.aapiusa.org/  To register for the Global Healthcare Summit 2023, please visit: https://summit.aapiusa.org

Woman Can Have A Satisfactory Sex Life After Menopause

Menopause is the natural biological process characterized by the cessation or stopping of a woman’s menstrual cycle, marking the end of fertility. The general onset is observed in middle-aged women, i.e., between 40 to 50 years of age. As aging advances, the reproductive cycle slows down and prepares to stop. Ovaries begin to age and produce fewer reproductive hormones altering the menstrual cycle. The body undergoes several associated changes in response to fluctuating levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormonal disturbances stimulate several physical, psychological and emotional changes having varied outcomes as the body adapts to the changing hormonal environment.

Physical Changes:

Irregular Menstruation

Weight gain

Hot flashes and night sweats

Urinary incontinence

Drier and thinner skin and hair

Emotional Changes :

Mood swings

Anxiety and depression

Stress and tension.

Anger and irritability.

A lack of motivation and difficulty concentrating.

Other Associated Changes

Worsening of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Changes in libido (sex drive)

A loss of energy and insomnia.

Memory lapses

Headaches

Sexual Well-being during and after menopause

All women experience menopause differently, and many women experience changes in their sex life as they go through menopause. The loss of estrogen and testosterone following menopause induces multiple changes in a woman’s body and influences sexual function. Also, lower levels of estrogen can cause a drop in blood supply to the vagina, which can affect vaginal lubrication, causing the vagina to be too dry for comfortable sex. Moreover, other menopausal symptoms like bladder control problems, sleep disturbances, depression or anxiety, stress, medications, and other health concerns also affect the sexual well-being of the women experiencing menopause.

While the hormonal alteration of menopause may modify the physical and emotional aspects of sexual well-being, specific measures can assist in overcoming adversities and improving sex life. These include:

Raising libido

Changing your attitude towards sex along with talking to your partner about the same is a good way to start. A welcoming attitude towards conversations around sex especially after a certain age is looked at as taboo. So it’s important to change that mindset for yourself and well as for your partner.

Good foreplay- helps increase lubrication

Frequent vaginal intercourse- helps maintain blood supply

Find alternative methods to increase intimacy

Besides the suggestions mentioned above, below suggestions will also aid you to ensure your sexual wellness stays intact –

Manage your depression. Depression is increasingly common in midlife and may notoriously dampen desire. Seek medical help if you notice any symptoms of depression.

Opt for alternate medication. Certain drugs used for treating old-age ailments like diabetes and hypertension may also adversely affect sexual well-being. Ask your physician to help find an alternative medicine if your medication lowers your libido.

Stay healthy. It is essential to stay fit and healthy through regular exercise and healthy eating as it improves your overall health, which boosts your sexual well-being.

Relieve your stress and anxiety. Job pressures, family responsibilities, lack of privacy, and worries about children or aging parents build stress, negatively affecting overall well-being.

Limit Alcohol. Although a glass of wine might enhance your libido, heavy drinking may act reversely on your sexual health.

Keep a check on your health conditions. Diseases affecting blood flow and nerve function, like diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis, may reduce sexual responsiveness. Thus it is important to seek timely medical assistance.

Quit smoking

Dealing with pain

Treat vaginal atrophy. Your physician may advise water-based and longer-lasting silicone-based lubricants to make penetration less painful. Topical estrogen in the form of a cream, a suppository, or a ring can be used to treat vaginal atrophy as it releases the hormone to help plump vaginal tissues and aid lubrication.

Get physical therapy. Physical therapy in the form of exercises and massage may help relax and stretch tissues in the pelvic area and reduce the pain.

Orthopedic problems may cause pain and limit your sexual activities- changes in positions may help.

Although sexual problems can be hard to discuss, it is always good to to consult your doctor. Your doctor may refer you and your partner to a health professional specializing in sexual dysfunction. The therapist may advise sexual counselling individually, with your partner, Collaborative measures involving medical aids, professional guidance, and counseling can help deal with these biological changes and enhance the quality of life. So, even though there may be some physical and mental hardships during menopause, a woman can still enjoy satisfactory sex life. (IANS)

AAPI-GAPI Diwali Banquet & Governing Body Meeting In Atlanta Raises Funds For Suicide Prevention

Over 250 delegates from around the nation attended the annual Governing Body Meeting and Diwali- Dussehra Celebrations organized jointly by the national American Association Of Physicians Of Indian Origin (AAPI) and the Georgia Association Of Physicians Of Indian Origin Chapter from October 7th to 9th, 2022 at the Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway Hotel in Atlanta, GA.

India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Shree V. Muraleedharan and the  Consul General of India in Atlanta, Dr. Swati Kulkarni were the chief guests at the Gala, which began with the lighting of the traditional lamp, symbolizing the celebration of India’s national festival, Diwali that represents celebrating Light over Darkness.

CME topics encompassing recent advances were well received by the AAPI fraternity. Meticulous planning of the events made the delegates feel that they were attending a national convention with the most delicious food, elegant decorations, unique entertainment, great CME and late nite Mehfil. The Bollywood and Garba Nite by popular artists led by Samir and Dipalee was the icing on the cake.

The gala began with Dr. Uma Johnnalagadda, President of GAPI, Dr. Sreeni Ganagasani, and Dr. Raghu Lolabhattu, welcoming community members, family, friends, colleagues, and sponsors.  “We, the AAPI-GAPI team worked hard to stick to the mission of AAPI, for education and charity to serve humanity. We thank each and every member that attended and supported the event. Our special thanks to all our Sponsors,” Dr. Jonnalagadda said. 

In his presidential address, Dr. Ravi Kolli, president of national AAPI thanked “GAPI leadership Drs. Uma Jonnalagadda, Sreeni Gangasani, Raghu Lolabhattu, Raj Alappan, Tarak Patel, Amol Takalkar, Syamala Erramilli, Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, Brahma, Amol, Chandana, Mukul,  Uday and the rest of the organizing committee for the wonderful & fantastic teamwork for a masterful Governing Body, GALA & Fundraising Campaign.”  While lauding their efforts, Dr. Kolli said, “You certainly raised the bar for the next meeting. We had a productive meeting with thoughtful and helpful discussions from all EC BOT & GB members and senior leaders. As always our speaker Dr. Goyle masterfully managed the meeting.”

September is recognized as “National Suicide Prevention Month.” AAPI Women’s Forum initiated a fundraiser to support Suicide Awareness programs. During and post Covid, physician burnout and the suicide rate among physicians had gone up. Every year about 200 + physicians die by suicide. Suicide has a devastating effect on the lives of family members, friends, co-workers, and society. In 2021, in the US alone, more than 47,000 people lost their lives to suicide, Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Chair of AAPI’s Women’s Forum pointed out. “By learning the signs, starting conversations, understanding barriers, and sharing resources we can all contribute to preventing this loss of precious life.”

The amount, of $15,000 raised during the Gala has been donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Georgia Chapter whose mission is to help save lives and bring hope
to those affected by suicide. A check was presented to the Board Chair for the Georgia chapter of AFSP Cheryl Cloar during the GAPI-AAPI Gala on October 8th. Dr. Shivangi thanked all, especially the Women’s Forum members, Dr. Gita Mehta, Dr. Manju Sachdeva, Dr. Sapna Aggarwal, Dr. Anupama Bhatt, Dr. Sunitha Polepalli, Dr. Hetal Gor, Dr. Shubha Jain, Dr. Uma Jonnalagadda, Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala, Dr. Malti Mehta, Dr. Ammu Thampi Susheela, Dr. Indira Veerisetty and Advisor, Dr. Anjana Samadder for their hard work. 

While urging the AAPI members and the medical fraternity to use all the resources available to prevent suicide, Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI said, “We must become aware of, utilize and help others become aware of and use all the resources available that will help prevent suicide.”

In his address, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI said, “Thank you Drs. Sreeni Gangasani, Raghu Lolabhattu, Uma Jonnalagadda & the entire GAPI Team for a fabulous event. AAPI made the right choice by choosing Atlanta once again for the governing body meeting.”

Dr. Kolli urged AAPI members to come and attend the next edition of the Global Healthcare Summit planned to be held in Vishakapatnam, in Andhra Pradesh from January 6th to 8th, 2023. “I need all of your input and participation to make it a grand success. I know I can count on all of you for that and registration has been open for GHS. Pre-GHS Vietnam. Cambodia and Kaulampur family CME tour spots are filling up fast and will be sold out soon. So I request you all to join our AAPI GHS from January 6-8th 2023 in Visakhapatnam.”

The GHS 2023 will focus on Mental Health, Infant and Maternal Mortality as well as Medical Jeopardy, and Research Poster presentations by medical students, panel discussions by International Medical Education experts and National Medical Council Board officials, Mentoring of Young Professionals, CEO forum on Equity, Ethics and Physician Burnout Issues, Women’s Forum on Gender bias and Leadership, TB Elimination Projects in India, Latest Advances CME, ENLS, Discussions on Research Methodology and Scientific Writing by Academic Experts, Advocacy on Stigma and Suicide Prevention and Chronic Disease Reversal and Prevention, Rural Health Initiatives and Global Health Issues including Climate change and health and many more current topics along with delicious food and enchanting cultural and popular entertainment programs. 

“It will be one-of-a-kind experience at a unique and novel location where you will be guaranteed to have a most memorable experience of a lifetime. Do not miss it. Limited early bird registration is open and filling up fast. We are looking forward to your participation, suggestions, and support,” Dr. Ravi said. For more details, please visit: www.aapiusa.org/ And to register for the GHS 2023, please visit: www.summit.aapiusa.org 

Drugs Made In India Are Sparking Safety Concerns

In the winter of 2019, a number of children living in India’s Jammu region began falling sick with what many thought was a mysterious illness. 

The children, suffering from cough and cold, had been prescribed a cough syrup by local doctors. Instead of recovering, they fell seriously ill, vomiting, running high fever and kidneys shutting down. By the time the mystery was solved, 11 children, aged between two months and six years, had died.

Tests found that three samples of the cough syrup, made by an Indian drug company called Digital Vision, contained diethylene glycol or DEG, an industrial solvent used in the making of paints, ink, brake fluids. Kidney failure is common after consuming this poisonous alcohol. 

India production halted after Gambia child fatalities

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) put out a global warning over four India-made cough syrups thought to be linked to the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia. Lab analysis of the samples of a syrup made by a 32-year-old firm called Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited confirmed the presence of “unacceptable amounts” of diethylene glycol and another toxic alcohol called ethylene glycol. 

The tainted drugs and the tragic deaths again shone a spotlight on India’s $42bn – half of the revenues come from exports – drug manufacturing industry. 

Some 3,000 firms operate 10,000 pharmaceutical factories making generics (copies of branded medicines that usually sell for a fraction of their price), over-the-counter medicines, vaccines and ingredients in what is one of the world’s largest drug-making countries. Although India imports 70% of the active ingredient chemicals for its medicines from China, it is trying to make more of them at home. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has championed India as the “pharmacy of the world”. India’s traditional expertise in making generics has helped make it a formidable low-cost maker of drugs and become a global manufacturing base. 

Some 40% of over-the-counter and generic medicines sold in the US and a quarter of all medicines dispensed in the UK come from India. The country supplies some two-thirds of anti-retroviral drugs globally to fight HIV. Outside the USA, India has the most number of drug making plants – 800 – that are compliant with the US health and safety requirements. 

Yet such breathless growth – the industry has been running at a clip of over 9% every year for nearly a decade – has been clouded by allegations of problems of quality and weak regulation. 

Gambia cough syrup scandal: Mothers demand justice

Many believe that India has always battled a flood of counterfeit drugs, mostly sold in small towns and villages. But analysts say the physicians and patients are possibly conflating sub-standard drugs with what they think are fake medicines. State-run drug testing labs in many states are under-funded, short-staffed and poorly equipped. Regulatory oversight and enforcement is unsurprisingly spotty, analysts say. In 2014, India’s top drug regulator famously told a newspaper: “If I follow US standards I will have to shut almost all drug facilities.” 

More than 70 people, mostly children, have died in five separate mass poisoning incidents related to drugs spiked with DEG since 1972. 

In 2013, after a seven-year long investigation, top Indian drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories was ordered to pay a record $500m fine in the US, the biggest handed down to a generic drug maker for improper manufacturing, storing and testing of drugs. 

Official government records reveal that between 2007 and 2020, more than 7,500 drugs sampled in just three of India’s 28 states and three union territories had failed quality tests and had been declared drugs “not of standard quality” or inferior, research by Dinesh Thakur, a former Indian drug executive-turned-public health expert, found. 

These drugs failed tests for not having enough of ingredient chemicals, impaired ability to dissolve in the patients’ blood or were found to be contaminated. 

Each failed sample typically represents a batch of the medicine, which in turn could run into hundreds of thousands of tablets, capsules and injections. “The total number of patients affected by such inferior drugs possibly runs into hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions over the last decade,” says Mr Thakur, co-author of The Truth Pill, a piercing look at drug regulation in India. 

Cough-syrup scandal: How did it end up in The Gambia?

Mr Thakur says he worries that many Indian firms are not following “good manufacturing practices” or GMP, a drug industry term to refer to testing for quality control. He believes that the DEG-related incidents had occurred at home – and now abroad – because some firms “quite often fail to test either the raw materials or the final formulation before shipping it to the market”. 

“Given the sheer quality of drugs detected as “not of standard quality” over the last decade from the open market it is obvious that a large number of manufacturing facilities are completely flouting quality and process control procedures that form the core of ‘good manufacturing practices'” says Mr Thakur. 

That’s not all. Using right to information law, Mr Thakur found many of India’s state-owned drug testing labs lacked key equipment. Drug sampling practices, he noted, date back to a colonial 1875 law where inspectors pick up a small number of random samples from the market. 

India has been debating a law to recall drugs that have been found to be inferior from the market since nearly half a century. “All it has are guidelines, which many state regulators seem to be unaware of. Have you ever heard of a drug recalled in India?” says Mr Thakur. 

It is difficult to understand the scale of the problem – many of India’s drug factories are indeed world-class. Physicians say they largely trust India-made drugs. 

Dr Rahul Baxi, a Mumbai-based diabetologist, told me that only once in recent years he became suspicious about a drug when glucose levels of a patient shot up after he switched off from branded drug to a cheaper generic. 

But he suspects that there could be counterfeit or inferior drugs being sold in small towns and villages. “Many of my patients that come from far flung parts of India buy six months of prescribed drugs from pharmacies in the city because they say they don’t trust drugs available in their areas,” Dr Baxi said.

After the deaths of the children in The Gambia, India claimed that its federal regulator was “robust” and sought more details from the WHO on the causality of the deaths with the exported cough syrup. 

Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates medical products in the US, posts inspection status of firms supplying drugs to the US and warning letters. A spokesperson told me that its policies ensure that “companies – regardless of where the are located – meet the FDA’s strict standards for producing medicines for US patients that are high quality, safe and effective”.

A pharmaceutical industry leader, insisting on anonymity, told me that “although some countries do have very rigid quality standards”, India’s drugs were completely safe. “We are not defending the mishaps,” he said, “but these are aberrations”. Mr Thakur says: “An aberration should only happen once. You can’t play with people’s lives”.  (BBC.COM)

AAHOA Director of Corporate Communications Melissa Stern’s Survivor Story for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, AAHOA Director of Corporate Communications Melissa Stern shares her survivor story in a recent podcast interview. Back in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Melissa was diagnosed with cancer. In this interview, she talks about making a career change, overcoming breast cancer during a global pandemic, and sharing advice based on what she’s learned.

“Cancer changes you. I’ve become a completely different person than who I was before I was diagnosed, and it makes you reconsider what is important in life…I just thought I want to spend every moment that I can of my free time with my family and friends and doing the things that I truly enjoy doing. Obviously, I still work full time but in a different capacity where…I feel like I have more freedom and flexibility to do what I love to do.”

Listen to the full interview  and learn more about Melissa’s battle with cancer and advice for others who’ve received a scary diagnosis. 

Watch Melissa’s cancer journey in this news story.

Asian Americans’ Health Poorly Understood, Study Finds

A study led by Indian-origin doctor Nilay Shah says that the standard approach and definitions of obesity, based on specific body mass index thresholds, may not be appropriate for the Asian American population. 

The Asian Americans are a fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States with their population expected to number more than 46 million by 2060.

“Clinicians must be aware that the cardiovascular and metabolic risks related to obesity may be different among individuals who belong to different Asian subgroups,” says lead author Dr Nilay Shah, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Illinois.

The standard threshold for obesity is a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above, but the study finds that the number should be a BMI of 27.5 or above for Asian American people, based on their health risks.

Health risks in this population also may start at a lower BMI than the standard BMI definitions of obesity, the study says. It further finds that the prevalence of obesity ranged from 13 per cent in Chinese American adults to 29 per cent in Filipino American adults.

So, applying standard definitions to Asian Americans may miss a large portion of adults from these groups who have higher risks for disease because of their body composition, Shah says.

The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, identifies the prevalence of obesity in the six largest Asian American subgroups – Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese, which better represents the variability in obesity in Asian subgroups in the US. (IANS)

AAPI Holds Educational Webinar On South Asian Heart Disease: Current Concepts in Better Prediction, Detection and Prevention of Heart Attack in South Asians

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and the nation spends over $500 billion on cardiovascular disease each year. Studies have shown that immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal are experiencing a dramatic rise in heart disease. South Asians make up 25 percent of the world’s population, but they contribute 60 percent of global cardiovascular deaths.

In this context, as part of an ongoing awareness and education campaign about high-risk heart disease in South Asians, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States presented two eminent speakers and experts, discussing ways to create awareness on South Asian Heart Disease: Current Concepts in Better Prediction, Detection And Prevention of Heart Attack in South Asians during a webinar on Saturday, October 1, 2022. 

Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, CEO of Verve Therapeutics, Brood Institute, MIT & Harvard, spoke on “Genomics of Cardiovascular Disease and Potential Use of Genomic in Better Prediction in South Asians,” and Dr. Jaideep Patel addressed the audience on “Early Detection of Coronary Atherosclerosis By Coronary Calcium Score And Coronary CTA, Especially Among South Asians.” 

In his remarks, Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI, said,” In the context of World Heart Day on September 29th, today’s conference is being organized to educate and create awareness about the major health issue faced by South Asians and offer ways to mitigate heart disease. Dr. Kolli said, “Today’s CME is focused on Recent Advances in South Asian Heart Disease by 2 eminent Indian American physicians who are in the forefront of research and treatment of this deadly disease. It is forward-looking information focusing on cutting edge technologies that can alter the treatment from chronic care model to once and done type of innovative therapies and latest recommendation for actively screening and offering early preventive care to treat cardiovascular disease, especially among the South Asians.”  

During his detailed presentation, Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, a physician-scientist, and a human geneticist, who leverages human genetics to understand the root causes of heart attack and to improve preventive cardiac care, shared about his scientific contributions, that have helped highlight new biological mechanisms underlying heart attack, discovered mutations that protect against heart attack risk, and developed a genetic test for personalized heart attack prevention.

According to him, both genetic and lifestyle factors contribute to individual-level risk of coronary artery disease. The extent to which increased genetic risk can be offset by a healthy lifestyle is unknown. Citing data, Dr. Kathiresan said, across four studies involving 55,685 participants, genetic and lifestyle factors were independently associated with susceptibility to coronary artery disease. Among participants with high genetic risk, a favorable lifestyle was associated with a nearly 50% lower relative risk of coronary artery disease than was an unfavorable lifestyle. 

Dr. Sekar Kathiresan is the co-founder and CEO of Verve Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering a new approach to the care of cardiovascular disease, transforming treatment from chronic management to single-course gene editing medicines. Dr. Kathiresan is a cardiologist and scientist who has focused his career on understanding the inherited basis for heart attack and leveraging those insights to improve the care of cardiovascular disease. Based on his groundbreaking discoveries in human genetic mutations that confer resistance to cardiovascular disease

Dr. Jaideep Patel, in his presentation on “Coronary Atherosclerosis By Coronary Calcium Score And Coronary CTA” drew the attention of the audience to the Coronary Calcium Scoring algorithm, which is capable of automatically calculating a patient’s Agatston equivalent coronary calcium score from ECG gated CT scan, provides physicians with important data used in the assessment of the risk for coronary artery disease.

Dr. Jaideep Patel is a cardiologist in Baltimore, Maryland and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including at the Heart & Vascular Center at Johns Hopkins University, with primary focus on Preventive Cardiology, pointed out that usual risk scoring has been done on Caucasians and cannot be extrapolated to south Asians. Citing Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, that he was part of Dr. Patel said, Coronary artery calcium improves risk assessment in adults with a family history of premature coronary heart disease.  Hereditary factors play an important role in the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Indeed, the presence of a family history (FH) of premature coronary heart disease (CHD) was one of the earliest recognized cardiovascular risk factors, he said. 

Dr. Brahma Sharma, Senior Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh affiliated VA Medical Center,  a co-host and moderator of the event, said, “While we are still trying to figure out different mechanisms for this enigma, that should not prevent but rather motivate to follow more aggressively lifestyle modifications and pre-empt and prevent this silent epidemic that is taking a toll on young Indians and South Asians globally.” Dr. Sharma who is serving as the Chair of AAPI South Asian Heart Disease Committee and as the Chair AHA/ AAPI Liaison, sharing on the objectives of the Heart Health Education sessions by AAPI, Dr. Sharma said, “The Webinar is focused on: Better Prediction; Early Detection; and, Effective Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases, especially among the people of South Asian origin.”  

Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, Chair of AAPI CME Committee, said, “In addition to educational webinars, we also plan to take this knowledge to grass root level via conducting mini- health screening camps across different cities with help of local AAPI chapters throughout USA and invite Global South Asian diaspora to join hands in this mission to prevent heart attacks and save lives.”
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Kolli said, “heart disease is the number one Global Public Health problem. South Asians are at a four-times greater risk of heart disease than their western counterparts and have a greater chance of having a heart attack before 50 years of age. Heart attacks strike South Asian Men and Women at younger ages, and as a result, both morbidity and mortality are higher among them compared to any other ethnic group. They tend to develop heart disease ten years earlier than other groups. Efforts to raise awareness of heart disease and promote “Healthy Heart” lifestyles is essential.”  For more information on AAPI and its programs, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

‘Love Hormone’ Oxytocin May Help Mend Broken Hearts (Literally), Lab Study Suggests

By, Nicoletta Lanese

Oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone,” may help heal broken hearts — literally. In a new study of zebrafish and human cells, scientists found that the brain-made hormone may help heart tissue regenerate after injury and, in theory, could someday be used in the treatment of heart attacks, according to the researchers.

Because the new study was conducted in fish tanks and lab dishes, however, this theoretical treatment is still far from realization.

Oxytocin has been nicknamed the “love” or “cuddle” hormone for its known role in forging social bonds and trust between people, and its levels often rise when people cuddle, have sex or orgasm. However, the so-called love hormone also serves many other functions in the body, such as triggering contractions during childbirth and promoting lactation afterward. Oxytocin also helps guard the cardiovascular system from injury by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation and diffusing free radicals, a reactive byproduct of normal cell metabolism, according to a 2020 review in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (opens in new tab). 

The new study, published Friday (Sept. 30) in the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology (opens in new tab), highlights yet another potential benefit of oxytocin: At least in zebrafish, the hormone helps the heart replace injured and dead cardiomyocytes, the muscle cells that power heart contractions. Early results in human cells hint that oxytocin could stimulate similar effects in people, if delivered with the right timing and dose.

The heart has a very limited ability to repair or replace damaged or dead tissue, the study authors noted in their report. But several studies suggest that after an injury, like a heart attack, a subset of cells in the heart’s outermost membrane, called the epicardium, don a new identity. These cells migrate down into the layer of heart tissue where muscles reside and transform into stem-like cells, which can then turn into several heart cells types, including cardiomyocytes. 

This process has largely been studied in animals and there’s some evidence to suggest that it may also occur in adult humans. Unfortunately, if the process does occur in people, it seems to unfold too inefficiently and in too few cells to result in meaningful tissue regeneration after a heart attack, the study authors said in a statement (opens in new tab). By somehow encouraging more epicardial cells to morph into cardiomyocytes, the authors theorize, scientists could help the heart rebuild itself after injury. 

The study authors found they could jump-start this process in human cells in a lab dish by exposing them to oxytocin. They also tested 14 other brain-made hormones, but none of the others could coax the cells into the desired stem-like state required to make new cardiomyocytes, according to the statement.  

The team then conducted follow-up experiments in zebrafish, a fish in the minnow family known for its impressive ability to regenerate tissues in its body, including the brain, bones and heart. The team found that, within three days of a cardiac injury, the fishes’ brains began pumping out oxytocin like mad, producing up to 20 times more than they had prior to the injury, the team found. The hormone then traveled to the heart, plugged into its receptors and kicked off the process of transforming epicardial cells into new cardiomyocytes. 

These experiments provide early hints that oxytocin may play a key role in heart repair after injury, and by boosting its effects, scientists could develop new treatments to improve patients’ recovery after heart attacks and reduce the risk of future heart failure, the authors concluded. These treatments might include drugs that contain oxytocin or other molecules that can plug into the hormone’s receptors. 

“Next, we need to look at oxytocin in humans after cardiac injury,” senior author Aitor Aguirre, an assistant professor in the Michigan State University Department of Biomedical Engineering, said in the statement. “Overall, pre-clinical trials in animals and clinical trials in humans are necessary to move forward.” (Courtesy: https://www.livescience.com/oxytocin-heart-regeneration)

Physician Burnout Up Significantly Since Beginning Of COVID-19 Pandemic

By, Jeffrey Bendix

Burnout was a significant problem for doctors and other health care workers (HCWs) even before the arrival of COVID-19. Now a new study reveals just how much worse the pandemic has made it.

Researchers surveyed more than 107,000 HCWs across a wide range of health care-related occupations in 2019, 2020 and 2021-22 to measure and compare both individual levels of emotional exhaustion (EE) and workers’ perception of EE among their colleagues. They found that the overall EE rate among HCWs jumped from 31.8% in 2019 to 40.4% in 2021-22. The increase in individuals’ perception of EE among others—what the authors call the emotional exhaustion climate—was from 54% to 65%.

Perhaps surprisingly, EE among the three categories of physicians studied—residents, attending/staff physicians and physicians not working in a hospital–remained the same or declined between 2019 and 2020 a result the authors attribute to decreases in patient volume and the flexibility offered by telehealth resulting from the pandemic.

But the situation reversed dramatically in the following years, so that by 2021-22 the percentage of residents reporting EE had increased from 24.6% to 34.4%, from 33.4% to 40.1% among attending/staff physicians, and 29% to 34.6% among doctors not working for a hospital. These were, the authors say, “the largest single-year increases reported by any roles across any time frame, exceeding what was found during a three-year period when EHRs were introduced nationally.”

Among non-physicians, the largest growth in EE—from 27% to 39%–was among physical, occupational and speech therapists. Other occupations seeing significant increases included technologists (32% to 43%), technicians (33% to 42%), administrative support staff (29% to 38%), and nurses (40.6% to 49.2%).

Based on their findings and those of other studies, the authors call HCW burnout a “parallel pandemic that will be felt for many years to come.” Addressing it, they say, will require focusing on HCW well-being using both institutional and individual resources. Moreover, those resources need to be evidence-based and accessible to all employees, and their use must be role-modeled by organizational and institutional leaders.

The study, “Emotional Exhaustion Among U.S. Health Care Workers Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2019-2021” was published September 21 on JAMA Network Open.

(https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/senator-moves-to-end-covid-19-pandemic-national-emergency)

MSCK And MSSNY Hold Joint Legislative Meeting In Brooklyn

The Medical Society of the County of Kings (MSCK) and The Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) held a joint legislative meeting at Brooklyn Borough Hall on September 15, 2022. Attendees included guest of honor Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Chairman of Health Committee, NY Senator Gustavo Rivera, NY Assembly woman Stefani Zinerman, NY Assemblyman Michael Tannousis and NY Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz.

MSCK President Dr. Jagdish Gupta began the evening by welcoming the participants and presenting a unique opportunity for them to engage in dialogue with elected representatives. In introducing NYS Senator Hon. Gustavo Rivera, Dr. Gupta said: “Senator Rivera has made it his duty to fight the long-standing health inequalities in our communities.”

Dr. Gupta thanked the Senator for his committee’s support on the following legislation:


• Telehealth payment parity
• Extension of the Excess Medical Malpractice Insurance Program
• Increasing Medicaid Payments by Restoring Medicaid Cuts of 1.5 % of 2020 and
increasing Medicaid Physician Payment for E&M services to 70% of Medicare.
• Providing 75% increase in Loan Repayment Program to Physician Students
He went on to thank him for his efforts in passing the following:
• Requirements for same specialty Peer Review process by Health Plans
• Prohibiting Health insurers from Preventing patients from using Co-Pay cards or
Coupons
• Preventing Health insurers from imposing Step Therapy or Fail First Protocols
• For lowering the age of screening colonoscopy to age 45 years
• Providing additional due process protection to Healthcare Providers audited by OMIG

 

Dr. Gupta stressed that the Wrongful Death Liability Expansion Bill, if enacted into law, would be devastating to physicians and safety net hospitals and will increase liability for businesses and municipalities in New York.

“The people of New York deserve the best possible healthcare. New York trains the highest number of trainees, but they leave NY because the environment for medical practice is challenging, said MSSNY President Dr. Parag Mehta. “MSSNY is willing to discuss with all who are interested in our common goals and offer its expertise to find ways to improve our healthcare system and healthcare delivery.”

Physicians have been heroes, especially during the Covid pandemic, and many physicians lost their lives fighting the Covid crisis. “They faced the Covid crisis with courage and compassion, said Dr. Mehta. “Healthcare heroes are facing a new crisis today: the potential increase in their liability premium by 40-45% if the wrongful death bill becomes effective. We urge Governor Hochul to veto this bill.”

Dr. Gupta has been serving the Brooklyn Community for the last 45 years. He has been actively involved in Organized Medical Societies leadership at the Kings County and New York state Medical Society level for a long time. Through innovative research exploring the links between gastrointestinal and neurological diseases, Dr. Gupta has made his mark upon medical literature. In addition to his many contributions to peer review journals, he has co-authored chapters in many medical textbooks. As a researcher dedicated to the detection, prevention and treatment of GI disorders including cancer, he has been recognized and awarded numerous teaching awards. He has been on the TOP DOCTORS list of Castle Connolly for more than twenty years, consecutively and also has been designated as SUPER DOC by New York Times magazine for three years. 

The Medical Society of the County of Kings (MSCK), the oldest scientific organization in Brooklyn, New York was established on March 2nd, 1822 by a group of doctors gathered at Auld Lang Syne Tavern on Fulton Street in Brooklyn Heights, with the lofty mission  “to foster progress in the science and art of medicine and to promote, preserve and enforce the highest of standards of ethical and proficient medical care”. In 1900, the Society opened its grand new colonial revival building at 1313 Bedford Avenue, the geographical center of Brooklyn and It was headquartered there until 1996.

The Society had hosted numerous Scientific Conferences at the McNaughton Auditorium where local, national, and international luminaries in medicine presented important and often original scientific works. The Medical Society grew exponentially to more than 3,500 members by the mid-20th century and according to the Directing Librarian for the Society, for some time boasted as the 5th largest medical library in the country.

Indian Nurses Association Of New York Receives Grant To Fight Anti Asian Hate

The Indian Nurses Association of New York (INANI), the voice and representative organization of Indian professional nurses in New York State, has received a grant from New York State for its work against discrimination and hatred against Asian Americans.  The grant amount is ten thousand dollars. The INANY leadership is proud stand behind this grant as a recognition and acknowledgment of the services this professional organization of nurses has rendered over the years and its ability to effectively influence the communities it represent.

Asians in America have been subjected to a great deal of discrimination and hate violence since the start of the Covid pandemic.  Similarly, the University of Southern California’s Center for Economic and Social Research’s Understanding Coronavirus in America survey reports that Asians experience mental illness at a higher level than other social groups consequent to the beginning of the pandemic.

A recent survey by Pew Research Center finds that 63 per cent of Asian Americans say that violence against Asian Americans in the US is increasing.  Dr. Anna George, the Association’s current president said “At a time when there is a need to take evidence-based measures to alleviate this problem or address the hate, violence, and discrimination experienced by Asian Americans and Asian immigrants, INANY is ready to step forward in partnership with other community service organizations of interest”.

About 2.1 million, about 11 per cent of New York State’s population are Asian Americans.   It is nicknamed the ‘model minority’ because it generally stands ahead of all other social groups due to educational attainment, socioeconomic success, representation in managerial and professional occupations and household income.

The stereotype has also created consequences.  The poor and helpless are often ignored, misunderstood or left unaccounted for.   The reality is that those who suffer from poverty, linguistic isolation and overcrowded housing are invisible behind the big headline of ‘model minority’.   The Asian American Pacific Islander Community Fund is included in the New York State budget to address this plight.

Dr. George explained that the project of INANY Grant will be implemented in collaboration with the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families.   A committee of professional nursing leaders including Dr. Soleymole Kuruvilla, Dr. Shyla Roshin, Paul D Panakal, Dr. Ani Jacob, Grace Alexander, Aleyamma Appukkuttan, Jessy James,  Jincy Chacko and Dr. George who have rendered selfless services in the society has been formed for the project.  She emphasized that the project will have completed its implementation in March 2023.

Physician Burnout Up Significantly Since Beginning Of COVID-19 Pandemic

Burnout was a significant problem for doctors and other health care workers (HCWs) even before the arrival of COVID-19. Now a new study reveals just how much worse the pandemic has made it.

Researchers surveyed more than 107,000 HCWs across a wide range of health care-related occupations in 2019, 2020 and 2021-22 to measure and compare both individual levels of emotional exhaustion (EE) and workers’ perception of EE among their colleagues. They found that the overall EE rate among HCWs jumped from 31.8% in 2019 to 40.4% in 2021-22. The increase in individuals’ perception of EE among others—what the authors call the emotional exhaustion climate—was from 54% to 65%.

Perhaps surprisingly, EE among the three categories of physicians studied—residents, attending/staff physicians and physicians not working in a hospital–remained the same or declined between 2019 and 2020 a result the authors attribute to decreases in patient volume and the flexibility offered by telehealth resulting from the pandemic.

But the situation reversed dramatically in the following years, so that by 2021-22 the percentage of residents reporting EE had increased from 24.6% to 34.4%, from 33.4% to 40.1% among attending/staff physicians, and 29% to 34.6% among doctors not working for a hospital. These were, the authors say, “the largest single-year increases reported by any roles across any time frame, exceeding what was found during a three-year period when EHRs were introduced nationally.”

Among non-physicians, the largest growth in EE—from 27% to 39%–was among physical, occupational and speech therapists. Other occupations seeing significant increases included technologists (32% to 43%), technicians (33% to 42%), administrative support staff (29% to 38%), and nurses (40.6% to 49.2%).

Based on their findings and those of other studies, the authors call HCW burnout a “parallel pandemic that will be felt for many years to come.” Addressing it, they say, will require focusing on HCW well-being using both institutional and individual resources. Moreover, those resources need to be evidence-based and accessible to all employees, and their use must be role-modeled by organizational and institutional leaders.

The study, “Emotional Exhaustion Among U.S. Health Care Workers Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2019-2021” was published September 21 on JAMA Network Open.

(https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/senator-moves-to-end-covid-19-pandemic-national-emergency)

MSCK And MSSNY Hold Joint Legislative Meeting In Brooklyn

The Medical Society of the County of Kings (MSCK) and The Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) held a joint legislative meeting at Brooklyn Borough Hall on September 15, 2022. Attendees included guest of honor Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso,Chairman of Health Committee, NY Senator Gustavo Rivera,  NY Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman, NY Assemblyman Michael Tannousis and NY Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz.

MSCK President Dr. Jagdish Gupta began the evening by welcoming the participants and presenting a unique opportunity for them to engage in dialogue with elected representatives.In introducing NYS Senator Hon. Gustavo Rivera, Dr. Gupta said: “Senator Rivera has made it his duty to fight the long-standing health inequalities in our communities.”

Dr. Gupta thanked the Senator for his committee’s support on the following legislation:
• Telehealth payment parity
• Extension of the Excess Medical Malpractice Insurance Program
• Increasing Medicaid Payments by Restoring Medicaid Cuts of 1.5 % of 2020 and
increasing Medicaid Physician Payment for E&M services to 70% of Medicare.
• Providing 75% increase in Loan Repayment Program to Physician Students
He went on to thank him for his efforts in passing the following:
• Requirements for same specialty Peer Review process by Health Plans
• Prohibiting Health insurers from Preventing patients from using Co-Pay cards or
Coupons
• Preventing Health insurers from imposing Step Therapy or Fail First Protocols
• For lowering the age of screening colonoscopy to age 45 years
• Providing additional due process protection to Healthcare Providers audited by OMIG

Dr. Gupta stressed that the Wrongful Death Liability Expansion Bill, if enacted into law, would be devastating to physicians and safety net hospitals and will increase liability for businesses and municipalities in New York.

“The people of New York deserve the best possible healthcare. New York trains the highest number of trainees, but they leave NY because the environment for medical practice is challenging, said MSSNY President Dr. Parag Mehta. “MSSNY is willing to discuss with all who are interested in our common goals and offer its expertise to find ways to improve our healthcare system and healthcare delivery.”

Physicians have been heroes, especially during the Covid pandemic, and many physicians lost their lives fighting the Covid crisis. “They faced the Covid crisis with courage and compassion, said Dr. Mehta. “Healthcare heroes are facing a new crisis today: the potential increase in their liability premium by 40-45% if the wrongful death bill becomes effective. We urge Governor Hochul to veto this bill.”

Dr. Gupta has been serving the Brooklyn Community for the last 45 years. He has been actively involved in Organized Medical Societies leadership at the Kings County and New York state Medical Society level for a long time. Through innovative research exploring the links between gastrointestinal and neurological diseases, Dr. Gupta has made his mark upon medical literature. In addition to his many contributions to peer review journals, he has co-authored chapters in many medical textbooks. As a researcher dedicated to the detection, prevention and treatment of GI disorders including cancer, he has been recognized and awarded numerous teaching awards. He has been on the TOP DOCTORS list of Castle Connolly for more than twenty years, consecutively and also has been designated as SUPER DOC by New York Times magazine for three years.

The Medical Society of the County of Kings (MSCK), the oldest scientific organization in Brooklyn, New York was established on March 2nd, 1822 by a group of doctors gathered at Auld Lang Syne Tavern on Fulton Street in Brooklyn Heights, with the lofty mission  “to foster progress in the science and art of medicine and to promote, preserve and enforce the highest of standards of ethical and proficient medical care”. In 1900, the Society opened its grand new colonial revival building at 1313 Bedford Avenue, the geographical center of Brooklyn and It was headquartered there until 1996.

The Society had hosted numerous Scientific Conferences at the McNaughton Auditorium where local, national, and international luminaries in medicine presented important and often original scientific works. The Medical Society grew exponentially to more than 3,500 members by the mid-20th century and according to the Directing Librarian for the Society, for some time boasted as the 5th largest medical library in the country.

Captions for the pictures:

Picture #1 Title: With Assembly Persons

Captions from Left to right: Lisa Eng DO, Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman, Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, Medical Society President Jagdish K Gupta, MD and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz.

Picture # 2 Title: Panel-1

Captions from Left to right: MSCK President Jagdish K. Gupta MD, Health Committee Chairman Senator Gustavo Rivera, MSSNY President Parag Mehta MD, Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, Lisa Eng DO (Standing)

Picture #3 Title Group Picture

At AAPI’s 75th India Independence Day On Capitol Hill, Key US Lawmakers Advocate For Stronger India-US Ties

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) organized the 75th Anniversary of the Independence of India/Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022, where key US Senators and Congressmen participated and stressed the need to strengthen Indo-US relationship and praised the contributions and achievements of Physicians of Indian Origin and the larger Indian American community.

A strong India means a strong US, influential US lawmakers from both sides of the aisle said, as they pledged to work towards strengthening the relationship between the two largest democratic countries of the world at a time when the world is undergoing several changes and facing numerous challenges. Attended by dozens of leaders of AAPI and several community leaders, a first of its kind, the India Day on Capitol Hill was a celebration of India as a nation that is a model and strong democracy and a fast-growing economy that has taken a central place on world stage.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Chair of AAPI Legislative Committee, who has played a lead role in organizing the India Day celebrations on Capitol Hill said, Indian-Americans have a key role to play in the India-US relationship. “It is a proud moment for every Indian, living in every part of the world to see the progress that our motherland has achieved since its independence 75 years ago.” Dr. Shivangi, a member of the National Advisory Council, Center for National Mental Health Services referred to India which has now become the fifth largest economic superpower in the world even surpassing India’s Colonial Masters, the UK, France, and Germany.

Quoting a White House Press Release last month, Dr. Shivangi said, “The QUAD agreement is a testimony of this the role for the promotion of human freedom and dignity, and ways to restrain the Chinese expansionism that is not respecting international laws, friendships, and relationships. “The United States sees India as an indispensable partner and confident in a relationship the two countries are pursuing their own national interests in Ukraine. The US-India strategic partnership is grounded in their commitments to the advancement of the free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

In his welcome address, Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI, “India @ 75! It is a milestone filled with feelings of sense of pride and joy for all the accomplishments and progress we have made, while preserving our integrity, unity, core values of freedoms, democracy and respect for diverse cultures and the groups that live and thrive in our beloved motherland. India has made great strides in various sectors of economy lifting over 270 million out of poverty in the past decade or so.

Referring to the unprecedented growth of India, Dr. Kolli said,  “It is the 5th largest economy in the world. In 1947 Maternal Mortality Rate was 2,000 for 100,000 births and Infant Mortality rate was 150 and now MMR is 150 and IMR is 27.6 in 2021. In the higher education sector India now has 1,043 universities and 42,000 colleges vs 27 universities and 578 colleges in 1950 and literacy rate is close to 75 % now as opposed to 20% in 1950. The number of medical colleges grew from mere 28 in 1950 to over 612 now in 2022. These accomplishments by themselves are worthy of a grand celebration, but India accomplished all this progress as a thriving democracy, with its steadfast commitment to freedoms with equity and inclusion of all faiths and creeds is a remarkable success story to be cherished and shared. We are proud to be part of this historic celebration of India on Capitol Hill, where we will have an opportunity to exchange views and express our concerns with the dozens of US Lawmakers, who will come to be part of the celebrations.”

“I am here today to say, thank you, from the bottom of my heart,” Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat said. Recalling his visits to India, he said, he saw in action “the greatness of the largest democracy in the world in full action.”  While lauding the contributions of physicians of Indian Origin, “Had it not been for the Indian community that came to West Virginia to provide their services, most of rural West Virginia would not have health care today.” While observing that a major section of healthcare service in the rural US is provided by Indian American Doctors.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican Senator representing the state of Mississippi stressed the importance of having strong relations between India and the United States. “The relationship between the United States and India is mutually beneficial for both of the countries and not just in the field of medicine and technology,” she said.

Senator Shelley Capito from West Virginia noted how the Indian American community is playing a key role in enriching the cultural experience of her state. “I live in Charleston, West Virginia, a small rural state. If we did not have any Indian American doctors, we would not have any kind of quality healthcare, we would not have the breadth and the depth and the richness of our communities that we have,” she said.

India’s Ambassador to the US Hon. Taranjit Singh, in his keynote address said that there is a close connection between the two countries and today it is driven by the leadership of the two largest democracies of the world. Indian American doctors have an especially key role to play in the India-US relationship, Sandhu said. “India today is one of the fastest-growing, major, emerging economies in the world,” he said. “We have such a vibrant and dynamic Indian American community represented in this country. The success of the Indian American community as professionals – doctors, technocrats, scientists and, entrepreneurs, has been an inspiration to many of us in India. And today, support of this community is vital to us” in forging a much stronger relationship with the US.

India and United States enjoy a comprehensive global strategic partnership covering almost all areas of human endeavor, driven by shared democratic values, convergence of interests on a range of issues, and vibrant people-to-people contacts, he said. Referring to the fact that within one month’s period, more than half a dozen senior Indian Ministers are visiting the US and a similar visit would happen from the US to India, he said. “This is a reflection of the relationship between India and the United States,” he pointed out.

Congressman Joe Wilson, a GOP lawmaker and co-chair of Indian Caucus in Congress, shared about his fond memories with India, going back to the days when his dad served in India during the World War. India and America – nations which respect individuals, freedom, human dignity, private property, and believe in free markets – have the potential to build on shared values, he said. “India has a major role to play in world peace, stabilizing world,” he added.

Rep. Michael Guest from Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, said, “We are so blessed to have you. I want to thank you for coming to the US from a great civilization.” Lauding the great contributions of AAPI fraternity, he said, “You reach out to when people are in crisis. You put yourself in arms way to serve your fellowmen, to serve others, especially during Covid.” Describing Indo-US partnership as “strategic relationship” the Congressman said, “We work together to protect freedom and democracies. We work together for the greater good of humanity.”

Indian American Congressman Ro Khanna from the California said, “US India relationship is more critical than ever for the world.” He said, “India should not be subject to (CAATSA) sanctions because of its historic relationship with Russia.” Praising the recent messaging of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Russian leadership, Khanna said India can play a critical role in a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian conflict. He referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met Vladimir Putin last week on the sidelines of the 22nd meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand, had told the Russian leader that “today’s era is not of war.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the first and only Indian-American woman in the US Congress, said India and the US, despite being a world apart, have shared a very unique and important relationship over the years. India and the US have made tremendous strides in the promotion of public health. With the help of more than USD 200 million in aid from the US, India surpassed an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19 by administering two billion doses of vaccines, the second most of any country in the world, she said.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said the Indian American community needs to make its presence known. Imploring more Indian Americans to run for office, Krishnamoorthi told the Capitol Hill gathering, “If you are not at the table, you will be on the menu.” India, he said, has done a lot in the last 75 years. “I want to talk a little bit about its (India’s) greatest export. Its greatest export is you – Indian Americans who are four million strong. They are the fastest-growing ethnic minority in America. They are the most prosperous ethnic minority and the most well educated.”

Congressman Ted Deutch said, India and the US are strategic partners and Indian Americans are the key assets in the India-US relationship. “We are not only strategic partners, but we are friends,” he said. Referring to the NRI community, he said, “This is the group in the US, of all the ethnic groups, with the highest income and the highest level of education.”

U.S. Congressman Pat Fallon (TX-04), who had attended both the Capitol Hill event as well as at the Embassy Reception compared India and the United States, as both have gained independence from Britain. Both are today the greatest democracies of the world, he said and added that India at 75th anniversary of Independence Day is doing better and greater than how the US did at its 75th anniversary. Lauding the contributions of Indian American Physicians and the larger Indian American community Rep. Fallon highlighted the strong and strategic relationship the United States and India have, that benefits not only the two nations, but the entire world.

“Indian American physicians have made vital contributions to the health care field,” said Dr. Kishore Challa, Co-Chair of AAPI’s Legislative Committee. “As physicians, we provide critical care to patients from rural & urban communities across the Country. Indian American doctors are playing a critical role in filling the nationwide physician shortage. The India Day on Capitol Hill is a unique opportunity for AAPI members to be part of the decision-making process on matters related to healthcare and advocate for stronger and closer ties between India and the United States.”

Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI said, “AAPI has been serving India and contributing to the effective healthcare delivery in the US and in India. In keeping with the mission of AAPI, the celebrations on the Hill provided us with a forum to facilitate and enable Indian American physicians share our concerns with the Lawmakers in pursuit of our aspirations in matters relating to professional and community affairs.”

“The historic 75th India Independence Day celebrations on Capitol Hill was an effective Forum to help renew our friendship with US administration under the leadership of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and brief the Congressional leaders on issues that are important to us,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI.

“AAPI’s India Day celebrations on Capitol Hill helped members rekindle and renew our energy in bringing up the issues to the attention of national policymakers and leaders of the US Congress on Capitol Hill,” said Dr. Sumul Rawal, Treasurer of AAPI.

A reception and dinner hosted by Honorable Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the United States, with several dignitaries at the Indian Embassy was the grand finale to the day-long event at the nation’s capital. India and United States enjoy a comprehensive global strategic partnership covering almost all areas of human endeavor, driven by shared democratic values, convergence of interests on a range of issues, and vibrant people-to-people contacts. “The relationship is very strong,” noting India and the US are connected in culture, democratic traditions, entrepreneurship, and innovation. “And we are connected because the Indian American community in the US is so very strong,” Ambassador Sandhu told an enthusiastic audience said.

In his vote of thanks, Dr. Ravi Kolli expressed gratitude to Dr. Sampath Shivangi, for organizing the event and bringing powerful senators and Congress Members and giving a forum and opportunity for AAPI members to participate in conversations with them. “Both the Senators form Mississippi referring him as the ‘Rockstar of Mississippi’ is the true reflection of his leadership and contributions at the national level.” He said. “I deeply appreciate Dr. Kishore Challa for personally arranging for both the Senators of WV to attend, both of them spoke so highly of Dr. Challa and his leadership in healthcare matters in the state of West Virginia and nationally and how he was instrumental in making Telemedicine Audio Service approved by Federal Agencies during the pandemic.”

“AAPI has been seeking to collectively shape the best health care for everyone in the US, with the physicians at the helm, caring for the medically underserved as we have done for several decades when physicians of Indian origin came to the US in larger numbers,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli. For more information on AAPI and its several noble initiatives benefitting AAPI members and the larger society, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Indian Nurses Association Of New York Receives Grant To Fight Anti Asian Hate

By, Paul Panakal

The Indian Nurses Association of New York (INANI), the voice and representative organization of Indian professional nurses in New York State, has received a grant from New York State for its work against discrimination and hatred against Asian Americans.  The grant amount is ten thousand dollars. The INANY leadership is proud stand behind this grant as a recognition and acknowledgment of the services this professional organization of nurses has rendered over the years and its ability to effectively influence the communities it represent. 

Asians in America have been subjected to a great deal of discrimination and hate violence since the start of the Covid pandemic.  Similarly, the University of Southern California’s Center for Economic and Social Research’s Understanding Coronavirus in America survey reports that Asians experience mental illness at a higher level than other social groups consequent to the beginning of the pandemic.  

A recent survey by Pew Research Center finds that 63 per cent of Asian Americans say that violence against Asian Americans in the US is increasing.  Dr. Anna George, the Association’s current president said “At a time when there is a need to take evidence-based measures to alleviate this problem or address the hate, violence, and discrimination experienced by Asian Americans and Asian immigrants, INANY is ready to step forward in partnership with other community service organizations of interest”. 

About 2.1 million, about 11 per cent of New York State’s population are Asian Americans.   It is nicknamed the ‘model minority’ because it generally stands ahead of all other social groups due to educational attainment, socioeconomic success, representation in managerial and professional occupations and household income.  

The stereotype has also created consequences.  The poor and helpless are often ignored, misunderstood or left unaccounted for.   The reality is that those who suffer from poverty, linguistic isolation and overcrowded housing are invisible behind the big headline of ‘model minority’.   The Asian American Pacific Islander Community Fund is included in the New York State budget to address this plight. 

Dr. George explained that the project of INANY Grant will be implemented in collaboration with the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families.   A committee of professional nursing leaders including Dr. Soleymole Kuruvilla, Dr. Shyla Roshin, Paul D Panakal, Dr. Ani Jacob, Grace Alexander, Aleyamma Appukkuttan, Jessy James,  Jincy Chacko and Dr. George who have rendered selfless services in the society has been formed for the project.  She emphasized that the project will have completed its implementation in March 2023.

AAPI Observes World Suicide Prevention Day, Educating Members on Causes, Trends, Warning Signs, Treatment, & Ways to Prevent Suicide

Suicide, especially among children and adolescents is a growing phenomenon of concern and the numbers tell a shocking story. Every 40 seconds someone takes their own life according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Bringing awareness on this critical issue, September 10th is being observed each year as World Suicide Prevention Day across the world.

Observing World Suicide Prevention Day, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) organized a live online seminar on “Treating Depression in Children and Adolescents in Primary Care” on September 10th, 2022. Attended by a record number of physicians from around the nation, the online seminar was led by Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI and a Board-Certified Psychiatrist from Pittsburgh, PA.

Dr. Kolli set the context for the Webinar, by drawing the attention of the AAPI members to the prevalence of suicidality among people of all walks across the United States. “Nationally in 2020, there was approximately one death by suicide every 11 minutes. In the same year, for people aged 10–14 and 25–34 years, suicide was the second leading cause of death. From April 2020 to 2021 over 100,000 people died of drug overdose alone,” Dr. Kolli said. “Over 44,000 people die by suicide annually. As many as 123 people die by suicide every day. Over 1.3 million people attempt suicide each year, and suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all age groups,” Dr. Kolli pointed out.

Mental health issues like depression are known to be the leading cause for attempting suicide. Suicide often occurs in a moment of unbearable pain or deep despair. Millions of Americans consider suicide, make a suicide plan, or attempt suicide every year – especially young Americans for whom suicide is the second leading cause of death.

“By drawing attention to the problem of suicide in the United States, the suicide prevention campaign also strives to reduce the stigma surrounding the topic, as well as encourage the pursuit of mental health assistance and support people who have attempted suicide,” Dr. Kolli, a board-certified psychiatrist told the AAPI members. “With the objective of strengthening and expanding the Lifeline infrastructure to respond to crisis calls, texts, and chats anytime and establishing a system that provides more opportunities for crisis service, the Federal Government has initiated the soft launch of Emergency Suicide Prevention Number, 988, transitioning from 1-800-273-TALK to 988,” Dr. Kolli pointed out. Dr. Kolli educated the participants on ways to respond to crisis and talked about the impact from “Reaction vs. Response.”

Dr. Malti Mehta, a member of AAPI BOD and a moderator of the session, stressed the importance of understanding how from inception onwards, the family dynamics contributes to depression and suicidality among children, especially among children of Indian heritage. “Let us work together with our family, friends, healthcare workers, religious and political leaders to prevent suicide through active counseling and support. It is time we empowered others to be in charge of their lives and value the one life they have.”

In her eloquent and comprehensive presentation on “Treating Depression in Children and Adolescents in Primary Care” Dr. Aparna Vuppala, Medical Director, SPEAK project of       HHF -Huntsville Hospital Foundation and a Psychiatrist from Huntsville, AL educated the audience on: the prevalence of suicide in children; Criteria for depressive disorders in children; Etiology and stressors worsening depression; Screening u Differential Diagnosis and comorbidity; Suicide prevention measures; Non-pharmacologic Treatment and Pharmacologic Treatment available today.

“In 2011, for the first time in 20 years in the US, more teens died from suicide than homicide,” Dr. Vuppala pointed out. “In 2017, the suicide rate was more than twice the homicide rate. In 2018, Suicide has become the second leading cause of death in 10–24-year-old children.”  Dr. Vuppala shared with the audience her own experiences in efforts to prevent suicide among school-going kids in Alabama. “The mayor’s office has recognized our efforts, providing funds for the program,” she said. She offered her team’s services to other parts of the nation.

Addressing the challenges of Pediatric Depression, Dr. Vuppala said, “Most depression research has been done on adults. Childhood depression is not necessarily the same illness as adult depression. We use the same DSM-V criteria as for adults. Childhood emotional instability is a challenge to understand and treat. AAP Guidelines recommend screening all youth 12 years and older for depression.”

Educating the parents about the consequences of untreated depression with the need for treatment compliance, she said. It is possible that 9 out of 10 kids are likely to share their issues with someone close to them or express their views on social media. Identifying them and recognizing them in advance is a sure way to prevent suicidality, Dr. Vuppala said.

She recommended that “parents must ask directly and matter-of-factly about suicide with children. Do not underestimate the threat of suicide or invalidate feelings. Do not be judgmental. Do not argue or debate if suicide is right or wrong. Do not say that their pain/stressor is not a serious enough reason. Do not lecture on the value of life. DO NOT be sworn to secrecy.” Among other things, she stressed the need for a minimum of 8.5 hours of sleep at night and limiting screen time with less than 2 hrs./day of recreational screen time for school-age children, and less than 1 hr./day for 2-5 yrs. old children.

Referring to treatment modalities to address depression and suicidality, Dr. Vuppala highlighted the importance of individual psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps increase awareness of thoughts-emotions-behaviors and change thinking pattern. In addition to Parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) and medications to treat depression, she referred to Dialectical Behavior therapy (DBT) which has been found to be helpful in preventing SI/self-harm by offering techniques to cope healthily with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with others. Mindfulness has been found to a way for compassion and being grateful, while pet therapy and nature therapy are found to be useful.

During the interactive session, Dr. Kolli and Dr. Vuppala shared their insights on how “mindfulness and meditation” have contributed to stress reduction and prevent suicidality. Research on meditation and mindfulness has been shown to improve holistic person. Spirituality is found to be a valuable resource in combating loneliness and depression, Dr. Vuppala said.

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI,) the largest ethnic organization in the United States, representing nearly 120,000 physicians and Fellows of Indian origin in the United States. For more details on AAPI and its programs, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter Of AAPI In Partnership With Red Cross Plans 2nd Blood Drive

The NORTHEASTERN Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in partnership with the local Red Cross has planned to organize its 2nd Community Blood Donation Drive at the Training Room, 256 North Sherman Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702 on Monday, September 26, 2022 from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Dr. Dipti Pancholy Founding President NEPA-AAPI, said, “After the first ever Blood Drive held in Dember last year, we are excited to organize our 2nd Blood Drive in fulfilling our mission, which is to improve quality, access and delivery of health care by creating an environment of professionalism, and rewarding service as well as merit in Northeastern PA and globally.”  Excited about the very positive and encouraging support from the community for the 1st ever Blood Drive, Dr. Pancholi had said, “We plan to conduct future blood drives in the 11 counties that north eastern Pennsylvania.”

Dr. Pancholi praised the efforts and contributions of her Team members, who are working towards the success of the Blood Drive by meticulously planning the event on Sep 26th, including, Dr. Kishori Veerabhadrappa, a Hematologist by profession and the Coordinator of Blood Drive for NEPA-AAPI; Dr.  Sanketkumar Dalwadi, Chairperson of Community Service Committee; Dr. Sandhya Desai, Secretary NEPA AAPI; Ms. Judy McGovern, Red Cross Volunteer; and, Ms. Heidi Deleo Lackawanna, County Red Cross Director for their generous support in helping organize the highly successful event.

“I am looking forward to the dozens of local AAPI Chapters, and the newly formed NEPA AAPI Chapter  for initiating and organizing the Blood Donation Drives and Stem Cell Registration across the nation, in honor of the Fallen Heroes of Covid-19, and as India is celebrating 75 years of our Independence, AAPI has taken  this initiative to do National AAPI Blood Donation Drives in 75 cities,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI,) the largest ethnic organization in the United States.

“Well done, Dr.  Dipti Pancholi and NEPA AAPI team. So glad you all are an integral part of our AAPI team. AAPI has launched 75 city blood donation drive. It only takes 15 minutes of one’s time and each pint of blood can save 3 lives. So let us all be the heroes and life savers. We all are one humanity and one family, Vasudhaiva Kutubakam,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli added.

Each blood component of whole blood transfusion can help up to three different people. Pointing to the fact that Blood cannot be manufactured despite medical and technological advances. The only way we can give blood to those who need it is through donation. It doesn’t cost us anything to donate but your donation saves lives. Blood is needed every two seconds, said Dr. Meher Medavaram, Chair of the national blood donation drive.

NEPA-AAPI is a newly formed, nonprofit association of physicians and dentists in the 11 counties of northeastern Pennsylvania and a chapter of the American Association of Physician of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic physician organization in the United States

To join the Blood DSrive and Donate Life saving Blood to people who need, please Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit RedCrossBlood.org and enter: NEPA APIO to schedule an appointment.

Streamline your donation experience and save up to 15 minutes by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass to complete your pre-donation reading and health history
questions on the day of your appointment. You may download the Blood Donor App today. Get your digital donor card, schedule your next appointment, track your lifetime donations, view your blood pressure, and follow your donation on its way to a hospital.

“We are grateful to Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (NEPA AAPI) for participating in a national initiative of AAPI that has initiated and organized Blood Donation Drives across the United States, in honor of Fallen Heroes of Covid-19,” said Dr. Pancholy. For more details on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa,org

End Of Covid-19 Pandemic Is In Sight, WHO Director-General Says, ‘So Let’s Seize This Opportunity’

The world has never been in a better position to end the Covid-19 pandemic, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said in a news briefing in Geneva on Wednesday.

“Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from Covid-19 was the lowest since March 2020,” he said. “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We’re not there yet, but the end is in sight.

“A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view; she runs harder with all the energy she has left,” Tedros said. “So must we. We can see the finish line, we are in a winning position, but now is the worst time to stop running. Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap the rewards of all our hard work.”

There is still a risk of more variants, deaths, disruption and uncertainty, he said, “so let’s seize this opportunity.”

WHO released six policy briefs Wednesday that outline key actions for governments to take to end the pandemic. The briefs are based on the evidence and experience of the past 32 months and offer guidance on how to save lives, protect health systems and avoid social and economic disruption. They are “an urgent call for governments to take a hard look at their policies and strengthen them for Covid-19 and future pathogens with pandemic potential,” Tedros said.

Although official case counts have become significantly underreported, trends have shown a steady drop in cases both globally and in the US.

According to latest WHO update, weekly case counts are falling in all regions, with an overall fall of 28% compared to a week before. And in the United States, cases have been steadily dropping for the past two months, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

WHO’s weekly epidemological update said that there were just over 11,000 fatalities reported between September 5 and 11, a 22% decrease compared with the week before.

Decreases were reported in five of the WHO regions: 31% in the European Region, 25% in the South-East Asia Region, 22% in the Region of the Americas, 11% in the Western Pacific Region and 10% in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. There was a 10% increase in deaths in the African Region.

The United States reported the highest number of weekly deaths followed by Japan, Russia, Brazil and the Philippines.

Overall, there have been more than 6.4 million deaths reported globally as of September 11.

About two-thirds of the global population – and about the same in the US, specifically – are vaccinated with at least their initial series. But significant disparities in Covid-19 vaccination rates persist among lower-income countries, and rates are changing little now, especially in the US.

Forecasts published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that new hospitalizations and deaths will hold steady for the next month.

Tej Kohli And Ruit Foundation Cures 17,289 People Of Blindness

The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation, a non-profit funded by Indian born British billionaire, Tej Kohli, has successfully cured 17,289 people from remote and underserved communities of cataract blindness. The London-based organization is co-founded by Nepal-born Dr. Sanduk Ruit, famously known as the ‘God of Sight’ for curing thousands of people from blindness and becoming one of the most respected eye surgeons in the world.

he lockdowns of 2021 saw the beginning of a remarkable partnership between two sexagenarians who are bringing social and economic change to the most deprived communities in the developing world.

Tej Kohli and Dr Sanduk Ruit may live 4,582 miles away from each other, in Europe and Southern Asia, but distance has proven no barrier to them in co-founding a charity that is transforming communities by curing blindness.

Since its launch, the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation has screened 63,257 patients and cured 5,335 people of blindness, mostly in Nepal, in a series of microsurgical outreach camps.

In 2022 Tej Kohli and Dr Sanduk Ruit will scale up their activities by taking free treatments into poor and remote communities in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Pakistan, Indonesia, Laos and Bhutan.

Indian Scientist Leads Groundbreaking Research On Alzheimer’s Disease

A new study led by a neuroscientist from the Centre for Brain Research at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) reveals cells that span brain hemispheres to coordinate activity in visual processing centres, and shows that Alzheimer’s degrades their structure and therefore their function.

The results of the study, published in Neuron by a research team based at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory in Cambridge, MA, come from experiments in mice, but provide a physiological and mechanistic basis for prior observations in human patients: the degree of diminished brain rhythm synchrony between counterpart regions in each hemisphere correlates with the clinical severity of dementia.

“We demonstrate that there is a functional circuit that can explain this phenomenon,” said lead author Chinnakkaruppan Adaikkan, a former Picower Institute postdoc who is now an assistant professor in the Centre for Brain Research at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore. “In a way, we uncovered a fundamental biology that was not known before.”

Specifically, Adaikkan’s work identified neurons that connect the primary visual cortex (V1) of each hemisphere and showed that when the cells are disrupted, either by genetic alterations that model Alzheimer’s disease or by direct laboratory perturbations, brain rhythm synchrony becomes reduced and mice become significantly less able to notice when a new pattern appeared on a wall in their enclosures. Such recognition of novelty, which requires visual memory of what was there the prior day, is an ability commonly disrupted in Alzheimer’s.

“This study demonstrates the propagation of gamma rhythm synchrony across the brain hemispheres via the cross hemispheric connectivity,” said study senior author Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor and director of The Picower Institute and MIT’s Aging Brain Initiative. “It also demonstrates that the disruption of this circuit in AD mouse models is associated with specific behavioral deficits.”

In the study, Adaikkan, Tsai, Thomas McHugh and co-authors discovered and traced V1 neurons that extended their axons all the way through the corpus callosum, which connects the brain’s hemispheres, to cells in the V1 on the brain’s other side. There, they found, the cross-hemispheric (CH) neurons forged connections, or synapses, with target cells, providing them with “excitatory” stimulation to drive their activity.

Adaikkan also found that CH neurons were much more likely to be activated by a novelty discrimination task than V1 neurons in general or neurons in other regions heavily involved in memory such as the hippocampus or the prefrontal cortex.

Curious about how this might differ in Alzheimer’s disease, the team looked at the activity of the cells in two different Alzheimer’s mouse models. The found that CH cell activity was significantly lessened amid the disease. Unsurprisingly, Alzheimer’s mice fared much poorer in novelty discrimination tasks.

The team examined the CH cells closely and found that they gather incoming input from a variety of other cells within their V1 and other regions in their hemisphere that process visual information. When they compared the incoming connections of healthy CH neurons to those in CH cells afflicted with Alzheimer’s, they found that cells in the disease condition had significantly less infrastructure for hosting incoming connections (measured in terms of synapse-hosting spines protruding from the vine-like dendrites that sprawl out of the cell body).

Given the observations correlating reduced brain rhythm synchrony and memory performance in Alzheimer’s, the team wondered if that occurred in the mice, too.

To find out, they custom-designed electrodes to measure rhythmic activity simultaneously in all cortical layers of each hemisphere’s V1. They observed that cross-hemispheric synchrony increased notably between the V1s when mice engaged in novelty discrimination but that the synchrony, both at high “gamma” and lower “theta” frequency rhythms, was significantly lower in the Alzheimer’s mice than it was in healthy mice.

Adaikkan’s evidence at that point was strong, but still only suggestive, that CH neurons provided the means by which the V1 regions on each side of the brain could coordinate to enable novelty discrimination, and that this ability became undermined by Alzheimer’s degradation of the CH cells’ connectivity. To more directly determine whether the CH circuit played such a causal, consequential role, the team directly intervened to disrupt them, testing what effect targeted perturbations had.

They found that chemically inhibiting CH cells disrupted rhythm synchrony between V1s, mirroring measures made in Alzheimer’s model mice. Moreover, disrupting CH activity undermined novelty discrimination ability. To further test whether it was the cells’ cross-hemispheric nature that mattered specifically, they engineered CH cells to be controllable with flashes of light (a technology called “optogenetics”). When they shined the light on the connections, they forged in the other hemisphere to inhibit those, they found that doing so again compromised visual discrimination ability.

All together, the study results show that CH cells in V1 connect with neurons in the counterpart area of the opposite hemisphere to synchronize neural activity needed for properly recognizing novelty, but that Alzheimer’s disease damages their ability to do that job.

Medicaid, CHIP Enrollment Process Streamlined

The Biden administration has proposed a new rule to overhaul the application and renewal process for Medicaid and other government programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), CMS announced. By simplifying enrollment and verification processes, CMS is aiming to make it easier for children, older adults, and people with lower income to both attain and retain Medicaid and CHIP coverage.

The federal agency is striving to make it easier for eligible people to enroll in and continue their Medicaid coverage. With the COVID-19 public health emergency slated to end on October 13, the proposed rule comes at a time when states are beginning to notify Medicaid beneficiaries about potentially losing coverage. The proposal includes standardizing eligibility and enrolment policies like limiting renewals to once every 12 months to allow applicants 30 days to respond to information requests.

It would also end lifetime benefit limits in CHIP, allowing children to enroll in coverage immediately by doing away with pre-enrollment waiting periods. Children’s eligibility would transfer directly from Medicaid to CHIP when a family’s income rises, preventing an unnecessary redetermination process.

For adults aged 65 and older, as well as those with a disability, the proposed rule would remove unnecessary administrative hurdles for individuals who are eligible for the government programs.

“This proposed rule will ensure that these individuals and families, often from underserved communities, can access the health care and coverage to which they are entitled – a foundational principle of health equity,” CMS administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement.

USA Today (8/31, Lee) reports HHS “aims to make enrolling in government health care programs easier for low-income kids,” people with disabilities, “and older adults by cutting red tape, according to a proposal announced Wednesday.” This proposed rule “takes steps to reduce the paperwork burden often associated with health care by streamlining applications and standardizing policies and requirements across states for Medicaid, Basic Health Programs and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.” If implemented, “2.81 million more people are projected to enroll in Medicaid over the next five years,” according to the agency.

Modern Healthcare (8/31, Goldman, Subscription Publication) reports among the policies included are “limiting eligibility checks to once every 12 months, requiring renewal forms to be pre-populated with certain information and establishing consistent processes across states,” as well as “measures to help qualified beneficiaries remain on the programs from year to year.”

Bananas Help In Weight Loss?

Banana is considered an anomaly in fruits, usually seen in the context of weight gain. The truth is far from it actually. Bananas are, in fact, a slimming superfood. If you are looking for a foolproof way to diminish hunger (minus weight gain) my advice is: Turn to a banana. First, it is a zero fat food and a medium banana contains less than 100 calories. Not bad at all! Plus, it helps to boost your metabolism and is loaded with Resistant Starch (RS), a kind of fibre that not just fills you up but keeps those damaging cravings away too. Slightly under ripe, firm, medium-sized bananas give you 4.7 grams of RS, perfect to keep you full for a long duration.

A banana has a lot going for it. Compare it to an apple – a banana has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three times the potassium, and twice the vitamin C, iron and phosphorus. And what’s more, a medium banana contains less than 100 calories. Again, not bad at all.

This fruit is rich in potassium – a mineral vital for nerve functions, for keeping the blood pressure down and promoting bone health. Potassium helps counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets typical of today’s times and prevents the bones from thinning out too fast, says nutritionist Kavita Devgan

By the way RS consumption is also associated with lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and better calcium and magnesium absorption in the body. This translates to stronger bones and a heartier heart. Small wonder then that the scientific term for banana is “musa sapientum”, meaning the fruit of the wise men.

The high fibre content of bananas keeps the digestion humming along, so beats constipation effectively, without resorting to laxatives. Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief. If had with a little salt, it effectively treats dysentery too. Banana delivers the phytochemcial fructo-oligosaccharides, which boosts the good bacteria in our colon and prevents the bad bacteria from overtaking them and producing toxic acids that can create health havoc. This compound also helps the body absorb important bone-strengthening nutrients like calcium and magnesium.

Feel good food

It’s a happy fruit too. It’s loaded with tryptophan, which gets converted into serotonin in the body. Serotonin is known to relax you, improve your mood and generally make you happier. In fact, low levels of serotonin are a known cause of mood disorders and depression. Bananas also rank as feel-good food due to the high levels of tyrosine they contain. It is a precursor to “happy” neurotransmitters – serotonin and dopamine.

Sleep aid

Trust me. Next time you have trouble falling asleep, go to the kitchen and grab a banana instead of reaching out for another sleeping pill. It is a perfect sleep-inducing food thanks to its high magnesium, potassium and tryptophan content. Banana helps the body produce the sleep hormone melatonin naturally, too, due to its high vitamin B 6 content.

Hangover cure

The banana is a perfect fix for hangovers. It helps settle the stomach and wards off nausea since it is a natural antacid. The high dose of potassium helps by replacing the lost potassium (You did go to the loo every 5 minutes last night, remember? Well, that not only dehydrated you, but also depleted the blood electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium). The lost magnesium replaced by that banana will help relax those pounding headaches by easing your distorted blood vessels too.

Don’t miss |What makes red meat an enemy of the heart? Does it increase your risk of heart disease?

Get going

Ever noticed why the banana is a hot favourite with all athletes? That’s because it contains three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose – combined with an extra-large dose of fibre, so it gives an instant boost along with sustained and substantial energy (that’s why you see so many top-level athletes munching on bananas during competitions). It also has high iron content, so has the ability to stimulate haemoglobin production in the bloodstream and keep fatigue away.

Did you know? Banana is a perfect ‘rescue recipe’ if you are trying to junk the cancer stick (cigarettes). The vitamins B6 and B12 and high potassium and magnesium found in it help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

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Beat asthma

Banana is one of the best sources of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) that plays a critical role in the production of molecules (ATP and cAMP), that have been shown to help relax bronchial smooth muscle tissue.

Keep your BP in check

It is rich in potassium – a mineral vital for nerve functions, for keeping the blood pressure down and promoting bone health. Potassium helps counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets typical of today’s times, and prevents the bones from thinning out too fast.

Chomp them cues

But if just biting into it is not really your idea of gastronomic delight… (maybe you find them a bit bland!), then just make “the banana” exciting. A banana for breakfast is a great idea. Take an oval dish and add a cup of cooked oats. Place one banana slice along each lengthwise edge of the dish. Top oats with a sauce of your choice and sprinkle some nuts on top. Or just make a smoothie with yoghurt or milk.

Reach for it in the late afternoon for a quick perk-me-up. Add to a fruit salad, or have it spiced up. Take a banana and make a slit in the skin to open it up. Drizzle in a mixture of 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon honey and ¼ teaspoon black salt. Eat straight off the peel.

Need a cooling snack? Try this: peel a banana and dip it in yogurt. Roll in crushed cereal and freeze. Then bite in.

Agreed a peanut butter and banana sandwich drizzled with honey is a commonplace idea (but heavenly yummy, everyone will have to agree) and more a meal than a snack if we look at how calorific it can get, but have you ever tried a banana roti roll? Simply take a roti, apply peanut butter, place a banana in the centre, roll it, cut into small discs and snack on it. Delicious!

Also try this banana ready in a jiffy dessert: Lightly drizzle oil in a skillet over medium heat. Arrange banana slices in a pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from heat and pour honey mixture (whisk together honey with some water) over the banana. Allow to cool and sprinkle with cinnamon. (Courtesy: Indian Express)

Professor Swathi Arur Named ‘Emerging Leader In Health And Medicine Scholar’

Indian-origin Swathi Arur, professor and deputy chair of Genetics at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has been selected as one of the 2022 Emerging Leaders in Health and Medicine Scholars by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

Arur is the first MD Anderson faculty member to be appointed to this prestigious group since its creation in 2016.

Her passion for health improvement was evident since her undergraduate days at the University of Delhi in 1991-1994, where she started a non-governmental organisation focused on providing better healthcare for children with HIV.

The ELHM program aims to increase the National Academy of Medicine’s involvement with exceptional early- to mid-career professionals in biomedical science, population health, health care, health policy and other related fields.

“We are thrilled that Dr Arur is being recognised by the National Academy of Medicine for both her contributions and extraordinary leadership in the life sciences,” said Peter Pisters, president of MD Anderson. “Her passion, expertise and foundational work in advancing cancer metastasis research are invaluable to our institution, and we applaud her selection as part of this exemplary group of scholars.”

The NAM Emerging Leaders Forum, to be held in Washington, DC on April 18-19, 2023, will allow these scholars to engage in interdisciplinary discussions among the nation’s rising leaders in health and medicine. ELHM Scholars also will contribute to shaping the priorities of NAM by focusing on pressing medical challenges, improving health policies and building equity for all.

“We do not inherit a perfect world. Instead, the world is more often a product of our actions and of what we pay forward and leave behind,” Arur said. “To be named an emerging leader is not only an honour, but it also gives me an opportunity to work with and learn from global leaders in health and medicine policy who constantly strive to make the world better.”

Arur has received numerous distinctions so far including, MD Anderson Presidential Scholar in 2016, Andrew Sabin Family Fellow in 2017, Distinguished Faculty Mentor in 2018, and 2022 Presidential Honoree for Education and Mentorship Advancement.

In 2020, Arur was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She currently serves on the board of directors and is chair of the Awards Committee for the Genetics Society of America.

She is a standing study member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Cellular, Molecular and Integrative Reproduction study section and an Editor at Development. She also is the co-chair and chair of the Gordon Research Conference in Developmental Biology in 2023 and 2025, respectively.

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NAM, founded in 1970, is an independent organisation of professionals that advises the entire scientific community on critical health issues.

The Emerging Leaders in Health and Medicine (ELHM) Program was started to increase the academy’s engagement with exceptional, interdisciplinary early- to mid-career professionals in biomedical science, population health, health care, health policy and other related fields.

Physicians Would Need Almost 27 Hours A Day To Provide Optimal Patient Care, Per New Study

In a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers found that in order to provide guideline-recommended care, a primary care physician would require nearly 26.7 hours per day.

The study was pioneered by Dr. Justin Porter, M.D., at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, and is titled “Revisiting the Time Needed to Provide Adult Primary Care.” The study looked at a hypothetical panel of 2500 patients, and what it would take to provide them guideline directed care (e.g. per The US Preventative Services Task Force guidelines). The studied categories included preventative care, in addition to chronic disease and acute care.

The results were jarring, indicating that there are literally not enough hours in the day for physicians to abide by all the recommendations that have been stipulated for “ideal patient care,” especially with the significant time challenges that actually exist in a real practice setting.

Dr. Porter explains: “There is this sort of disconnect between the care we’ve been trained to give and the constraints of a clinic workday […] We have an ever-increasing set of guidelines, but clinic slots have not increased proportionately.”

The practice of medicine is very different from the theoretical delivery of it. In real time practice, physicians are often bogged down with numerous tasks and inefficiencies that constantly distract their workflow. One of the biggest time investments is charting. For years, electronic health record (EHR) systems promised to hasten the charting process, providing physicians with the digital tools required to chart faster and more efficiently. However, many physicians often find these EHR systems more cumbersome than traditional written charts, forcing them to spend more time troubleshooting complex systems than with actual patients.

And there are so many other things that a physician has to do during a workday—deal with insurance matters, call patients back about results, deal with patient queries, work with auxiliary staff on practice management, etc. The list is ever-growing. Ultimately, the party that suffers the most is the patient.

Porter perfectly captures how patients feel about this conundrum: “If you do surveys with patients about what frustrates them about their medical care, you’ll frequently hear, ‘My doctor doesn’t spend time with me’ or ‘My doctor doesn’t follow up […] I think a lot of times this is interpreted as a lack of empathy, or a lack of willingness to care for a patient. But the reality—for the majority of doctors—is simply a lack of time.”

This has become a crucial problem in care delivery in nearly every context. In most parts of the country (and world), there is a massive physician shortage. This means that the physicians that are practicing have incredibly long patient rosters on a daily basis, and even longer waiting lists. Additionally, this is in the context of ever-growing pressure on physicians to increase their responsibilities, abide by new guidelines, and continue to maintain high patient satisfaction scores. Simply put, it is a never ending battle.

Undoubtedly, healthcare organizations and policy leaders must recognize these issues and take measures to alleviate some of these pressures. Whether that is funding more access to care opportunities or providing practices with more resources, change has to be enacted before this crisis leads to a point of no recovery.

(Courtesy: https://www.forbes.com/sites/saibala/2022/08/28/physicians-would-need-almost-27-hours-a-day-to-provide-optimal-patient-care-per-new-study/?sh=f832080582b9)

India’s 1st Intranasal Covid Vaccine Gets DCGI Nod For Emergency Use

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Tuesday approved Bharat Biotech’s intranasal Covid vaccine for restricted emergency use in those aged above 18 years. In a statement, the Hyderabad-based firm said its iNCOVACC (BBV154), the world’s first intranasal COVID-19 vaccine, received approval from DCGI under restricted use in emergency situation for ages 18 and above.

“Big Boost to India’s Fight Against COVID-19! Bharat Biotech’s ChAd36-SARS-CoV-S COVID-19 (Chimpanzee Adenovirus Vectored) recombinant nasal vaccine approved by @CDSCO_INDIA_INF for primary immunization against COVID-19 in 18+ age group for restricted use in emergency situation,” Union Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted.

He said this step will further strengthen “our collective fight” against the pandemic. India has harnessed its science, research and development (R&D), and human resources in the fight against Covid under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, he said.

“With the science-driven approach & Sabka Prayas, we will defeat COVID-19,” Mandaviya said in another tweet. iNCOVACC is a recombinant replication deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine with a pre-fusion stabilised spike protein.

This vaccine candidate was evaluated in phase I, II and III clinical trials with successful results, the press release from the vaccine-maker said. Clinical trials were conducted to evaluate iNCOVACC as a primary dose schedule, as heterologous booster dose for subjects who have previously received two doses of the two commonly administered Covid vaccines in India.

Officials said those who have already received the first and second doses of other vaccines will not be eligible to get iNCOVACC as the “precaution” third dose.

The Hyderabad-based firm said its iNCOVACC (BBV154), the world’s first intranasal COVID-19 vaccine.

Designed and developed to be cost effective

  • iNCOVACC is a recombinant replication deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine with a prefusion stabilized spike protein. This vaccine candidate was evaluated in phase I, II and III clinical trials with successful results.
  • Phase III trials of the vaccine were conducted for safety, immunogenicity in about 3,100 subjects, in 14 trial sites across India.
  • iNCOVACC has been specifically formulated to allow intranasal delivery through nasal drops. The nasal delivery system has been designed and developed to be cost effective in low and middle-income countries.
  • Product development and clinical trials were funded in part by the government of India through the Department of Biotechnology’s COVID Suraksha programme.
  • Clinical trials were conducted to evaluate iNCOVACC as a primary dose schedule, as heterologous booster dose for subjects who have previously received two doses of the two commonly administered COVID-19 vaccines in India.
  • iNCOVACC has the double benefit of enabling faster development of variant specific vaccines and easy nasal delivery that enables mass immunisation to protect from emerging variants of concern. It promises to become an important tool in mass vaccinations during pandemics and endemics.

What is the role of DCGI?

  • The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) headed by the Drugs Controller General (India) is the central authority for regulating the quality of drugs marketed in the country under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
  • The mission of CDSCO is to safeguard and enhance the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and quality of drugs, cosmetics and medical devices.
  • Regulatory control over the import of drugs, approval of new drugs and clinical trials, meetings of Drugs Consultative Committee (DCC) and Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), approval of certain licenses as Central License Approving Authority are major functions of CDSCO.
  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 have entrusted various responsibilities to central and state regulators for regulation of drugs and cosmetics. It envisages uniform implementation of the provisions of the Act and Rules made there under for ensuring the safety, rights and well being of the patients by regulating the drugs and cosmetics.
  • CDSCO is constantly striving to bring out transparency, accountability and uniformity in its services in order to ensure safety, efficacy and quality of the medical product manufactured, imported and distributed in the country.
  • The CDSCO, with its headquarters in New Delhi has six zonal offices, six  sub-zonal offices, seven Central Drugs Testing Laboratories and nine airport & 18 sea port offices (including inland container depots.

Physicians Would Need Almost 27 Hours A Day To Provide Optimal Patient Care, Per New Study

In a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, researchers found that in order to provide guideline-recommended care, a primary care physician would require nearly 26.7 hours per day.

The study was pioneered by Dr. Justin Porter, M.D., at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, and is titled “Revisiting the Time Needed to Provide Adult Primary Care.” The study looked at a hypothetical panel of 2500 patients, and what it would take to provide them guideline directed care (e.g. per The US Preventative Services Task Force guidelines). The studied categories included preventative care, in addition to chronic disease and acute care.

The results were jarring, indicating that there are literally not enough hours in the day for physicians to abide by all the recommendations that have been stipulated for “ideal patient care,” especially with the significant time challenges that actually exist in a real practice setting.

Dr. Porter explains: “There is this sort of disconnect between the care we’ve been trained to give and the constraints of a clinic workday […] We have an ever-increasing set of guidelines, but clinic slots have not increased proportionately.”

The practice of medicine is very different from the theoretical delivery of it. In real time practice, physicians are often bogged down with numerous tasks and inefficiencies that constantly distract their workflow. One of the biggest time investments is charting. For years, electronic health record (EHR) systems promised to hasten the charting process, providing physicians with the digital tools required to chart faster and more efficiently. However, many physicians often find these EHR systems more cumbersome than traditional written charts, forcing them to spend more time troubleshooting complex systems than with actual patients.

And there are so many other things that a physician has to do during a workday—deal with insurance matters, call patients back about results, deal with patient queries, work with auxiliary staff on practice management, etc. The list is ever-growing. Ultimately, the party that suffers the most is the patient.

Porter perfectly captures how patients feel about this conundrum: “If you do surveys with patients about what frustrates them about their medical care, you’ll frequently hear, ‘My doctor doesn’t spend time with me’ or ‘My doctor doesn’t follow up […] I think a lot of times this is interpreted as a lack of empathy, or a lack of willingness to care for a patient. But the reality—for the majority of doctors—is simply a lack of time.”

This has become a crucial problem in care delivery in nearly every context. In most parts of the country (and world), there is a massive physician shortage. This means that the physicians that are practicing have incredibly long patient rosters on a daily basis, and even longer waiting lists. Additionally, this is in the context of ever-growing pressure on physicians to increase their responsibilities, abide by new guidelines, and continue to maintain high patient satisfaction scores. Simply put, it is a never ending battle.

Undoubtedly, healthcare organizations and policy leaders must recognize these issues and take measures to alleviate some of these pressures. Whether that is funding more access to care opportunities or providing practices with more resources, change has to be enacted before this crisis leads to a point of no recovery.

(Courtesy: https://www.forbes.com/sites/saibala/2022/08/28/physicians-would-need-almost-27-hours-a-day-to-provide-optimal-patient-care-per-new-study/?sh=f832080582b9)

FDA Approves Moderna, Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized updated COVID-19 booster shots from Pfizer (PFE.N)/BioNTech (22UAy.DE) and Moderna that target the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, as the government prepares for a broad fall vaccination campaign that could begin within days.

The new vaccines also include the original version of the virus targeted by all the previous COVID shots. The FDA authorized the shots for everyone ages 12 and older who has had a primary vaccination series and is at least two months out from a previous booster shot, shorter than prior recommended intervals.

Dr. Peter Marks, a senior FDA official overseeing vaccines, said he hopes the shots will restore the very good protection against symptomatic disease that the original vaccines offered when launched in late 2020 and early 2021.

The Washington Post (8/31, McGinley) reports, “New Omicron-targeting coronavirus booster shots are poised for rollout after being authorized Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration – a move designed to improve protection against severe illness and death during a potential rise in COVID-19 cases this fall and winter.” These bivalent “boosters, reformulated to take aim at the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants dominant in the United States, are scheduled to be reviewed by advisers to the” CDC and if approved, “some boosters may be available starting this weekend, with more showing up in pharmacies, [physicians’] offices and clinics after Labor Day.”

The AP (8/31, Neergaard) reports, “The updated boosters are only for people who have already had their primary vaccinations, using the original vaccines.” The shots “made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech are for anyone 12 and older while Moderna’s updated shots are for adults – if it has been at least two months since their last primary vaccination or their latest booster.”

The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent, is authorized for use as a single booster dose in individuals 18 years of age and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent, is authorized for use as a single booster dose in individuals 12 years of age and older.

The monovalent COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized or approved by the FDA and have been administered to millions of people in the United States since December 2020 contain a component from the original strain of SARS-CoV-2.

What you need to know:

  • The authorized bivalent COVID-19 vaccines, or updated boosters, include an mRNA component of the original strain to provide an immune response that is broadly protective against COVID-19 and an mRNA component in common between the omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 lineages to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.
  • The BA.4 and BA.5 lineages of the omicron variant are currently causing most cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and are predicted to circulate this fall and winter. In June, the agency’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted overwhelmingly to include an omicron component in COVID-19 booster vaccines.
  • For each bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, the FDA based its decision on the totality of available evidence, including extensive safety and effectiveness data for each of the monovalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, safety and immunogenicity data obtained from a clinical study of a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine that contained mRNA from omicron variant BA.1 lineage that is similar to each of the vaccines being authorized, and nonclinical data obtained using a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine that contained mRNA of the original strain and mRNA in common between the BA.4 and BA.5 lineages of the omicron variant.
  • Based on the data supporting each of these authorizations, the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are expected to provide increased protection against the currently circulating omicron variant. Individuals who receive a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine may experience side effects commonly reported by individuals who receive authorized or approved monovalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
  • With today’s authorization, the monovalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not authorized as booster doses for individuals 12 years of age and older.
  • The agency will work quickly to evaluate future data and submissions to support authorization of bivalent COVID-19 boosters for additional age groups as we receive them.

Who is eligible to receive a single booster dose and when:

  • Individuals 18 years of age and older are eligible for a single booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent if it has been at least two months since they have completed primary vaccination or have received the most recent booster dose with any authorized or approved monovalent COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Individuals 12 years of age and older are eligible for a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent if it has been at least two months since they have completed primary vaccination or have received the most recent booster dose with any authorized or approved monovalent COVID-19 vaccine.

“The COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, continue to save countless lives and prevent the most serious outcomes (hospitalization and death) of COVID-19,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. “As we head into fall and begin to spend more time indoors, we strongly encourage anyone who is eligible to consider receiving a booster dose with a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine to provide better protection against currently circulating variants.”

The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent contain mRNA from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The mRNA in these vaccines is a specific piece of genetic material that instructs cells in the body to make the distinctive “spike” protein of the original virus strain and the omicron variant lineages BA.4 and BA.5. The spike proteins of BA.4 and BA.5 are identical.

“The FDA has been planning for the possibility that the composition of the COVID-19 vaccines would need to be modified to address circulating variants. We sought input from our outside experts on the inclusion of an omicron component in COVID-19 boosters to provide better protection against COVID-19. We have worked closely with the vaccine manufacturers to ensure the development of these updated boosters was done safely and efficiently. The FDA has extensive experience with strain changes for annual influenza vaccines. We are confident in the evidence supporting these authorizations,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “The public can be assured that a great deal of care has been taken by the FDA to ensure that these bivalent COVID-19 vaccines meet our rigorous safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality standards for emergency use authorization.”

For each of the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines authorized today, the FDA evaluated immunogenicity and safety data from a clinical study of a booster dose of a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine that contained a component of the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and a component of omicron lineage BA.1. The FDA considers such data as relevant and supportive of vaccines containing a component of the omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5 lineages. Furthermore, data pertaining to the safety and effectiveness of the current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, which have been administered to millions of people, including during the omicron waves of COVID-19, contributed to the agency’s evaluation.

Data Supporting the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent Authorization

To evaluate the effectiveness of a single booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent for individuals 18 years of age and older, the FDA analyzed immune response data among approximately 600 individuals 18 years of age and older who had previously received a two-dose primary series and one booster dose of monovalent Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. These participants received a second booster dose of either the monovalent Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine or Moderna’s investigational bivalent COVID-19 vaccine (original and omicron BA.1) at least 3 months after the first booster dose. After 28 days, the immune response against BA.1 of the participants who received the bivalent vaccine was better than the immune response of those who had received the monovalent Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.

The safety of a single booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent for individuals 18 years of age and older is supported by safety data from a clinical study which evaluated a booster dose of Moderna’s investigational bivalent COVID-19 vaccine (original and omicron BA.1), safety data from clinical trials which evaluated primary and booster vaccination with the monovalent Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, and postmarketing safety data with the monovalent Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.

The safety data accrued with the bivalent vaccine (original and omicron BA.1) and with the monovalent Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine are relevant to the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent because these vaccines are manufactured using the same process.

The clinical study that evaluated the safety of a booster dose of the bivalent vaccine (original and omicron BA.1) included approximately 800 participants 18 years of age and older who had previously received a two dose primary series and one booster dose of the monovalent Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, and then at least 3 months later, received a second booster dose with either the monovalent Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine or Moderna’s investigational bivalent COVID-19 vaccine (original and omicron BA.1).

Among the study participants who received the bivalent vaccine, the most commonly reported side effects included pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, nausea/vomiting and fever.

The fact sheets for both bivalent COVID-19 vaccines for recipients and caregivers and for healthcare providers include information about the potential side effects, as well as the risks of myocarditis and pericarditis.

With the authorization, the FDA has also revised the EUA of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to remove the use of the monovalent Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for booster administration for individuals 18 years of age and older and 12 years of age and older, respectively. These monovalent vaccines continue to be authorized for use for administration of a primary series for individuals 6 months of age and older as described in the letters of authorization. At this time, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine remains authorized for administration of a single booster dose for individuals 5 through 11 years of age at least five months after completing a primary series of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.

Indian Scientist Leads Groundbreaking Research On Alzheimer’s Disease

A new study led by a neuroscientist from the Centre for Brain Research at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) reveals cells that span brain hemispheres to coordinate activity in visual processing centres, and shows that Alzheimer’s degrades their structure and therefore their function.

The results of the study, published in Neuron by a research team based at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory in Cambridge, MA, come from experiments in mice, but provide a physiological and mechanistic basis for prior observations in human patients: the degree of diminished brain rhythm synchrony between counterpart regions in each hemisphere correlates with the clinical severity of dementia.

“We demonstrate that there is a functional circuit that can explain this phenomenon,” said lead author Chinnakkaruppan Adaikkan, a former Picower Institute postdoc who is now an assistant professor in the Centre for Brain Research at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore. “In a way, we uncovered a fundamental biology that was not known before.”

Specifically, Adaikkan’s work identified neurons that connect the primary visual cortex (V1) of each hemisphere and showed that when the cells are disrupted, either by genetic alterations that model Alzheimer’s disease or by direct laboratory perturbations, brain rhythm synchrony becomes reduced and mice become significantly less able to notice when a new pattern appeared on a wall in their enclosures. Such recognition of novelty, which requires visual memory of what was there the prior day, is an ability commonly disrupted in Alzheimer’s.

“This study demonstrates the propagation of gamma rhythm synchrony across the brain hemispheres via the cross hemispheric connectivity,” said study senior author Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor and director of The Picower Institute and MIT’s Aging Brain Initiative. “It also demonstrates that the disruption of this circuit in AD mouse models is associated with specific behavioral deficits.”

In the study, Adaikkan, Tsai, Thomas McHugh and co-authors discovered and traced V1 neurons that extended their axons all the way through the corpus callosum, which connects the brain’s hemispheres, to cells in the V1 on the brain’s other side. There, they found, the cross-hemispheric (CH) neurons forged connections, or synapses, with target cells, providing them with “excitatory” stimulation to drive their activity.

Adaikkan also found that CH neurons were much more likely to be activated by a novelty discrimination task than V1 neurons in general or neurons in other regions heavily involved in memory such as the hippocampus or the prefrontal cortex.

Curious about how this might differ in Alzheimer’s disease, the team looked at the activity of the cells in two different Alzheimer’s mouse models. The found that CH cell activity was significantly lessened amid the disease. Unsurprisingly, Alzheimer’s mice fared much poorer in novelty discrimination tasks.

The team examined the CH cells closely and found that they gather incoming input from a variety of other cells within their V1 and other regions in their hemisphere that process visual information. When they compared the incoming connections of healthy CH neurons to those in CH cells afflicted with Alzheimer’s, they found that cells in the disease condition had significantly less infrastructure for hosting incoming connections (measured in terms of synapse-hosting spines protruding from the vine-like dendrites that sprawl out of the cell body).

Given the observations correlating reduced brain rhythm synchrony and memory performance in Alzheimer’s, the team wondered if that occurred in the mice, too.

To find out, they custom-designed electrodes to measure rhythmic activity simultaneously in all cortical layers of each hemisphere’s V1. They observed that cross-hemispheric synchrony increased notably between the V1s when mice engaged in novelty discrimination but that the synchrony, both at high “gamma” and lower “theta” frequency rhythms, was significantly lower in the Alzheimer’s mice than it was in healthy mice.

Adaikkan’s evidence at that point was strong, but still only suggestive, that CH neurons provided the means by which the V1 regions on each side of the brain could coordinate to enable novelty discrimination, and that this ability became undermined by Alzheimer’s degradation of the CH cells’ connectivity. To more directly determine whether the CH circuit played such a causal, consequential role, the team directly intervened to disrupt them, testing what effect targeted perturbations had.

They found that chemically inhibiting CH cells disrupted rhythm synchrony between V1s, mirroring measures made in Alzheimer’s model mice. Moreover, disrupting CH activity undermined novelty discrimination ability. To further test whether it was the cells’ cross-hemispheric nature that mattered specifically, they engineered CH cells to be controllable with flashes of light (a technology called “optogenetics”). When they shined the light on the connections, they forged in the other hemisphere to inhibit those, they found that doing so again compromised visual discrimination ability.

All together, the study results show that CH cells in V1 connect with neurons in the counterpart area of the opposite hemisphere to synchronize neural activity needed for properly recognizing novelty, but that Alzheimer’s disease damages their ability to do that job.

IAMA – AAPI Holds Highly Successful Free Health Fair In Chicago

Continuing with the tradition of offering free medical services to the local population, Indian American Medical Association, Illinois in collaboration with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) organized its annual Community Health Fair in Chicago on Sunday, August 28, 2022.

Over a hundred registrants availed the free medical services rendered by nearly two dozen physicians from various specialists at the day-long event. “We offered vital signs measurement, Blood tests for total cholesterol, HDL, Sugar and Noninvasive Hemoglobin and consultation with primary care and various available specialists including internist, pediatrician, pulmonologist and critical care, urologist, obstetrician and gynecologist, anesthesiologist and pathologist,” Dr. Suresh Reddy, President of IAMA and a past President of AAPI said. “Having more specialists could have benefited several patients as there was a need for many more medical and surgical specialists like general surgeon, gastroenterologist, ophthalmologists,” he added.

The hugely successful IAMA – AAPI Free health fair offered discounted coupons just for $30 to have the CT coronary calcium screening done at Imaging Center. Also, the participants at the Health Fair were provided with the free lab services through the IAMA offices.  Among the many services offered to the registrants, the Fair stressed on the importance of Cardiac Health Awareness in view of so many sudden deaths and acute MI among people of Indian heritage at a younger age.

“Once again, these AAPI members have showed their dedication by conducting the free Community Health Fair, so well organized IAMA,” Dr. Meher Medavaram, Secretary of AAPI, while praising the efforts of IAMA members in reaching out to the local community, said. Describing them to “role models in selfless service for the younger AAPI generation,” Dr. Medavaram wished “them continued success.”

The Fair was organized by Dr. Suresh Reddy, President of IAMI, Dr. Meher Medavaram and Dr. Radhika Chimata, Treasurer and Secretary of IAMA, and the entire executive Committee members, including Dr. Piyush Vyas, Dr. Dilip Shah, Dr. Rajeev Kumar, Dr. Sukanya Reddy, Dr. Srilatha Gundala, Dr. Neetha Dhananjaya, Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala. Dr. Reddy expressed his “deep appreciation and gratitude to all, particularly to the senior members of IAM, Dr. Amit Vyas, Dr. Geeta Wadhwani and several others who actively provided their services. Thank you Christy Dolan for your moral support.”

Radhika Chimata, Secretary of IAMA expressed gratitude to those who partnered with IAMA-AAPI in this noble effort included: Vinoz Chanamolu from Mall of India, Mamtani Foundation, Global Eye and American Telugu Association. “I want to thank Rep. Deanne Mazzochi who joined the event as the “Guest of Honor/ and lauded the efforts of IAMA-AAPI. Special thanks and appreciation to the more than 50 high school volunteers led by Shree Gurusamy and Alli Dhanaraj who enjoyed the educational experience,” she said.

“AAPI and IAMA are built on Core Value of Service.” And he commended “All the Doctors, Volunteers and the Executive Committee for continuing this tradition of service by bringing health care to needy and poor and the homeless patients of Chicago,” Dr. Reddy said. “I feel so satisfied we could bring basic healthcare to the homeless and poor people at the health fair. It was an amazing priceless experience to serve these many real needy people in a short period of time with limited resources and manpower.”

(IAMA-IL) is a non-profit organization comprised of Illinois physicians, fellows, residents, and medical students of Indian origin who are committed to professional excellence and quality patient care. The Indian American Medical Association Charitable Foundation Free Health Clinic is a non-profit organization that was established in 1994. The free clinic serves low-income populations, who are uninsured and under-served that have no affordable or culturally competent medical facility for their healthcare needs. Patients services are provided without regard to nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, or race.For more details, please visit: https://iamaill.org.

AAPI Plans India’s 75th Independence Day Anniversary Celebrations On Capitol Hill

The growing influence of doctors of Indian heritage is evident, as increasingly physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administrative positions across the nation. With their hard work, dedication, compassion, and skills, they have thus carved an enviable niche among the American medical community. The role being played by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) has come to be recognized as vital among Lawmakers as wells by the Federal and State governments as many Indian Americans play important roles in shaping healthcare policies and programs.

In this context, AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, representing the interests of ovewr120,000 physicians/Fellows of Indian Origin has planned to honor India, their motherland on the occasion of India’s 75th anniversary of Independence with a Special Celebration on Capitol Hill at the US Senate Hart Building, Room # 902 in Washington, DC on September 21st, 2022 at 2 pm.

“India @ 75! It’s a milestone with mixed feelings, one with a sense of pride and joy for all the accomplishments and progress we have made, while preserving our integrity, unity, core values of freedoms, democracy and respect for different cultures and the groups that live and thrive in our beloved motherland,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI. “We are proud to be part of this historic celebration of India on Capitol Hill, where we will have an opportunity to exchange views and express our concerns with the dozens of US Lawmakers, who will come to be part of the celebrations.”

“Indian American physicians have made vital contributions to the health care field,” said Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Chair of AAPI’s Legislative Committee. “As physicians, we provide critical care to patients from rural & urban communities across the Country. Indian American doctors are playing a critical role in filling the nationwide physician shortage. The India Day on Capitol Hill will be a unique opportunity for AAPI members to be part of the decision-making process on matters related to healthcare and advocate for stronger and closer ties between India and the United States, the two largest democracies of the world. We expect to have the participation from dozens of key Congressmen and Senators.”

“Our India day Celebrations on the Hill will include interactive sessions with the US Lawmakers. That evening, a reception and dinner hosted by Honorable Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to the United States, with several dignitaries at the Indian Embassy,” said Dr. V. Ranga, Chair of AAPI BOT.

Dr. Anjana Samadder, President-Elect of AAPI said, “AAPI has been serving India and contributing to the effective healthcare delivery in the US and in India. In keeping with the mission AAPI, the celebrations on the Hill will provide us with a forum to facilitate and enable Indian American physicians share our concerns with the Lawmakers in pursuit of our aspirations in matters relating to professional and community affairs.”

“The historic 75th India Independence Day Day celebrations on Capitol Hill will provide us with an effective Forum to help renew our friendship with US administration under the leadership of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and brief the Congressional leaders on issues that are important to us,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI.

Dr. Meher Medevaram, Secretary of AAPI said, “The Executive Committee is working hard to ensure active participation of young physicians, increasing membership, and enabling AAPI’s voice to be heard in the corridors of power, and thus taking AAPI to new heights.”

“AAPI events on Capitol Hill are eagerly awaited by members as they rekindle and renew our energy in bringing up the issues that we need to bring to the attention of national policy makers and leaders of the US Congress on Capitol Hill,” said Dr. Sumul Rawal, Treasurer of AAPI.

According to Dr. Shivangi, “While the celebrations of India’s 75th anniversary will focus on India and its growing influence on world stage, it will also give AAPI members to meet and interact with Indian Ambassador to USA Hon. Taranjit Singh Sandhu and the Embassy officials during an evening dinner to be hosted by the Ambassador. I look forward to meeting with many of our friends in Washington, DC region and from all across the nation on September 21st.” Dr. Shivangi added.

“AAPI has been seeking to collectively shape the best health care for everyone in the US, with the physicians at the helm, caring for the medically underserved as we have done for several decades when physicians of Indian origin came to the US in larger numbers,” says Dr. Ravi Kolli.

“AAPI is once again in the forefront in bringing many burning health care issues facing the community at large and bringing this to the Capitol and to the US Congress.” Dr. Kolli urged his all AAPI colleagues and everyone interested in or connected with providing health care to attend this event and ensure that our concerns and needs are heard by our lawmakers and ensure that they act on them.”

For more information on AAPI and its several noble initiatives benefitting AAPI members and the larger society, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Psilocybin Helps Heavy Drinkers Cut Back Or Quit Drinking Entirely

The compound in psychedelic mushrooms helped heavy drinkers cut back or quit entirely in the most rigorous test of psilocybin for alcoholism, reports here stated. Psilocybin, found in several species of mushrooms, can cause hours of vivid hallucinations. Indigenous people have used it in healing rituals and scientists are exploring whether it can ease depression or help longtime smokers quit. It’s illegal in the U.S., though Oregon and several cities have decriminalized it. Starting next year, Oregon will allow its supervised use by licensed facilitators.

The new research, published last week in JAMA Psychiatry, is “the first modern, rigorous, controlled trial” of whether it can also help people struggling with alcohol, said Fred Barrett, a Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist who wasn’t involved in the study.

In the study, 93 patients took a capsule containing psilocybin or a dummy medicine, lay on a couch, their eyes covered, and listened to recorded music through headphones. They received two such sessions, one month apart, and 12 sessions of talk therapy.

The Associated Press reports, “The compound in psychedelic mushrooms helped heavy drinkers cut back or quit entirely in the most rigorous test of psilocybin for alcoholism,” investigators concluded in a study in which “93 patients took a capsule containing psilocybin or a dummy medicine, lay on a couch, their eyes covered, and listened to recorded music through headphones.” Participants “received two such sessions, one month apart, and 12 sessions of talk therapy.”

NBC News reports the study revealed that “more than 80% of those who were given the psychedelic treatment had drastically reduced their drinking eight months after the study started, compared to just over 50% in the antihistamine control group,” according to findings published online Aug. 24 in JAMA Psychiatry. In fact, “at the end of the trial, half of those who received psilocybin had quit drinking altogether, compared to about one-quarter of those who were given the antihistamine.”

Mary Beth Orr, 69, of Burien, Washington, said her psilocybin-induced hallucinations — flying over breathtaking landscapes and merging telepathically with creative people throughout history — taught her she wasn’t alone. Before enrolling in the study in 2018, Orr had five or six drinks every evening and more on weekends. “The quantity was unacceptable and yet I couldn’t stop,” she said. “There was no off switch that I could access.”

During her first psilocybin experience, she saw a vision of her late father, who gave her a pair of eagle eyes and said, “Go.” She told the therapists monitoring her: “These eagle eyes can’t see God’s face, but they know where it is.”

She stopped drinking entirely for two years, and now has an occasional glass of wine. More than the talk therapy, she credits psilocybin. “It made alcohol irrelevant and uninteresting to me,” Orr said. Now, “I am tethered to my children and my loved ones in a way that just precludes the desire to be alone with alcohol.”

Patients receiving psilocybin had more headaches, nausea and anxiety than those getting the dummy drug. One person reported thoughts of suicide during a psilocybin session. In an experiment like this, it’s important that patients don’t know or guess if they got the psilocybin or the dummy drug. To try to achieve this, the researchers chose a generic antihistamine with some psychoactive effects as the placebo. Still, most patients in the study correctly guessed whether they got the psilocybin or the dummy pill.

Covid Increases Risks Of Brain Disorders

A study published this week in the Lancet Psychiatry showed increased risks of some brain disorders two years after infection with the coronavirus, shedding new light on the long-term neurological and psychiatric aspects of the virus.

The analysis, conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford and drawing on health records data from more than 1 million people around the world, found that while the risks of many common psychiatric disorders returned to normal within a couple of months, people remained at increased risk for dementia, epilepsy, psychosis and cognitive deficit (or brain fog) two years after contracting covid. Adults appeared to be at particular risk of lasting brain fog, a common complaint among coronavirus survivors.

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The study was a mix of good and bad news findings, said Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Oxford and the senior author of the study. Among the reassuring aspects was the quick resolution of symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

“I was surprised and relieved by how quickly the psychiatric sequelae subsided,” Harrison said.

David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, who has been studying the lasting impacts of the coronavirus since early in the pandemic, said the study revealed some very troubling outcomes.

“It allows us to see without a doubt the emergence of significant neuropsychiatric sequelae in individuals that had covid and far more frequently than those who did not,” he said.

Because it focused only on the neurological and psychiatric effects of the coronavirus, the study authors and others emphasized that it is not strictly long-covid research.

“It would be overstepping and unscientific to make the immediate assumption that everybody in the [study] cohort had long covid,” Putrino said. But the study, he said, “does inform long-covid research.”

Between 7 million and 23 million people in the United States have long covid, according to recent government estimates – a catchall term for a wide range of symptoms including fatigue, breathlessness and anxiety that persist weeks and months after the acute infection has subsided. Those numbers are expected to rise as the coronavirus settles in as an endemic disease.

The study was led by Maxime Taquet, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford who specializes in using big data to shed light on psychiatric disorders.

The researchers matched almost 1.3 million patients with a diagnosis of covid-19 between Jan. 20, 2020, and April 13, 2022, with an equal number of patients who had other respiratory diseases during the pandemic. The data, provided by electronic health records network TriNetX, came largely from the United States but also included data from Australia, Britain, Spain, Bulgaria, India, Malaysia and Taiwan.

The study group, which included 185,000 children and 242,000 older adults, revealed that risks differed according to age groups, with people age 65 and older at greatest risk of lasting neuropsychiatric affects.

For people between the ages of 18 and 64, a particularly significant increased risk was of persistent brain fog, affecting 6.4 percent of people who had had covid compared with 5.5 percent in the control group.

Six months after infection, children were not found to be at increased risk of mood disorders, although they remained at increased risk of brain fog, insomnia, stroke and epilepsy. None of those affects were permanent for children. With epilepsy, which is extremely rare, the increased risk was larger.

The study found that 4.5 percent of older people developed dementia in the two years after infection, compared with 3.3 percent of the control group. That 1.2-point increase in a diagnosis as damaging as dementia is particularly worrisome, the researchers said.

The study’s reliance on a trove of de-identified electronic health data raised some cautions, particularly during the tumultuous time of the pandemic. Tracking long-term outcomes may be hard when patients may have sought care through many different health systems, including some outside the TriNetX network.

“I personally find it impossible to judge the validity of the data or the conclusions when the data source is shrouded in mystery and the sources of the data are kept secret by legal agreement,” said Harlan Krumholz, a Yale scientist who has developed an online platform where patients can enter their own health data.

Taquet said the researchers used several means of assessing the data, including making sure it reflected what is already known about the pandemic, such as the drop in death rates during the omicron wave.

Also, Taquet said, “the validity of data is not going to be better than validity of diagnosis. If clinicians make mistakes, we will make the same mistakes.”

The study follows earlier research from the same group, which reported last year that a third of covid patients experienced mood disorders, strokes or dementia six months after infection with the coronavirus.

While cautioning that it is impossible to make full comparisons among the effects of recent variants, including omicron and its subvariants, which are currently driving infections, and those that were prevalent a year or more ago, the researchers outlined some initial findings: Even though omicron caused less severe immediate symptoms, the longer-term neurological and psychiatric outcomes appeared similar to the delta waves, indicating that the burden on the world’s health-care systems might continue even with less-severe variants.

Hannah Davis, a co-founder of the Patient-Led Research Collaborative, which studies long covid, said that finding was meaningful. “It goes against the narrative that omicron is more mild for long covid, which is not based on science,” Davis said.

“We see this all the time,” Putrino said. “The general conversation keeps leaving out long covid. The severity of initial infection doesn’t matter when we talk about long-term sequelae that ruin people’s lives.”

Half Of Fatal Cancer Cases Linked To Avoidable Risk Factors

Almost half of all cancers that lead to death can be attributed to risk factors that are avoidable, a new study found, with researchers advising that governments invest in supporting environments that minimize exposure to certain cancer risk factors.

The study, which looked at cancer cases from 2019 and was published in The Lancet, found that 44 percent of cancer deaths were what researchers referred to as risk-attributable cancer deaths, meaning cancers that could be linked to higher exposure to certain risk factors for the disease.

On a global scale, the leading risk factors were smoking, alcohol and high BMI in descending order. These risk factors were the same for both male and female patients.

The same study found that 42 percent of cancer-related disability-adjusted life-years — the number of years lost to not living at full health or with a disability — could be attributed to risk factors.

The burden of risk-attributable cancers varied across regions, with smoking, unsafe sex and alcohol being the leading risk factors in lower-income, socially disadvantaged countries. Higher-income countries tended to reflect the global risk factors, according to researchers.

“Although some cancer cases are not preventable, governments can work on a population level to support an environment that minimises exposure to known cancer risk factors,” researchers said.

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“Primary prevention, or the prevention of a cancer developing, is a particularly cost-effective strategy, although it must be paired with more comprehensive efforts to address cancer burden, including secondary prevention initiatives, such as screening programmes, and ensuring effective capacity to diagnose and treat those with cancer.”

Researchers noted that “substantial progress” has been made in reducing tobacco exposure, particularly through interventions like taxation, regulations and smoke-free policies globally. Similar efforts have been made to address risks such as alcohol use and unsafe sex.

“Behavioural risk factors are strongly influenced by the environment in which people live and individuals with cancer should not be blamed for their disease,” said researchers.

Ratan N. Tata Invests In Start-Up Offering Companionship To The Elderly

Goodfellows, a young start-up that provides authentic meaningful companionship to seniors through young, educated graduates that are vetted intensely for empathy and emotional intelligence, was launched on Wednesday. It is a for-profit start-up based on the concept of intergenerational friendships.

Shantanu Naidu, General Manager in the office of Ratan N. Tata, said, “The start-up emphasises that companionship means different things to different people. To some, it may mean watching a movie, narrating stories from the past, going on a walk, or having quiet company sitting around doing nothing together, and we are here to accommodate it all. In its beta phase, we discovered how organically the Grandpals bonded with the Goodfellows. Tata’s investment in our venture further is a huge source of encouragement to our dedication to this concept.”

Commenting on the investment, Ratan N. Tata, Chairman, Emeritus of Tata Sons, said, “The bonds between the two generations created by Goodfellows are very meaningful and are helping to address an important social issue In India. I hope the investment helps the young team at Goodfellows grow.”

The launch was attended by Ratan Tata as well as some youth icons, including Shriya Pilgaonkar, Artist; Viraj Ghelani, Content Creator; with their grandparents and with existing “Grandpals” who have subscribed to the service.

Over the past six months, the start up has taken time to complete a successful beta and will now be available in Mumbai with Pune, Chennai and Bangalore as the next target cities. During the beta testing phase, it received a positive response with over 800 applications from young graduates looking to be employed here, of which a shortlisted cohort of 20 provided companionship to the elderly in Mumbai.

According to the team, it has been a challenging but rewarding task to ensure that the “Goodfellows” bond with their Grandpals in an authentic and meaningful way and not just cosmetically. This requires several rounds of vetting and some in-house psychometric tests to choose the best graduates.

In terms of services offered, a Goodfellow does whatever a grandkid would do. There are 15 million elderlies in India living alone, either due to loss of a partner, or families moving away for unavoidable work reasons. While many of them have caregivers or start-ups for utilitarian needs such as e-commerce, the issue of loneliness or lack of company has been the primary reason for deteriorating mental and physical health.

In addition to this, Goodfellows also hosts monthly events curated to the enjoyment and engagement of the Grandpals who participate, making the bond deeper and enjoyable in a different environment. This allows the Grandpals to meet each other as well as more young graduates, building a sense of community.

The business model is a freemium subscription model. The first month is free with only the goal of having the Grandpal experience this service, since it’s hard to understand the concept without actually going through it. The second month onward is a small subscription fee that has been decided based on the limited affordability of pensioners. The fee is in place for two important reasons:

The Goodfellows have been vetted for empathy and have an affinity towards the elderlies, but like any other graduate, they would like to be secure about their finances and do their best for the seniors. To give them dignified, respectable salaries for choosing this profession, this is a paid service. This also ensures that chosen few are retained, groomed and have a career ladder while giving back to society.

A subscription model guarantees that when the seniors bond with the goodfellows, we do not keep rotating the graduate visiting them since that does not allow enough time or emotional attention to form an authentic and real bond. When we make a friend we want to see the same friend often. A new person every time will prevent this from happening.

Several non-profit models in this space have failed since volunteering happens as per the availability of volunteers and no one invests enough time with one senior to form an authentic bond. Once the desire is over, volunteers move away which impacts seniors gravely.

It offers short term internships as well as employment to graduates looking to find a job that allows them to apply their educational background in this space while having a sense of purpose or fulfilment from the work that they do. These graduates are given the autonomy to ideate and create and make the company their own. For example Ketki from Sophia College has been instrumental in refining the psychometric testing in order to “mine” more numbers of empathetic graduates into the organisation based on psychological evidence.

The major percentage of funds from investors are currently geared towards scaling up the human capital, which is a slow process since empathy cannot be vetted quickly or by the traditional recruiting process. In the near future, it will offer travel companions for seniors holding back from making trips due to lack of security or company, and also plans to extend its services to the handicap community facing similar or more challenges.

Artist Shriya Pilgaonkar, known for her outstanding role in ‘Mirzapur’, ‘The Broken News’, and ‘Guilty Minds’, said, “The stories and experiences our grandparents have to share with us are nothing less than invaluable. They have seen it all and probably have evolved with it more considering how much more they are open to understanding our generation, compared to our parents. Which makes for the most riveting conversations when we are together. My grandfather’s zest for life and travel, to date, keeps inspiring me and in some ways makes him one of my best friends too, as we go on adventures together.” The star was also present with her grandfather Arun Narayan Sabnis, who shared wise words.

Popular YouTuber, Sherry Shroff, who is also a former model and law student, appreciated the initiative, and said, “Often younger people may not have the privilege to grow up with their grandparents, and won’t know what they are missing. From that standpoint, Goodfellows is such a great initiative for not just the Grandpals, but also the youth, to get the chance to learn from the older generation, who have a treasure trove of knowledge to pass down.”

Known for his hilarious videos and reels with his sassy grandmother, Viraj Ghelani, content creator, said, “I owe so much of my success to my grandmother. I still struggle to fathom the breadth of knowledge she holds, from how the city of Mumbai came to exist, to watching the Independence movement come to life. I get to learn so much from her and it is truly a privilege to be loved and protected by a grandparent.”

Senior citizens can avail the services by signing-up on thegoodfellows.in or can give a missed call at +91-8779524307 or check out the Instagram handle. (IANS)

UN To Host Over 190 World Leaders – Despite Threats From A Deadly New Covid-19 Variant

IPS UN Bureau Report

(IPS) – The United Nations is planning to host a high-level “in-person” General Assembly session, September 20-26, with over 190 world leaders and delegates listed to speak, including heads of state, heads of government, high-ranking ministers and senior officials.

The world body is apparently on a risky path, with hundreds of delegates due in New York for the opening of the 77th session—and, most worryingly, at a time when a new Covid-19 variant BA.5 is sweeping across the United States, including New York.

In a letter addressed to the President of the General Assembly, E. Courtenay Rattray Chef de Cabinet, says “while there is strong support for the return to a pre-pandemic General Debate, as reflected by the level of inscriptions by Member States in the provisional list of speakers– and an improvement in the environment as compared to the last two years– we also recognize that we are not free from the Coronavirus and its impact.”

“As such, there is a need to be prudent in our facilitation of the General Debate and High-level Week.” 

Under a business-as-usual scenario, occupancy at UN Headquarters will increase significantly this September, particularly in meeting rooms and in the General Assembly and Conference buildings. 

“With a view to mitigating this impact, our planning assumptions reflect an emphasis on basic protective measures and a decrease in the number of attendees, as much as reasonably possible”, the letter said. 

On July 21, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre formally announced that US President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to address the General Assembly on September 20, tested positive for COVID-19. 

“He is fully vaccinated and twice boosted and experiencing very mild symptoms. He has begun taking Paxlovid. Consistent with CDC guidelines, he will isolate at the White House and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time,” she added. 

In a July 20 report, Cable News Network (CNN) said “in the United States, BA.5 has become the dominant strain and is driving a significant spike in cases — more than 120,000 a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though experts say that number may be more like 1 million, given the underreporting of home test results. 

Europe, meanwhile, has seen a tripling of new Covid-19 infections over the past six weeks, with nearly 3 million reported last week, accounting for almost half of all new cases worldwide. Hospital admissions in Europe over the same period have doubled. 

“The end of the last remaining restrictions on international travel and return of large gatherings, like music festivals, are among the factors helping the virus to spread, experts say. And the number of cases may actually be higher than data shows because countries have significantly pared back testing and surveillance, making it difficult to judge the true extent of the current surge’, said CNN.

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the spike in infections was a harbinger of an even worse situation to come, calling on countries to urgently reintroduce mitigation strategies before it was too late.

“It’s now abundantly clear we’re in a similar situation to last summer — only this time the ongoing Covid-19 wave is being propelled by sub-lineages of the Omicron variant, notably BA.2 and BA.5, with each dominant sub-lineage of Omicron showing clear transmission advantages over the previously circulating viruses,” WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said in a statement.   

Though intensive care admissions remain relatively low, as infection rates rise among older populations, deaths are mounting — almost 3,000 people a week are dying from Covid in Europe.

But in order to protect delegates and staff alike, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, having considered the recommendations of the UN’s Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Committee, has decided on the following guidelines:

** As a condition of entry to the compound, all persons will be required to attest that they have not had symptoms of, or been diagnosed with, COVID-19 in the last 5 days. 

** Masks are to be worn by all attendees at all times when indoors, except when directly addressing a meeting or consuming food/beverages. 

** Apart from a limited number of high-level side events, for which preparations are well under way, side events are to be conducted virtually or off-site. 

** United Nations departments and offices will not be hosting or co-hosting in-person side events or luncheons during the high-level week.

** Bilateral booths will be available with seating for 2 principals and 6 advisers (3 per side).

** Permanent Missions are encouraged to manage COVID-19 cases and determine any subsequent action regarding case exposures among their own attendees and guests, including notification to other delegations or to the President of the General Assembly.

** United Nations staff who are not required to be on-site to support the proceedings will be mandated to work remotely for the full week. 

Further information, including the number of access cards provided for the General Assembly Hall, will be contained in an Information Note for delegations that will be issued as A/INF/77/4.

“The Organization will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 metrics in New York City. Therefore, the steps outlined above remain subject to modification should conditions change, as the Secretariat continues to ensure that the work of the Organization is conducted as safely and effectively as possible,” letter said. 

After several on-again, off-again pandemic lockdowns, the United Nations returned to near-normal beginning March 2022.

A circular from Guterres said “based on the new guidelines, we are now able to institute associated changes in our workplace, returning to full operational capability while still prioritizing the health and safety of personnel, and balancing the operational needs of the Organization”.

Guided by the Senior Emergency Policy Team and the Occupational Safety and Health Committee in New York, mask use was voluntary throughout the UN building and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), mostly denied entry since March 2020, were given access to the UN premises.

AAPI’s Cervical Cancer Vaccination Program Concludes In Hyderabad

“The HPV Vaccination Initiative to prevent HPV related cancers including Cervical cancer was started by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), in collaboration with Tanvir Foundation concluded successfully in Hyderabad with a virtual program attended by leadership of AAPI and local participation by leadership of IMA Telangana on July 17th,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI. “It was heartening to be part of this noble initiative’s concluding ceremony virtually,’ he added. 

The first of a kind program administered free HPV vaccines to the poor and underserved adolescent girls at the local Tanvir Hospital in Srinagar Colony, Hyderabad in India with the objective of preventing HPV related cancers, including cervical cancer, which is a leading cause of cancer deaths among women in India. The initial launch of the program was held on January 9th, 2022, during the 15th annual Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad at Tanvir Hospital, Hyderabad, India under the leadership of Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Immediate past president of AAPI. “AAPI is happy to initiate the HPV Vaccine Program, We at AAPI, in keeping with our efforts and initiatives to educate, create awareness and provide support on disease prevention,” Dr. Gotimukula, past-president of AAPI said. 

The HPV vaccination program requires two doses of the vaccine to prevent cancer. The 2nd phase of the free vaccination camp was conducted on July 17th, 2022 at Tanvir Hospital, Hyderabad, with the lighting of the traditional lamp by  Dr. Sampath Rao, Presidentn of  IMATelangan, Dr. Raghunandan, President  of IMA North,  Dr. Surendranath, Secretary of IMA Telangana, Dr. Meeta Singh, and Dr. Naunihal Singh of Tanvir Hospital who administered second dose of HPV vaccine to the 100 adolescent girls, completing the vaccination program

AAPI Advisor Dr. Dwarakanatha Reddy said, “If vaccination programs are effectively implemented, approximately 90 percent of invasive cervical cancer cases worldwide could be prevented, in addition to the majority of precancerous lesions.”  

Usually, cervical cancer develops slowly over time, and another powerful preventive measure is Pap test screening, a procedure during which cells are collected from the surface of the cervix and examined. The Pap test can both detect cancer at an early stage, treatment outcomes tend to be better. 

 Dr. V. Ranga, Chair, Board of Trustees pointed out: “Once a leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States, today, screening and prevention have greatly reduced the impact of this form of cancer. Increasing screening and prevention are key components of the effort to eradicate cervical cancer.” Since almost all cases of the disease are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, vaccines that protect against the virus could prevent the vast majority of cases. 

Dr. Anjana Samaddar, President-Elect of AAPI said, “Cervical cancer could be the first cancer EVER in the world to be eliminated, if: 90 % of girls are vaccinated; 70% of women are screened; and, 90% of women with cervical disease receive treatment. This is an important step towards reaching goal,” she pointed out. 

While elaborating the objectives of the Summit, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI, said, “In addition to Cervical cancer, GHS 2022 provided education  on: Chronic diseases which can be prevented- notably diabetes, cardiovascular, hypertension, COPD, oncology, maternal and infant mortality, lifestyle changes,  geriatrics, management of neurological emergencies, ENLS, a certification course”. 

“In coordination with the local organizers, AAPI donated the funds for the HPV Vaccination, a total of 200 doses for the vaccine for 100 children from the state of Telangana,” said Dr. Meher Medavaram, an organizer of the program, and the Secretary of AAPI. “AAPI’s this new initiative through education and awareness programs is aimed at helping save millions of lives in India,” she added. 

According to The American Cancer Society, Cervical Cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. The cervical cancer death rate dropped significantly with the increased use of the Pap test for screening. Expressing confidence, Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Chair of AAPI’s GHS in Hyderabad, said, “Together we can all bring awareness in the community to prevent Cervical Cancer in India which is 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in women!” 

 “Through Continuing Medical Education and non-CME seminars by experts in their fields, AAPI provides comprehensive and current reviews and guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of various disease states to reduce morbidity and mortality and achieve cost effective quality care outcomes,” said Dr. Sumul Raval, Treasurer of AAPI. 

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI believes, “Cervical Cancer is preventable through  HPV Vaccination and Early Pap smears and cervical examinations. Justifiably so, one of our preventive campaign goals has been to provide education and vaccination for prevention of Cervical Cancer in India.”  For more information, please visit www.aapiusa.org

Will Eye Drops Replace Reading Glasses?

The US has approved a new type of eye drop which they say could eliminate the need for reading glasses, media reports here say. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recently approved the use of an eye drop designed to improve age-related near-vision, reports Express.co.uk.

Called Vuity, the drop is applied to each eye once a day and starts working within 15 minutes of application. The makers say each drop lasts for at least six hours. As per the report, the drug is a formulation of a well-known compound known as pilocarpine.

The prescription medication Vuity treats age-related blurry vision, also known as presbyopia.  It’s a condition common enough to affect approximately 128 million people in the United States as the muscles in the eyes require more effort to focus.

Although the condition is common, it doesn’t mean we have to live with it. For people tired of always looking for reading glasses or squinting their eyes trying to read a product label, a daily dose of Vuity could help.

The researchers behind Vuity designed it to allow for the eye drop to rapidly adjust to the pH of the tear film. What the drop does is take advantage of the eye’s ability to reduce pupil size, improve near-vision whilst maintaining distance vision.

The drop has been found to be most effective for those between the ages of 40 and 55. Results have come from two randomized control trials on 750 subjects, the report said.

It was during these studies that Vuity was observed to start working within 15 minutes of application.

In a positive piece of news, the drops were found to result in no serious side effects. However, some patients experienced mild headaches and eye redness. (IANS)

2 Billion Covid Vaccinations Given In India

India celebrated its dedication commitment to prevent Covid virus as it has now provided over two billion Billion Vaccines to its 1.4 billion people. Celebrations were across the nation, after India administered 2 billion doses of vaccinations against COVID-19. 

According to reports compiled by Reuters, Macau kicked off an 11th round of COVID-19 testing for residents on Monday, as the world’s biggest casino hub extended a lockdown of casinos and other businesses in the fight on its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

ASIA-PACIFIC

* The Indian government’s COVID-19 vaccinations hit 2 billion on Sunday, July 17yj with booster doses underway for all adults, as daily infections hit four-month high, official data showed.

* Japan’s daily COVID-19 infections hit a record of more than 110,000, Jiji news agency reported on Saturday. Faced with a seventh COVID wave, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has urged the public to exercise maximum vigilance.

* Shanghai will require residents across nine of the city’s districts and some smaller areas to undergo testing for COVID-19 over July 19-21 in an effort to stem any community spread of the virus, the city government said.

* North Korea is on the path to “finally defuse” a crisis stemming from its first acknowledged outbreak of COVID-19, the state news agency said, while Asian neighbours battle a fresh wave of infections driven by Omicron subvariants.

* China reported 598 new coronavirus cases for July 17, of which 167 were symptomatic and 431 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said.

EUROPE

* An estimated 3.5 million people in Britain had COVID-19 in the latest week of available data, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday, up nearly 30% on the 2.7 million recorded in the previous week.

* British athlete Morgan Lake was forced to pull out of the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday after the 25-year-old tested positive for COVID-19.

* The Czech Republic will begin offering a second COVID-19 boosters from July 18, recommending the shot for people over 60 and those in risk groups, the Health Ministry said.

AMERICAS

* Canada authorized Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine for babies as young as 6 months old, making it the country’s first vaccine against coronavirus for children under 5, Health Canada said.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS* Patients with long COVID may see some improvement after breathing pure oxygen in a high-air-pressure environment, according to data from a small Israeli trial.

* The European Medicines Agency identified severe allergic reactions as potential side-effects of Novavax Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine, a day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorised the use of the shot.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* China’s economy is facing pressure due to COVID-19 and external shocks, and the central bank will “increase implementation of prudent monetary policy” to support the real economy, China’s central bank Governor Yi Gang said.

* New Zealand’s consumer prices rose at their fastest pace in three decades, beating forecasts and raising the prospect of an unprecedented 75-basis-point interest rate hike at the central bank’s policy meeting next month.

* Asian shares inched higher on Monday following a much-needed bounce on Wall Street, but nerves are stretched ahead of a near-certain interest rate hike in Europe and another round of corporate earnings reports.

(Compiled by Rashmi Aich; editing by Uttaresh.V of Reuters: https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.)

New Coronavirus Mutant Raises Concerns In India And Beyond

By, Laura Ungar & Aniruddha Ghosal

The quickly changing coronavirus has spawned yet another super contagious omicron mutant that’s worrying scientists as it gains ground in India and pops up in numerous other countries, including the United States.

Scientists say the variant – called BA.2.75 – may be able to spread rapidly and get around immunity from vaccines and previous infection. It’s unclear whether it could cause more serious disease than other omicron variants, including the globally prominent BA.5.

“It’s still really early on for us to draw too many conclusions,” said Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “But it does look like, especially in India, the rates of transmission are showing kind of that exponential increase.” Whether it will outcompete BA.5, he said, is yet to be determined. 

Still, the fact that it has already been detected in many parts of the world even with lower levels of viral surveillance “is an early indication it is spreading,” said Shishi Luo, head of infectious diseases for Helix, a company that supplies viral sequencing information to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest mutant has been spotted in several distant states in India, and appears to be spreading faster than other variants there, said Lipi Thukral, a scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in New Delhi. It’s also been detected in about 10 other countries, including Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada. Two cases were recently identified on the West Coast of the U.S., and Helix identified a third U.S. case last week. Fueling experts’ concerns are a large number of mutations separating this new variant from omicron predecessors. Some of those mutations are in areas that relate to the spike protein and could allow the virus to bind onto cells more efficiently, Binnicker said. 

Another concern is that the genetic tweaks may make it easier for the virus to skirt past antibodies — protective proteins made by the body in response to a vaccine or infection from an earlier variant. 

But experts say vaccines and boosters are still the best defense against severe COVID-19. In the fall it’s likely the U.S. will see updated formulations of the vaccine being developed that target more recent omicron strains.

“Some may say, ‘Well, vaccination and boosting hasn’t prevented people from getting infected.’ And, yes, that is true,” he said. “But what we have seen is that the rates of people ending up in the hospital and dying have significantly decreased. As more people have been vaccinated, boosted or naturally infected, we are starting to see the background levels of immunity worldwide creep up.”

It may take several weeks to get a sense of whether the latest omicron mutant may affect the trajectory of the pandemic. Meanwhile Dr. Gagandeep Kang, who studies viruses at India’s Christian Medical College in Vellore, said the growing concern over the variant underlines the need for more sustained efforts to track and trace viruses that combine genetic efforts with real world information about who is getting sick and how badly. “It is important that surveillance isn’t a start-stop strategy,” she said.

Luo said BA.2.75 is another reminder that the coronavirus is continually evolving – and spreading. 

“We would like to return to pre-pandemic life, but we still need to be careful,” she said. “ We need to accept that we’re now living with a higher level of risk than we used to.”

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy Wants To Fix America’s Mental Health Crisis

When he was first named surgeon general in 2014, he traveled the country for a listening tour to learn how he could help. The “Nation’s Doctor” heard about addiction, obesity, cancer and heart disease – and, to his surprise, loneliness.

“It resonated with me personally, because I certainly struggled with loneliness throughout my own life,” says Murthy. “It’s so hard to tell from the outside world what’s happening inside. Many of us just try to put on a brave face.”

It’s still unusual for political leaders to talk about mental health, unless it’s a deflection from even more uncomfortable truths. But Murthy is different because . . . well, he was different.

As an Indian American growing up in Miami, he was an excellent student, but he worried about not having anyone to sit next to in the cafeteria. The food in his lunch bag was different from what the other kids had. His skin tone was different. His parents were different. “When you’re really shy and when your self-esteem is as low as it was for me as a child,” he says, “I knew those differences made me feel like I didn’t belong.”

That, of course, was before his degrees from Harvard and Yale and his appointment by President Barack Obama as the youngest-ever surgeon general. It was also before the pandemic, during which 10 of his family members have died of COVID-19. This country’s emotional health – arguably more damaged after the past two years of fear and loathing – is the reason he accepted President Joe Biden’s offer last year to serve a second term.

So Murthy goes to conferences and hospitals and schools and Twitter and anywhere else, wearing the military uniform of the Public Health Service, to explain that social connections are as vital to our health as food or water. He appeared with first lady Jill Biden to talk about youth mental health and with Vice President Kamala Harris to highlight burnout among health-care workers. Given the enormity of the crisis, it’s hard to gauge whether he’s making a dent. Murthy is that guy on the beach, throwing starfish back in the ocean one at a time.

“The pandemic has been tragic, but one silver lining of it is that I think it has compelled many people to look at the world and their lives differently,” he says – and ask how we can create a society that supports mental health and well-being. “That’s why I’m here.” Without the determination of his paternal grandfather, Murthy might have been a poor farmer in India.

As a widower in a small village, his grandfather raised six children after his wife died of tuberculosis. There was no money, but he wanted his sons to become a doctor, engineer, an agriculture expert. “In those days in India, you did what your dad told you to do,” says Murthy. And so his father went to medical school, and then to England – where Murthy was born – to pay off his student loans, and finally to Florida.

“I always say that if life was governed by a probability, he would be a farmer, I would be a farmer, and we would still be there in the village,” says Murthy, 44, whose mother is also from India. “You realize you can’t take anything for granted, that when you are blessed with such an improbable opportunity, you want to make the most of it.”

Instead, Murthy‘s father is a doctor, his sister is a doctor, he’s a doctor – and he married a doctor. In high school, he and his sister built a program around HIV education; at Harvard, he founded an organization to bring that information to this country and India. After medical school at Yale, he practiced in Boston and advocated for affordable health care. His soft-spoken exterior belies his fierce drive, although he doesn’t think of himself as an overachiever. He says, “My days of frustration usually stem from moments where I don’t feel like I’m doing enough to achieve my full potential.”

In 2013, Obama asked him to become the 19th surgeon general. Some critics thought the 36-year-old was too inexperienced; the National Rifle Association opposed his nomination because he called gun violence a public health threat. He was narrowly confirmed the following year.

He stepped into an office, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, with no tangible power and no budget to fund specific initiatives. It’s a bully pulpit that rarely makes headlines unless someone is outraged by one of the advisories. But occasionally, there’s real change: In 1964, the surgeon general issued a landmark report linking cigarettes to cancer and heart disease. C. Everett Koop became a household name in the 1980s for his colorful and sometimes-blunt warnings against smoking and for HIV/AIDS education.

David Satcher, who served as surgeon general for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, persuaded Clinton to issue an overdue apology for the Tuskegee study that exploited Black men. Satcher says Murthy brings an unusual mix of science and reflection to the job. “It’s not a perfect relationship between the surgeon general and the American people,” he says. Still, he adds, “How many lives have been saved because of the surgeon general’s report on smoking and health?”

Murthy dived in, tackling addiction, obesity, Ebola and climate change. He overhauled the website to make it easier for the public to understand the reports produced by the office. He spent a lot of time giving speeches and doing media – including an appearance with Elmo on “Sesame Street” on childhood vaccinations.

Three years later, he watched a once-in-a century pandemic kill 10 of his extended family members in the United States and India. One was a favorite uncle – one of the few relatives Murthy had in this country growing up, and the person who first told him about the Public Health Service.

“It made COVID very personal,” he says. “But it also helped me feel a bit of the pain that millions of families around the country are experiencing. I think about the fact that more than 160,000 kids have lost a caregiver to COVID-19, and that the depths of pain that our country experienced are profound. When you’ve experienced personal loss with COVID, it prevents you from forgetting that easily. I do worry about that, because we’re in a time where we want to move past covid and leave it behind.”

In February, his 4-year-old daughter tested positive; Murthy, along with his wife, Alice, and 5-year-old son – all vaccinated – soon followed. Their symptoms were mild, but it was still stressful.

“You know what has made this experience easier?” Murthy said in a Mister Rogers-esque tweet. “The kindness of friends. It’s extraordinary how a few words or a few minutes of conversation can lift our spirits for days. COVID reminds me that our relationships can heal. We all have the power to heal because we can all be kind.”

During his first stint as surgeon general, Murthy was a newlywed but, again, lonely – although he didn’t realize it at the time.

“There were times in my life where my work was so intense and busy that I allowed my connections with people to wither and to diminish – that happened when I was surgeon general,” he says. “I told myself, ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have a real chance to make a contribution here to society. Let me do everything I can. Let me put every hour into this job.’ ”

But that meant he had less time for friends. Even when he was with family he was distracted, on his computer or phone: “It took a toll that I didn’t fully appreciate until much later, and it actually informed why I operate differently now.” The realization that he had neglected the people that mean the most to him – the ones who contribute the most to his mental health – was sobering. He resolved to do better and wrote a book, “Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World.”

The other big change? Two small children not yet willing to share him for the greater good. He tries to be home for dinner and bedtime stories, and then work after the kids are asleep. “I always tell my team, ‘You will get emails from me at weird hours, but don’t feel obligated to respond in those times.’ ” He tries to limit travel to one a week – and yet: “My son, almost every time I have to go on a trip, holds on to my shirt and looks into my eyes and says, ‘Why do you keep leaving me?’ Which is heartbreaking.”

These emotional truths all factored into his decision when Biden asked Murthy to serve again as his surgeon general. The two men – both highly empathetic, both willing to talk about their emotions publicly – had known each other for years, but really bonded in the spring of 2020 when Murthy advised the presidential candidate on how best to respond to the escalating coronavirus threat.

Murthy and former Food and Drug Administration head David Kessler would stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning to prepare to brief Biden together. Kessler says Murthy had the ability to synthesize complicated medical information and communicate it in a way that made it very accessible – but a sensitivity that informed the discussions: “It’s very much a part of his soul.”

“He has a way of just asking a question or two, a gentle way of changing the direction of a policy,” says Kessler. “He’s been involved quietly in every hard decision along the way.”

In a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Biden said Murthy is advocating “significant mental health proposals relating to people who are . . . not knowing where they’re going, not knowing how to respond, not knowing how to act.”

Working to contain the pandemic took up most of his first year in office, although most of the public attention and attacks were directed at Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser. Now Murthy is leaning heavily into mental health initiatives, the unfinished business of his first term.

“I was hearing about it constantly, in small towns and big cities all across America, people were saying that it just feels like we’re more and more disconnected from one another,” he says. He’s especially worried about teen mental health, which worsened during the pandemic, according to a report his office released in December, and increases in anxiety and depression in the broader population, according to the Government Accountability Office.

He’s also up against misinformation and mistrust, which makes it harder to persuade millions of Americans to adopt proven public health measures such as vaccines – and affects their physical and mental health. “I see them as victims of a broader information environment that’s been polluted, in some cases willfully, in some cases inadvertently by technology.”

Last year, Murthy and his colleagues launched efforts to win over vaccine skeptics, but it’s impossible to know whether their approach made any real impact in such a polarized country.

How to change hearts and minds? Listen more, talk less. He’s trying to mobilize legislators, companies and community organizations to foster real connections, not the false intimacy of social media. “I’m under no illusion that that one trip is going to change that community’s life and their health forever,” he says. But he hopes that those visits inspire partnerships with trusted institutions such as faith groups, hospitals and charities to reach people in ways no government official ever could.

Murthy likes to use a word seldom heard around Washington: love.

“I feel fundamentally human beings are driven by one or two forces: love or fear,” he explains. “Love manifests as compassion and generosity and kindness, and fear as its own manifestations of insecurity and jealousy and rage. I think we are better off and the people around us are better off when we’re operating from a place of love.” That’s why he talks about love. The question, of course, is whether anyone is listening.

How Much Health Insurers Pay For Almost Everything Is About To Go Public

Consumers, employers and just about everyone else interested in health care prices will soon get an unprecedented look at what insurers pay for care, perhaps helping answer a question that has long dogged those who buy insurance: Are we getting the best deal we can?

Starting July 1, health insurers and self-insured employers must post on websites just about every price they’ve negotiated with providers for health care services, item by item. About the only exclusion is the prices paid for prescription drugs, except those administered in hospitals or doctors’ offices.

The federally required data release could affect future prices or even how employers contract for health care. Many will see for the first time how well their insurers are doing compared with others.

The new rules are far broader than those that went into effect last year requiring hospitals to post their negotiated rates for the public to see. Now insurers must post the amounts paid for “every physician in network, every hospital, every surgery center, every nursing facility,” said Jeffrey Leibach, a partner at the consulting firm Guidehouse.

“When you start doing the math, you’re talking trillions of records,” he said. The fines the federal government could impose for noncompliance are also heftier than the penalties that hospitals face.

Federal officials learned from the hospital experience and gave insurers more direction on what was expected, said Leibach. Insurers or self-insured employers could be fined as much as $100 a day for each violation and each affected enrollee if they fail to provide the data. “Get your calculator out: All of a sudden you are in the millions pretty fast,” Leibach said.

Determined consumers, especially those with high-deductible health plans, may try to dig in right away and use the data to try comparing what they will have to pay at different hospitals, clinics, or doctor offices for specific services.

But each database’s enormous size may mean that most people “will find it very hard to use the data in a nuanced way,” said Katherine Baicker, dean of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

At least at first, Entrepreneurs are expected to quickly translate the information into more user-friendly formats so it can be incorporated into new or existing services that estimate costs for patients. And starting Jan. 1, the rules require insurers to provide online tools that will help people get upfront cost estimates for about 500 so-called “shoppable” services, meaning medical care they can schedule ahead of time.

Once those things happen, “you’ll at least have the options in front of you,” said Chris Severn, CEO of Turquoise Health, an online company that has posted price information made available under the rules for hospitals, although many hospitals have yet to comply.

With the addition of the insurers’ data, sites like his will be able to drill down further into cost variation from one place to another or among insurers.

“If you’re going to get an X-ray, you will be able to see that you can do it for $250 at this hospital, $75 at the imaging center down the road, or your specialist can do it in office for $25,” he said.

Everyone will know everyone else’s business: for example, how much insurers Aetna and Humana pay the same surgery center for a knee replacement. The requirements stem from the Affordable Care Act and a 2019 executive order by then-President Donald Trump.

“These plans are supposed to be acting on behalf of employers in negotiating good rates, and the little insight we have on that shows it has not happened,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, president and CEO of the Purchaser Business Group on Health, an affiliation of employers who offer job-based health benefits to workers. “I do believe the dynamics are going to change.”

Other observers are more circumspect.

“Maybe at best this will reduce the wide variance of prices out there,” said Zack Cooper, director of health policy at the Yale University Institution for Social and Policy Studies. “But it won’t be unleashing a consumer revolution.”

Still, the biggest value of the July data release may well be to shed light on how successful insurers have been at negotiating prices. It comes on the heels of research that has shown tremendous variation in what is paid for health care. A recent study by the Rand Corp., for example, shows that employers that offer job-based insurance plans paid, on average, 224% more than Medicare for the same services.

Tens of thousands of employers who buy insurance coverage for their workers will get this more-complete pricing picture — and may not like what they see.

“What we’re learning from the hospital data is that insurers are really bad at negotiating,” said Gerard Anderson, a professor in the department of health policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, citing research that found that negotiated rates for hospital care can be higher than what the facilities accept from patients who are not using insurance and are paying cash.

That could add to the frustration that Mitchell and others say employers have with the current health insurance system. More might try to contract with providers directly, only using insurance companies for claims processing. Other employers may bring their insurers back to the bargaining table.

“For the first time, an employer will be able to go to an insurance company and say, ‘You have not negotiated a good-enough deal, and we know that because we can see the same provider has negotiated a better deal with another company,'” said James Gelfand, president of the ERISA Industry Committee, a trade group of self-insured employers.

If that happens, he added, “patients will be able to save money.” That’s not necessarily a given, however.

Because this kind of public release of pricing data hasn’t been tried widely in health care before, how it will affect future spending remains uncertain. If insurers are pushed back to the bargaining table or providers see where they stand relative to their peers, prices could drop. However, some providers could raise their prices if they see they are charging less than their peers.

“Downward pressure may not be a given,” said Kelley Schultz, vice president of commercial policy for AHIP, the industry’s trade lobby.

Baicker, of the University of Chicago, said that even after the data is out, rates will continue to be heavily influenced by local conditions, such as the size of an insurer or employer — providers often give bigger discounts, for example, to the insurers or self-insured employers that can send them the most patients. The number of hospitals in a region also matters — if an area has only one, for instance, that usually means the facility can demand higher rates.

Another unknown: Will insurers meet the deadline and provide usable data?

Schultz, at AHIP, said the industry is well on the way, partly because the original deadline was extended by six months. She expects insurers to do better than the hospital industry. “We saw a lot of hospitals that just decided not to post files or make them difficult to find,” she said.

So far, more than 300 noncompliant hospitals have received warning letters from the government. But they could face $300-a-day fines for failing to comply, which is less than what insurers potentially face, although the federal government has recently upped the ante to up to $5,500 a day for the largest facilities.

Even after the pricing data is public, “I don’t think things will change overnight,” said Leibach. “Patients are still going to make care decisions based on their doctors and referrals, a lot of reasons other than price.”

(This story was produced by The Hill in partnership with Kaiser Health News. KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. It is an editorially independent operating program of Kaiser Family Foundation).

Rep. Pramila Jayapal Highlights South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Bill, While Promising Full Support To AAPI In Its Efforts

“With your help and advocacy, we will pass this Bill in the Full House next month,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal told delegates of the American Association of Physcians of Indian Origin (AAPI) during the 40th annual Convention held in San Antonio, TX on Saturday, June 25th, 2022. While expressing gratitude and appreciation to the physical fraternity for being in the frontline, especially during the Covid Pandemic, the first ever woman Congress Representative of South Asian Origin, Rep. Jayapal, who is the Chair of Democratic Caucus said, “One of the legislations I have been very passionate about has been the Bill I had introduced in the Congress, South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act,” which has now been  passed by the subcommittee of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee, and she was hopeful that will pass the full House next month.

“As the first South Asian American woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, I am fully committed to not only raising awareness and educating the South Asian community about the risk factors for heart disease but also ensuring that those living with heart disease receive the care, treatment, resources and support they need,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “I am proud that this urgently necessary legislation passed committee and I won’t stop fighting until it becomes law.”

Heart disease is the number one Global Public Health problem. South Asians are at a four-times greater risk of heart disease than their western counterparts and have a greater chance of having a heart attack before 50 years of age, says a . Heart attacks strike South Asian Men and Women at younger ages, and as a result, both morbidity and mortality are higher among them compared to any other ethnic group. They tend to develop heart disease ten years earlier than other groups.” 

Dr. Ravi Kolli, the new President of AAPI, pointed out, “While South Asians make up only 23% of the global population, they account for 60% of all heart disease cases. And, tragically, the mortality rate for heart disease is a staggering 40% higher among South Asians. South Asian Americans are four times more likely to suffer from heart disease than most people, and experience heart problems nearly decade earlier on average.”

Among the many issues, AAPI has been focused on in recent times, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, immediate past President of AAPI, said, “Creating awareness about this major health issue among South Asian Americans has been a major task undertaken by several not-for-profit organizations, including the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States.” 

Dr. Kolli thanked Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal for her efforts in introducing the critical legislation, South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act, which has now passed the subcommittee of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 11 and is now set to advance to the full House and for working with her colleagues to ensure its passage. 

The South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act (H.R. 3131) is aimed at providing grants of up to $1 million per year to fund research and prevention of heart disease in South Asian communities. The bill establishes, or authorizes to be established, programs that support heart-disease research and awareness among communities disproportionately affected by heart disease, including the South Asian population of the United States.

As per the Bill, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must award grants to states for awareness initiatives, educational materials, and research catalogs regarding the prevalence of heart disease, including the association of type 2 diabetes, with respect to the South Asian population and other at-risk populations. The bill would raise awareness about the alarming rate of heart disease in South Asian communities in the United States while investing in strategies to reverse this deadly trend. 

Studies have shown that South Asians in the United States—people who immigrated from or whose families immigrated from countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal—are experiencing a dramatic rise in heart disease. South Asians make up 25 percent of the world’s population but 50 percent of global cardiovascular deaths. Additionally, South Asian Americans are four times more at risk of developing heart disease than the general population, have a much greater chance of having a heart attack before age 50 and have emerged as the ethnic group with the highest prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, which is a leading cause of heart disease.

Representative Jayapal’s legislation would do the following:

  • Direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to create grants, such as South Asian Heart Health Promotion Grants at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide funding for community groups involved in South Asian heart health promotion and to develop culturally appropriate materials to promote heart health in the South Asian community.
  • Direct the HHS Secretary to fund grants through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research on cardiovascular disease and other heart ailments among communities disproportionately affected by heart disease, such as South Asian populations living in the United States, and develop a clearinghouse and web portal of information on heart health research, such as South Asian heart health.

The bipartisan legislation—originally introduced in 2017 with Republican Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02)—has 40 co-sponsors in the House and is endorsed by the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, American Stroke Association, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, South Asian Public Health Association, Hindu American Foundation, Hindu American Physicians in Seva, South Asian Health Lifestyle Intervention, MASALA, AAPCHO, Mended Hearts, Bangladesh Medical Association of North America and South Asian Heart Center, and American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).  

 For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org. Please watch the Video Link at: (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N_WzV9dcKPQuViGO5fNYul3TMn_C_4Zr/view )

Focusing On ‘Heal The Healers,’ AAPI’s Historic 40th Convention Concludes In San Antonio

The historic 40th annual convention organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) concluded at the world-famous Riverwalk Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio in Texas on Saturday, June 25th, 2022 with a Gala Bollywood Nite, during which a new Leadership Team led by Dr. Ravi Kolli assumed charge of the four decades old premier Medical Organization, representing the strong and powerful 120,000 physicians of Indian heritage. 

The four days long annual convention and scientific assembly, attended by over 10,000 AAPI delegates, while celebrating the achievements of the Indian American Physicians, focused on the theme, “Physician Heal Thyself” with several unique and first-of-a-kind opportunities to help AAPI members self-care, especially in the context of Covid related physicians burn out, paid tributes and celebrated freedom and democracy, honoring India and its  75 years of Independence Day celebrations- co-sponsored by the Embassy of India & the Consulate General of India (CGI) – Houston.

“AAPI’s strength is its numbers and members. Our Sakthi is in our Samkhya and our Sabhyas,” Dr. Ravi Kolli stated in his inaugural address immediately after he assumed charge as the 41st President of AAPI. “You are that powerful threads of this colorful and strong fabric, and your participation and contributions are essential for its continued success. So, thank you all,” Dr. Kolli told AAPI delegates and distinguished guests who had packed the Ball Room at the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center during the Presidential Gala. 

Dr. Kolli  will work with Dr. Anjana Sammadar, President-Elect; Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President; Dr. Meherbala Medavaram, Secretary and Dr. Sumul Raval, Treasurer of AAPI for the year 2022-23. Dr. V. Ranga will serve as the Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees. Giving representation and strengthening the voice of young physicians of Indian origin, Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala will serve as the President, AAPI Young Physicians Section (YPS) and Dr. Ammu Susheela is the President of AAPI- Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section (MSRF). Dr. Anupama Gotimukula will serve as the Immediate Past President of AAPI. 

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the Immediate Past President of AAPI said, “Our leadership team has worked diligently on so many wonderful projects and activities including educational, philanthropic, legislative, networking, and many more activities benefitting our members and communities. This has been possible because of the incredible work and support from the dedicated team of leaders, members, and our supporting office staff,” the only 4th woman President of AAPI in the four decades long history of AAPI, said. 

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The 2022 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr.  Jayesh Shah, Chair of AAPI Convention 2022. Dr. Shah praised the dedication and generosity of each member for giving their best, to make this Convention truly a memorable one for every participant.

Put together by a highly talented and dedicated team of Convention Committee members, the convention was filled with programs and activities that cater to the body, mind and soul. The Convention was a unique experience for everyone, Dr. Sathessh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said. 

During the BOT luncheon chaired by Dr. Kusum Punjabi, the youngest ever to hold the position, handed over the office to the new Chair, Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga. In her address, Dr. Punjabi highlighted the many initiatives under her leadership. She said, “The Board of Trustees this year has launched the AAPI Medical Project Grant (MPG). The purpose of this grant is to financially support AAPI medical students/residents/fellows/young physicians in various medical projects such as observerships, community service projects, entrepreneurships, innovation developments, etc.:

Dr. V. Ranga in his address he said, “My goal in the coming year is to formalize and create AAPI leadership academy working with executives from American College of Physicians for the development of leadership roles for all AAPI members. I want to work hard to engage young physicians and attract them to AAPI. They are the future of AAPI.”

Dr. Surender Purohit, Chair of AAPI’s Charitable Foundation provided a brief summary of the many initiatives AAPI has undertaken in recent years, especially benefitting the remotest villages in the country.

Welcoming AAPI delegates to San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, declared June 24th as AAPI Day and International Yoga Day in the City of San Antonio. While praising AAPI and its members for their contributions, Nirenberg said, “We are honored to host the largest gathering of Indian American physicians in our vibrant city, home to some of the best healthcare facilities in the nation.”

AAPI delegates had a rare glimpse to the rich cultural heritage of India through a video presentation depicting the unique diversity of India and a variety of mesmerizing performances of Indian/Mexican Fusion Dances, ranging from Bharatnatyam, folk dances, and the traditional Indian dances in sync with Mexican pop dances, which were a treat to the hearts and souls  of everyone. National Spieling Bee Champion 2022 Harini Logan was recognized during the convention Gala. 

In his keynote address, Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu lauded the several initiatves of AAPI over the past four decades and said, “Over the past four decades, AAPI has been doing an outstanding job in advocacy and health education. You play an important role, especially during the Covid Pandemic/” Speaking at length on the growing Indo-US relationship, the veteran diplomat said, “Over the last two decades, India and the United States have overcome the hesitations of history and fashioned a remarkable partnership, built on a bipartisan consensus in the U.S. and cross-party support in India.” Elaborating on the collaboration between India and the US, he said, “From the provision of active pharmaceutical ingredients to generic medicines that have lowered drug prices and created jobs and investments, India has demonstrated its reliability as a supply chain partner, especially as de-risking from single country supplies has become a priority.”

Aseem Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston, referred to the significance of “India and the United States, the two most vibrant democracies, representing two great multicultural societies with shared values, who are natural partners” working together in several areas of interest to both the nations.

Dr. Jack Resneck, President of American Medical Association praised the contributions and achievements of Indian American physicians, who serve and provide best healthcare to every 7th patient in the United States. “It’s time our nation renews our commitment to you for the incredible services you provide to our nation,” he said. During a Plenary session, he provided a detailed description of the many steps AMA has been undertaking to root out the causes for physician burn out and enhance healthcare delivery in the nation through education and advocacy at the state and national levels. 

Keynote speaker, Little Master Sunil Gavaskar was introduced by Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention. Gavaskar, a record holder of numerous international Cricket matches, in his address said, “Yours is the greatest of all professions in the world. You have put your lives at risk during the Pandemic to save the lives of others. Yours is the noble profession that I have admired always.” 

Dr. Rahul Gupta, the nation’s “drug czar” and top drug policy official, while conveying the greetings from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris praised the contributions of Indian American Physicians. “The role of the Drug Czar has never been as critical as it’s today,” he told the AAPI delegates, who have been advocating for prize control of drugs to contain overall healthcare costs. “AS physicians of Indian Origin, we have learnt  to find simple solutions to complex problems. We need 21st century solutions to 21st century problems.” And he encouraged his colleagues to think and find ways to make a difference in the healthcare delivery in the country. 

Others who addressed the Convention included Dr. Bobby Mukamala, Chair of BOT at American Medical Association, Congressman Joaquin Castro from Texas, and Peter Jay Hortez,, who was part of the plenart session on “Covid Vaccination Globally and Vaccine Hesitancy.” 

In her spiritual discourse, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author, while pointing to how we are creating a vicious negative health through fear, stress and anxiety in this country, her message today was to focus on the Synonym for HEALTH: Health, Embrace, Allow, Love, Time for yourself, and Help others. 

In his live video message, Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga, told AAPI leaders as to how “each of you have sacrificed your life. I congratulate the organizers for focusing on heal the healers and using Yoga our traditional method to help us in our daily lives.” Referring to the 7th anniversary of India’s Independence he said, “It must help us transcend all that divide us on the basis of caste, creed and status.” 

The much anticipated wellness package in collaboration with all the 10 City Council Districts of San Antonio, TX and Mayor Ron Nirenberg and iDoYoga San Antonio organized its flagship Free Yoga Classes and Education on the benefits and ways to make yoga a part of one’s daily life during the course of the entire convention. The convention was focused on themes such as how to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession. 

Led by internationally famed yoga gurus, including  Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author; Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga; and, Eddie Stern, Yoga teacher, speaker and author, the highly anticipated and popular Yoga on the famous Riverwalk was part of the global celebration of the 8th International Day of Yoga (IDY).

Some of the major themes at the convention included: Yoga and Meditation practices, Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, Ailment based yoga therapy sessions, Workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine. Yoga gurus and experts leading the wellness sessions include Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and Dr. Param Dedhia.

Dr. Anjana Sammadar, President-Elect , pointed out: “There was a sense of joy and relief on the faces of the over 1,000 physicians who have come together to celebrate their achievements, contributions, and to network and deepen their relationship even as the Covid Pandemic is waning and people are able to mingle freely and interact with one another cautiously.” 

 AAPI delegates attended a multidisciplinary CME conference that allowed specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers discussed gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions. 

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI said, as many as CME credit hours have been provided by outstanding speakers all year and provided cutting edge CMEs to members. He thanked the Chicago Medical Society, Dr. Vemuri Murthy, Dr. Amit Chakraborty, CME Chair  and Dr. Sagar Galvankar, & Co-Chair for their diligent efforts all the prominent speakers who shared their expertise with AAPI delegates. 

Dr. Meherbala Medavaram said, some of the major events at the convention included: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, AAPI Got Talent, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Poster/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

According to Dr. Sumul Raval, the convention offered a venue for Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally to convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year.

The panelists at the prestigious Women’s Forum included: Dr. Juby A. Jacob-Nara, a Public Health Physician, Vice President and Head of Global Medical Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology (Sanofi-Genzyme); Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Endowed Professor for Pulmonary Disorders, Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Sowjanya Mohan, Group Chief Medical Officer, Texas Group/Tenet Health; and, Ms. Rosemary Hickman, Semmes Foundation Education Manager at the Mcnay Art Museum.

The CEOs Forum moderated by Dr. Joseph Chalil had a panel of Industry Leaders including: Dr. Juby A Jacob-Nara, Vice President, Head of Global Medical- Sanofi-Genzyme; Robert Mattchione, from NOVA; Dr. Monika Kapur; Ms. Rebecca Seidel. Medtronix; and Mario Ball. A pioneering AAPI Medical Leadership Council is being formed to collaborate with Industry leaders and to be the voice of healthcare providers, said Dr. Chalil. 

Mehfil gave AAPI members to showcase their skills. Dr. Satheesh Kathula in the incoming Vice President of API was declared the winner of the contest. During the popular Fashion Parade presented by world renowned fashion designer Archana Kochar had beautiful and handsome young men and women wearing handmade colorful apparel made by villagers in Madhya Pradesh, cat walked on the ramp.     

Dozens of local children from ages 8 to 16, trained by Yoga Masters in San Antonio by presenting and demonstrating multiple Yoga Aasanas to the tune of Vande Mataram provided valuable education on Yoga and its importance in life. Every evening the popular AAPI Got Talent and each day of the convention had a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates showcased one’s own state dress code. Heritage India was the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus was on the much loved Bollywood with special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, The cuisine served each will day match the theme chosen for each day.

Dr. Jagan Ailinani was honored with Life Time Achievement Award. The Distinguished Physician Award was given to Dr. Vijay Yeldandi and AAPI’s Most Distinguished Award was given to Dr. Ravindra Nathan.  AAPI’s Most Distinguished YPS Award was given to Dr. Sejal Hathi and the AAPI’s Most Distinguished MSRF Award was given to Aaiswariya Gulani. r. Gotimukula honored Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy and AAPI’s Legal Advisor with Presidential Awards for their dedication and support during her presidency.

“Welcome to Philadelphia for the 41st annual convention which will provide you all with extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking at the al and evening social events,” Dr. Ravi Kolli announced. For more details, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

 

By, Ajay Ghosh

Celebrating The Achievements Of Indian American Physicians, AAPI’s Historic 40th Convention Concludes In San Antonio

(San Antonio, Tx. June 26, 2022) The historic 40th annual convention organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) concluded at the world-famous Riverwalk Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio in Texas on Saturday, June 25th, 2022 with a Gala Bollywood Nite, during which a new Leadership Team led by Dr. Ravi Kolli assumed charge of the four decades old premier Medical Organization, representing the strong and powerful 120,000 physicians of Indian heritage.

The four days long annual convention and scientific assembly, attended by over 10,000 AAPI delegates, while celebrating the achievements of the Indian American Physicians, focused on the theme, “Physician Heal Thyself” with several unique and first-of-a-kind opportunities to help AAPI members self-care, especially in the context of Covid related physicians burn out, paid tributes and celebrated freedom and democracy, honoring India and its  75 years of Independence Day celebrations- co-sponsored by the Embassy of India & the Consulate General of India (CGI) – Houston.

“AAPI’s strength is its numbers and members. Our Sakthi is in our Samkhya and our Sabhyas,” Dr. Ravi Kolli stated in his inaugural address immediately after he assumed charge as the 41st President of AAPI. “You are that powerful threads of this colorful and strong fabric, and your participation and contributions are essential for its continued success. So, thank you all,” Dr. Kolli told AAPI delegates and distinguished guests who had packed the Ball Room at the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center during the Presidential Gala.

Dr. Kolli  will work with Dr. Anjana Sammadar, President-Elect; Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President; Dr. Meherbala Medavaram, Secretary and Dr. Sumul Raval, Treasurer of AAPI for the year 2022-23. Dr. V. Ranga will serve as the Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees. Giving representation and strengthening the voice of young physicians of Indian origin, Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala will serve as the President, AAPI Young Physicians Section (YPS) and Dr. Ammu Susheela is the President of AAPI- Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section (MSRF). Dr. Anupama Gotimukula will serve as the Immediate Past President of AAPI.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the Immediate Past President of AAPI said, “Our leadership team has worked diligently on so many wonderful projects and activities including educational, philanthropic, legislative, networking, and many more activities benefitting our members and communities. This has been possible because of the incredible work and support from the dedicated team of leaders, members, and our supporting office staff,” the only 4th woman President of AAPI in the four decades long history of AAPI, said.

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The 2022 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr.  Jayesh Shah, Chair of AAPI Convention 2022. Dr. Shah praised the dedication and generosity of each member for giving their best, to make this Convention truly a memorable one for every participant.

Put together by a highly talented and dedicated team of Convention Committee members, the convention was filled with programs and activities that cater to the body, mind and soul. The Convention was a unique experience for everyone, Dr. Sathessh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said.

During the BOT luncheon chaired by Dr. Kusum Punjabi, the youngest ever to hold the position, handed over the office to the new Chair, Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga. In her address, Dr. Punjabi highlighted the many initiatives under her leadership. She said, “The Board of Trustees this year has launched the AAPI Medical Project Grant (MPG). The purpose of this grant is to financially support AAPI medical students/residents/fellows/young physicians in various medical projects such as observerships, community service projects, entrepreneurships, innovation developments, etc.:

Dr. V. Ranga in his address he said, “My goal in the coming year is to formalize and create AAPI leadership academy working with executives from American College of Physicians for the development of leadership roles for all AAPI members. I want to work hard to engage young physicians and attract them to AAPI. They are the future of AAPI.”

Dr. Surender Purohit, Chair of AAPI’s Charitable Foundation provided a brief summary of the many initiatives AAPI has undertaken in recent years, especially benefitting the remotest villages in the country.

Welcoming AAPI delegates to San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, declared June 24th as AAPI Day and International Yoga Day in the City of San Antonio. While praising AAPI and its members for their contributions, Nirenberg said, “We are honored to host the largest gathering of Indian American physicians in our vibrant city, home to some of the best healthcare facilities in the nation.”

AAPI delegates had a rare glimpse to the rich cultural heritage of India through a video presentation depicting the unique diversity of India and a variety of mesmerizing performances of Indian/Mexican Fusion Dances, ranging from Bharatnatyam, folk dances, and the traditional Indian dances in sync with Mexican pop dances, which were a treat to the hearts and souls  of everyone. National Spieling Bee Champion 2022 Harini Logan was recognized during the convention Gala.

In his keynote address, Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu lauded the several initiatves of AAPI over the past four decades and said, “Over the past four decades, AAPI has been doing an outstanding job in advocacy and health education. You play an important role, especially during the Covid Pandemic/” Speaking at length on the growing Indo-US relationship, the veteran diplomat said, “Over the last two decades, India and the United States have overcome the hesitations of history and fashioned a remarkable partnership, built on a bipartisan consensus in the U.S. and cross-party support in India.” Elaborating on the collaboration between India and the US, he said, “From the provision of active pharmaceutical ingredients to generic medicines that have lowered drug prices and created jobs and investments, India has demonstrated its reliability as a supply chain partner, especially as de-risking from single country supplies has become a priority.”

Aseem Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston, referred to the significance of “India and the United States, the two most vibrant democracies, representing two great multicultural societies with shared values, who are natural partners” working together in several areas of interest to both the nations.

Dr. Jack Resneck, President of American Medical Association praised the contributions and achievements of Indian American physicians, who serve and provide best healthcare to every 7th patient in the United States. “It’s time our nation renews our commitment to you for the incredible services you provide to our nation,” he said. During a Plenary session, he provided a detailed description of the many steps AMA has been undertaking to root out the causes for physician burn out and enhance healthcare delivery in the nation through education and advocacy at the state and national levels.

Keynote speaker, Little Master Sunil Gavaskar was introduced by Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention. Gavaskar, a record holder of numerous international Cricket matches, in his address said, “Yours is the greatest of all professions in the world. You have put your lives at risk during the Pandemic to save the lives of others. Yours is the noble profession that I have admired always.”

Dr. Rahul Gupta, the nation’s “drug czar” and top drug policy official, while conveying the greetings from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris praised the contributions of Indian American Physicians. “The role of the Drug Czar has never been as critical as it’s today,” he told the AAPI delegates, who have been advocating for prize control of drugs to contain overall healthcare costs. “AS physicians of Indian Origin, we have learnt  to find simple solutions to complex problems. We need 21st century solutions to 21st century problems.” And he encouraged his colleagues to think and find ways to make a difference in the healthcare delivery in the country.

Others who addressed the Convention included Dr. Bobby Mukamala, Chair of BOT at American Medical Association, Congressman Joaquin Castro from Texas, and Peter Jay Hortez,, who was part of the plenart session on “Covid Vaccination Globally and Vaccine Hesitancy.”

In her spiritual discourse, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author, while pointing to how we are creating a vicious negative health through fear, stress and anxiety in this country, her message today was to focus on the Synonym for HEALTH: Health, Embrace, Allow, Love, Time for yourself, and Help others.

In his live video message, Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga, told AAPI leaders as to how “each of you have sacrificed your life. I congratulate the organizers for focusing on heal the healers and using Yoga our traditional method to help us in our daily lives.” Referring to the 7th anniversary of India’s Independence he said, “It must help us transcend all that divide us on the basis of caste, creed and status.”

The much anticipated wellness package in collaboration with all the 10 City Council Districts of San Antonio, TX and Mayor Ron Nirenberg and iDoYoga San Antonio organized its flagship Free Yoga Classes and Education on the benefits and ways to make yoga a part of one’s daily life during the course of the entire convention. The convention was focused on themes such as how to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession.

Led by internationally famed yoga gurus, including  Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author; Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga; and, Eddie Stern, Yoga teacher, speaker and author, the highly anticipated and popular Yoga on the famous Riverwalk was part of the global celebration of the 8th International Day of Yoga (IDY).

Some of the major themes at the convention included: Yoga and Meditation practices, Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, Ailment based yoga therapy sessions, Workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine. Yoga gurus and experts leading the wellness sessions include Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and Dr. Param Dedhia.

Dr. Anjana Sammadar, President-Elect , pointed out: “There was a sense of joy and relief on the faces of the over 1,000 physicians who have come together to celebrate their achievements, contributions, and to network and deepen their relationship even as the Covid Pandemic is waning and people are able to mingle freely and interact with one another cautiously.”

AAPI delegates attended a multidisciplinary CME conference that allowed specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers discussed gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions.

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI said, as many as CME credit hours have been provided by outstanding speakers all year and provided cutting edge CMEs to members. He thanked the Chicago Medical Society, Dr. Vemuri Murthy, Dr. Amit Chakraborty, CME Chair  and Dr. Sagar Galvankar, & Co-Chair for their diligent efforts all the prominent speakers who shared their expertise with AAPI delegates.

Dr. Meherbala Medavaram said, some of the major events at the convention included: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, AAPI Got Talent, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Poster/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

According to Dr. Sumul Raval, the convention offered a venue for Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally to convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year.

The panelists at the prestigious Women’s Forum included: Dr. Juby A. Jacob-Nara, a Public Health Physician, Vice President and Head of Global Medical Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology (Sanofi-Genzyme); Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Endowed Professor for Pulmonary Disorders, Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Sowjanya Mohan, Group Chief Medical Officer, Texas Group/Tenet Health; and, Ms. Rosemary Hickman, Semmes Foundation Education Manager at the Mcnay Art Museum.

The CEOs Forum moderated by Dr. Joseph Chalil had a panel of Industry Leaders including: Dr. Juby A Jacob-Nara, Vice President, Head of Global Medical- Sanofi-Genzyme; Robert Mattchione, from NOVA; Dr. Monika Kapur; Ms. Rebecca Seidel. Medtronix; and Mario Ball. A pioneering AAPI Medical Leadership Council is being formed to collaborate with Industry leaders and to be the voice of healthcare providers, said Dr. Chalil.

Mehfil gave AAPI members to showcase their skills. Dr. Satheesh Kathula in the incoming Vice President of API was declared the winner of the contest. During the popular Fashion Parade presented by world renowned fashion designer Archana Kochar had beautiful and handsome young men and women wearing handmade colorful apparel made by villagers in Madhya Pradesh, cat walked on the ramp.

Dozens of local children from ages 8 to 16, trained by Yoga Masters in San Antonio by presenting and demonstrating multiple Yoga Aasanas to the tune of Vande Mataram provided valuable education on Yoga and its importance in life. Every evening the popular AAPI Got Talent and

Each day of the convention had a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates showcased one’s own state dress code. Heritage India was the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus was on the much loved Bollywood with special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, The cuisine served each will day match the theme chosen for each day.

Dr. Jagan Ailinani was honored with Life Time Achievement Award. The Distinguished Physician Award was given to Dr. Vijay Yeldandi and AAPI’s Most Distinguished Award was given to Dr. Ravindra Nathan.  AAPI’s Most Distinguished YPS Award was given to Dr. Sejal Hathi and the AAPI’s Most Distinguished MSRF Award was given to Aaiswariya Gulani. r. Gotimukula honored Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Dr. Sujeeth Punnam, Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy and AAPI’s Legal Advisor with Presidential Awards for their dedication and support during her presidency.

“Welcome to Philadelphia for the 41st annual convention which will provide you all with extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking at the al and evening social events,” Dr. Ravi Kolli announced. For more details, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

AAPI’s 40th Convention Inaugurated In San Antonio, TX

(San Antonio, TX. June 25, 2022) The historic 40th annual convention organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI)  was officially inaugurated with ribbon cutting and lighting of the traditional lamp at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio in Texas on Friday, June 24th, 2022, celebrating the achievements of Indian American Physicians and focusing on the theme, “Physician Heal Thyself” with several unique and first of a kind opportunities to help AAPI members self-care, especially in the context of Covid related physicians burn out.

Describing it to be a “historic 40th annual convention celebrating 40 years of AAPI and India’s 75 years of Independence in collaboration with the Indian Consulate in Houston and Indian Embassy with invited dignitaries from the US and India,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, the only 4th woman President of AAPI in the four decades-long history of AAP,  expressed gratitude to “the entire AAPI leadership and members for their participation in AAPI activities, making AAPI stronger.”

Dr. Jayesh Shah, Convention Chair and Past President of AAPI said in Texan style. “It is with great pleasure that I, along with the San Antonio -2022 Convention Team, welcome you to the 40th AAPI Annual Convention in San Antonio, the 8th largest city in the US. I still have vivid memories of inviting you to San Antonio in 2014. This is going to be the 4th convention in Texas.”

Welcoming AAPI delegates to San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, whom Dr. Jayesh Shah called as the next Governor of Texas, declared June 24th as AAPI Day and International Yoga Day in the City of San Antonio. While praising AAPI and its members for their contributions, Nirenberg said, “We are honored to host the largest gathering of Indian American physicians in our vibrant city, home to some of the best healthcare facilities in the nation.”

Addressing the evening gala, Aseem Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston, referred to the significance of “India and the United States, the two most vibrant democracies, representing two great multicultural societies with shared values, who are natural partners” working together in several areas of interest to both the nations.

He pointed to the immense opportunities for collaboration in healthcare between the US and India, as India is working towards “Expanding on the MedTech sector for global presence and position India as a global hub for medical devices.”

By encouraging manufacturing, innovation, and R&D based on emerging technological landscapes, and transforming India into a hub for medical devices, India may emerge as the “diagnostic capital of the world,” Mahajan said.

Dr. Jack Resneck, President of American Medical Association praised the contributions and achievements of Indian American physicians, who serve and provide best healthcare to every 7th patient in the United States. “It’s time our nation renews our commitment to you for the incredible services you provide to our nation,” he said. During a Plenary session, he provided a detailed description of the many steps AMA has been undertaking to root out the causes for physician burn out and enhance healthcare delivery in the nation through education and advocacy at the state and national levels.

Keynote speaker for the noon luncheon event, Little Master Sunil Gavaskar was introduced by Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention. Gavaskar, a record holder of numerous international Cricket matches, in his address shared with the audience about his own personal life story of how his life was “transformed” at birth. He said, “It’s a unique honor to be part of the important AAPI convention in Texas.”

Gavaskar said, he had wanted to be a Doctor as a youth, after he was a witness to how his aunt, a Doctor by profession had touched so many lives by the care she had provided. “Yours is the greatest of all professions in the world. You have put your lives at risk during the Pandemic to save the lives of others. Yours is the noble profession that I have admired always.”

He eloquently described the similarities between Cricketers and Physicians, especially for the need for preparations in cricket matches and surgery, the need for focus and concentration in  both the professions, the need for physical and mental fitness, choosing the right kind of movements and actions in both the fields, and so forth. However, a physician needs to have empathy with the patients, while a cricketer wants to achieve and win the game. Doctors serve for a very long time, the life span of a cricket’s professional life is very limited. A doctor’s work schedule is 24/7 – 365 days, while a cricketer’s professional life is seasonal. Gavaskar referred to his association with the Heart to Heart Foundation and how the Foundation is “touching many hearts around the world”.

In her spiritual discourse, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author, said, “It’s such a joy to be here. Such a deep gratitude. Covid did not create you as heroes, but you have been heroes all along.” Sharing her own personal journey, she said, we all have only one life and how her coming to the banks of the Himalayas, transformed her own lifafter having experienced the unique culture and wisdom of India. While pointing to how we are creating a vicious negative health through fear, stress and anxiety in this country, her message today was to focus on the Synonym for HEALTH: Health, Embrace, Allow, Love, Time for yourself, and Help others.

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati said, she flew in from the Banks of Mother Ganga where she celebrated International Yoga Day. “Let all of us together bring that practice of yoga and meditation into the practice of healthcare. Be the best for ourselves, for the community and for the universe,” she said.

In his live video message, Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga, told AAPI leaders as to how “each of you have sacrificed your life. I congratulate the organizers for focusing on heal the healers and using Yoga our traditional method to help us in our daily lives.” In his message, he said, “We all experience similar things in life, but respond from our inner self. How we tend to react to people and situations makes the difference.  When you abuse a situation it’s agitation, but when you use them effectively it’s liberation.” Referring to the 7th anniversary of India’s Independence he said, “It must help us transcend all that divide us on the basis of caste, creed and status.”

The Women’s Forum, organized by the Convention Committee led by Dr. Chaithanya Mallikarjun, Chair in association with the National AAPI Women Physicians Committee Chair, Dr. Seema Arora,  put together a galaxy of successful women, who shared with the AAPI delegates their own stories of growing up and facing challenges with conviction and courage, and have today become role models for other women around the world.

The panelists at the prestigious Women’s Forum included: Dr. Juby A. Jacob-Nara, a Public Health Physician, Vice President and Head of Global Medical Respiratory Allergy & Gastroenterology (Sanofi-Genzyme) who has been a part of over 50 new medicines successfully launched including vaccines in the US and globally; Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, Endowed Professor for Pulmonary Disorders, Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Sowjanya Mohan, Group Chief Medical Officer, Texas Group/Tenet Health; and, Ms. Rosemary Hickman, Semmes Foundation Education Manager at the Mcnay Art Museum.

Dozens of local children from ages 8 to 16, trained by Yoga Masters in San Antonio by presenting and demonstrating multiple Yoga Aasanas to the tune of Vande Mataram provided valuable education on Yoga and its importance in life. Every evening the popular AAPI Got Talent and Mehfil gave AAPI members to showcase their skills. Dr. Satheesh Kathula in the incoming Vice President of API was declared the winner of the contest. During the popular Fashion Parade presented by world renowned fashion designer Archana Kochar had beautiful and handsome young men and women wearing handmade colorful apparel made by villagers in Madhya Pradesh, cat walked on the ramp.

Some of the major themes at the convention include: Yoga and Meditation practices, Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, Ailment based yoga therapy sessions, Workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine. Yoga gurus and experts leading the wellness sessions include Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and Dr. Param Dedhia.

Each day of the convention has a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates showcased one’s own state dress code. Heritage India is the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus is on the much loved Bollywood with special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, The cuisine served each will day match the theme chosen for each day.

Some of the major events at the convention include: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, AAPI Got Talent, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Poster/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

AAPI delegates have the opportunity to attend a multidisciplinary CME conference that allows specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers discussed gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions.

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and from around the world have convened and are participating in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to help develop health policy agendas, and encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We are excited to have you in San Antonio!” said Dr. Gotimukula. “Representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians is 40 years old.” For more details, please visit:  https://aapiconvention.org

Dr. Ravi Kolli, The Incoming President Of AAPI Pledges To Keep AAPI Focused On Its Core Mission In A Transparent, Accountable, And Responsible Manner

“I pledge to all AAPI members that we shall not rest on our laurels and become complacent,” says Dr. Ravi Kolli, who will assume charge as the President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) during the historic 40th annual Convention on June 25th, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas. “I will work hard to keep AAPI focused on its core mission and conduct all of its activities and business beyond reproach in a transparent, accountable, and responsible manner.”

Dr. Ravi Kolli, a Board-Certified Psychiatrist with specializations in Addiction, Geriatrics, and Forensic Psychiatry, serving as the Psychiatric Medical Director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, was a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University. Dr. Kolli has over four decades of experience in the healthcare field. He graduated from Rangaraya Medical College, NTR University of Health Sciences Medical School in 1981. He is affiliated with medical facilities at the Washington Health System Greene and Washington Hospital.

Dr. Kolli’s association with AAPI began over two decades ago. “My good friends, Dr. Prabir Mullick and Dr. Krishna Kasi first introduced me to the local chapter of AAPI, and I became very involved.” Initially, he used his web designing skills to develop and maintain the website of the local chapter, their publications, and email blasts, which he continues to do. He was involved with his Alumni Chapter of Rangaraya Medical College, which boasts of over 500 active members, and became its President. Later, he was elected as the President of the Telugu Medical Graduates of USA and has done similar tasks besides leading them to greater heights.

“As I started attending AAPI national meetings and annual conventions in the past decade, I got to know the national AAPI national leadership teams and was impressed by their dedication and commitment. So, I got involved more and was later elected as the Regional Director, then as the national AAPI Secretary and eventually as the Vice President and now the President of the national AAPI.”

Dr. Kolli understands the importance of assuming charge as the President of AAPI, “a very prestigious, dedicated, and powerful organization, representing over 120,000 physicians of Indian origin, with an active membership of at least 14,000 life members and in addition to the members of the more than 120 local chapters, chapters of Alumni and Specialty associations across the nation. Being a leader of this organization is a great honor and responsibility,” Dr. Kolli says, “With great power comes to a greater responsibility as well” and believes that “To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.”

“In my role as the President of AAPI, I will be working closely with my executive committee, BOT, leaders, and all the members of AAPI to make It a more dynamic and vibrant organization playing a meaningful and relevant part in advocating for 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,” Dr. Kolli says. “I will also be promoting the mission and vision of AAPI by working closely with AAPI’s 120 + patron Chapters to align all of our goals and activities and also bring in new Chapters into AAPI fold.”

Dr. Kolli has previously served as the Chair of the IT committee of AAPI, Convention AV Co-Chair, and a member of several Committees of AAPI including Endowment fundraising, Geriatric, IT, GME Liaison, South Asian CVD and Childhood obesity awareness and Obesity awareness programs and Adopt a Village Plan and more. As the Chair of the AAPI Membership Committee, Dr. Kolli worked diligently to recruit new members especially the younger physicians and recent graduates.

He had previously served as the Secretary, Vice President, and eventually as the President of Pittsburgh TAPI in 2012-13 and has been involved in organizing several annual meetings of the TAPI and AAPI-CF fundraiser dinners for over a decade.

Being a Psychiatrist by profession and among the many goals Dr. Kolli has set for himself and something that is very dear to him, is to “focus on battling the stigma of mental illness and access to quality mental health care broadly and widely. I will be forming liaisons with mental health professionals in India and globally and bring awareness of various biopsychosocial therapeutic options to promote wellness and recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders. We will also actively promote physician wellness and self-care to address the challenges of physician burnout and suicide.”

Empowering physicians as the leaders in the delivery of evidence-based health care by engaging with policymakers, governmental agencies at all levels and the private sector is a major area where Dr. Kolli wants to direct the efforts for AAPI. Some of the other areas, he wants AAPI to focus on under his leadership include: Connect with the next generation physicians for their participation in all areas of organizational leadership and activities; Advocate for expediting the GC Backlog for physicians through legislation; Promotion of mental health awareness, tackling mental illness, substance abuse and suicide devastating the nation; Planning International Medical Missions with our AAPI physicians to serve communities globally.

Realizing the early challenges and struggles faced by the pioneering leaders of AAPI, Dr. Kolli says, “We are eternally thankful to our senior AAPI leaders who fought hard to end discrimination against IMG and achieved parity of having the same USMLE for all medical graduates for state medical licensures as well as for residency training program requirements. Our senior AAPI leaders have been a great source of reliable support and encouragement and every conversation and interaction with them has been educational and inspirational. I pledge to build upon their legacy to keep AAPI relevant and in the forefront in fighting any semblance of discrimination, microaggressions, and inequity across all walks of health care and medical education opportunities.”

While acknowledging the contributions of the pioneers, who have started AAPI and made it a formidable organization, Dr. Kolli says, “my passion for service has been enhanced by my association with so several AAPI leaders who have dedicated their time and efforts and lives working for AAPI. I am really impressed by the past leaders and I take inspiration from them. I respect them, and I value their guidance.”

Having clarity of mind and purpose and very clear about what he wants to carry out as the President of this prestigious organization, Dr. Kolli says, “I have clear goals. I have a collaborative leadership style and have sustainable and sincere plans to make AAPI better and brighter.” He wants to work with teams, reaching out to leaders and members, from top to bottom and center to periphery of the organization, with open communication and inclusive leadership.

Looking back to his childhood about, what inspired him to become a physician Dr. Kolli says, “I come from a family of physicians,” “Among my five brothers, 3 of us are physicians and I was the youngest. My father’s two brothers were physicians as well as their spouses. We have a long tradition of being a family of physicians. Counting all together, we have about 40 physicians and counting, among our cousins, nieces, and nephews in my family of three generations. So, it was a natural course for me to be a physician as well” Dr. Kolli explains.

Growing up in a family where his dad was a state government official in the Andhra Pradesh state transportation department, Dr. Kolli and his family traveled from place to place every three years with the transfer of his dad, which was a huge challenge. However, “That gave me a wider and unique perspective on life, with the opportunity to meet new people, in new places and environments. It was an enriching experience in some ways and though we didn’t have any roots in one place, we had a wider network of friends and associates all around the state.”

Dr. Kolli and his siblings loved sports both indoor and outdoor, he explains, “All of us were very athletic. We played tennis and cricket and we were all good at it. We played for colleges, and universities, and one of my brothers played for the state. So, we were sought out to play for the local teams and clubs wherever we lived at.”

“Psychiatry was my passion from my medical college days. That was a profession by choice not by default. It was my chosen vocation.” says Dr. Kolli. “I had developed an interest in psychology, behavioral health, and medicine right from the medical school. There were not that many opportunities in India at that time for psychiatric training, which was my career goal.” And therefore, seeking educational and training opportunities, Dr. Kolli immigrated to the United States in 1983 following his elder brother Dr. Prasad Kolli, his earliest role model, who moved to the US in 1974.

Acknowledging that being the president of AAPI is a unique opportunity,” Dr. Kolli says, “My goals are to help the physicians find more balance in their career and fulfillment, and gain empowerment to overcome many of the challenges that they are facing with covid and post-covid and financial and personal strains they have gone through over the years.” I want to address physicians’ wellness and help them to be more autonomous and able to influence the policies and future direction of healthcare as well as our own careers. Many of our next generation children are going into medicine as well and we must make sure that the future generations of physicians have many more opportunities for their professional growth and leadership.”

“AAPI is very young, dynamic, and active,” Dr. Kolli says. “Every year nearly 500 -1000 new members are joining AAPI. My goal is to bring as many like-minded people as possible who are loyal and committed to AAPI goals and values, on one page, one theme, and on one track to solve the problems collectively. It is important for us not to stay apart and fall apart but come together and stand together and make AAPI strong.”

Dr. Kolli believes that AAPI should be able to “help solve public health issues, professional challenges, and provide members with a sense of accomplishment and a sense of belonging. The purpose is to bring everyone together. Being a psychiatrist, I think I have the right kind of temperament and the capability to communicate with emotional intelligence, calm attitude, and openness and empathy for me to be able to do that.”

Dr. Kolli understands the diversity of AAPI and its members. With a broader vision, inclusive ideology, and openness to people of varied views, backgrounds, and regions, Dr. Kolli is confident that he can collaborate well with members, who may have different views and perceptions, for the common good of AAPI and its growth. “We all come from diverse backgrounds and have different goals, but at the same time, we have to find some mutual interests and ideals and work towards realizing those common objectives based on our cherished values,” Dr. Kolli says.

Having played cricket and being a team captain, Dr. Kolli understands the importance of teamwork. “Being a team leader means we must help each other to realize our full potential and stand by each other during challenging times. You need to inspire other team members. You have to be the role model and the hardest-working member of the team. We must make everyone feel confident in their own abilities and have faith in you as a leader.”

Describing himself as “fairly calm, balanced, non-judgmental, kind, open-minded, respectful of other people,” Dr. Kolli says, “I believe in being empathic, I try to look at different points of view. I do not think one is always right and has all the answers and others are wrong and vice versa. There are different perspectives and ways of looking at any problem. Very often things are not black and white, and one size does not fit all. But if we all follow the same set of rules and norms, we are likely to have a more sustainable and successful outcome. So, it is essential to make sure ground rules are fair, clear, and consistent, follow them diligently, and help AAPI move forward smoothly.”

Despite his busy schedule, Dr. Kolli makes time available to play Rummy and socialize with three diverse groups of friends regularly for over a quarter-century. “We have a Kannada group of friends. I have a Telugu group of friends and a group of friends from all over India, from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Karnataka as well as other regions with whom I play cards on some weekends, which is great opportunity to connect, belong, socialize and relax.”

Dr. Kolli earnestly believes “I am a positive person and I try not to look for ways to find fault and criticize other people just to score a point. I don’t make harsh judgments on others, because I believe, everyone is trying and working hard to make AAPI stronger and better. I am fully aware that it takes a lot of dedication and passion, often sacrificing personal, professional, and family times to work on the goals of AAPI. All of those who served and serving AAPI deserve respect and acknowledgment for their dedication and commitment.”

During his presidency, Dr. Kolli wants “to focus on physician well-being and breaking the barriers of mental health stigma, connect with Indian Diaspora here and back home and with the Indian professionals, students and to promote good learning experiences and opportunities and to make it better for the future generation in every way.” Dr. Kolli assures that “We will work together to promote our values of professionalism, collegiality, excellence in patient care and enhance AAPI’s reputation as a premier professional organization offering educational programs and advocacy.”

AAPI Will Celebrate 8th International Yoga Day With Focus On “Heal the Healers” In San Antonio, TX

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with all the 10 City Council Districts of San Antonio, TX and Mayor Ron Nirenberg and iDoYoga San Antonio is organizing its flagship Free Yoga Classes and Education on the benefits and ways to make yoga a part of one’s daily life during the 40th annual convention.

Led by internationally famed yoga gurus, including  Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, PhD, Spiritual leader, teacher and author; Paramaguru Sharath Jois, Lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga; and, Eddie Stern, Yoga teacher, speaker and author, the highly anticipated and popular Yoga on the famous Riverwalk is part of the global celebration of the 8th International Day of Yoga (IDY), founded in 2014 by the United Nations General Assembly, establishing June 21st (summer solstice) of each year to be a day of celebrating yoga in nations around the world. It was ratified by 175 nations and is now being celebrated each year by millions of people around the world.

A major theme during the 40th annual convention is “Physician, heal thyself,” acknowledging and seeking to respond to the growing signs of burnout among physicians, by offering positive remedial resources as part of the first-ever Wellness Program being offered to participants at the 40th annual Convention of AAPI to be held in san Antonio from June 23rd to 26th, 2022 at Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center.

AAPI is the largest ethnic physician organisation in the USA, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin. The convention is focussed on themes such as how to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI said.“We do acknowledge that these are challenging times, more than ever for us, as physicians, who are on the frontline to assess, diagnose and treat people are affected by this deadly pandemic with Physician burnout post COVID-19. Our colleagues have sacrificed their lives in order to save those impacted by this pandemic around the world,” Dr. Gotimukula added.

Accordingly, the wellness sessions at the convention include: Yoga and Meditation practices, welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, personal Reflexology Sessions, take home wellness routine, ailment based yoga therapy sessions, workshop on Spiritual well-being, book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine, and a unique opportunity to visit first of its kind in San Antonio, Aum Ashram.

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The 2022 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr.  Jayesh Shah, Chair of AAPI Convention 2022. Dr. Shah praised the dedication and generosity of each member for giving their best, to make this Convention truly a memorable one for every participant. Put together by a highly talented and dedicated team of Convention Committee members, the 4 days long event will be filled with programs and activities that cater to the body, mind and soul. The Convention is going to be a unique experience for everyone, he added.

Convention Committee members include Mr. Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention; Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Convention Treasurer; Dr. Vijay Koli, Past President of AAPI & Convention Advisor; Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Convention Advisor; Chief Operating Officers, R. Reddy Yeluru and Ram Joolukuntla; Dr. Rajeev Suri, President of TIPS & Co-Chair of the Convention, and the other Co-Chairs of the Convention, including Dr. Shankar Sanka, Dr. Hetal Nayak, and Kiran Cheruku.

The Convention will honor India and its  75 years of Independence Day celebrations- co-sponsored by the Embassy of India & the Consulate General of India (CGI) – Houston.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI said, “This is the first time in the AAPI convention we offer these exclusive wellness packages geared towards the well-being of Physicians and their families by bringing the essence of science and spirituality of yoga and lifestyle medicine into our self-care routine. As we all are aware, a calm mind and a refined intellect are essential for making right choices. We promise to leave you empowered with the tools required.”

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, Chair of AAPI BOT said, “AAPI being the largest ethnic medical association in the nation, we are proud, we have been able to serve every 7th patient in the country. We serve in large cities, smaller towns and rural areas, sharing our skills, knowledge, compassion and expertise and caring millions of people.”

“Leading up to the festivities, we will be accepting donations for 2 local non-profits, including
Yoga Day Foundation and the Veteran’s Yoga Project, said Dr. Hetal Nayak, Founder of I Do Yoga San Antonio. “These organizations exist to provide yoga and mindfulness training to families in San Antonio through schools, hospitals, military installations and community partnership to improve services. They believe access to these tools improves physical, mental, and emotional health and empowers families to navigate their communities and lives in a more positive way.  iDoYoga San Antonio, is a grassroots community project under the Sewa International, she added.

Each day of the convention will have a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates will showcase one’s own state dress code. Heritage India is the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus is on the much loved Bollywood with special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, The cuisine served each will day match the theme chosen for each day, he added.

Some of the major events at the convention include: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, AAPI Got Talent, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Poster/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

“A huge thank you to all of the doctors, physicians, and other healthcare professionals for your dedication and commitment to service during this uncertain time,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI said. “This is a unique opportunity for all of us, the front-line physicians who are putting our lives at risk to the save the lives of others,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said. “Thank you for fighting selflessly against this virus and helping keep everyone healthy and safe,” Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI added.

During the annual convention, physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year.

AAPI delegates will have a multidisciplinary CME conference that allows specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers will discuss gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions.

Planned to have a limited number of attendance due to the ongoing Covid pandemic and the taking into account the safety of the participants, including Physicians, Healthcare Leaders, Academicians, Researchers and Medical Students, “the annual convention offers extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking at the alumni and evening social events,” Dr. Gotimukula added. For more details, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

AMA Unveils Recovery Plan For America’s Physicians

Telehealth, Medicare payments, scope creep, prior authorizations and burnout are keys to a new roadmap to renew the nation’s commitment physicians, said American Medical Association President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. in a speech to physician and medical student leaders from across the country. Described as an ambitious roadmap to renewing our country’s commitment to physicians—and ensuring their needs are met, AMA’s plan is to ensure that patients can receive the high-quality care they deserve.

Envisioned and built against the backdrop of COVID-19 challenges that stretched our health care system to the brink, including increased physician burnout, unabated and onerous prior authorization requirements, and no permanent fix to ensure telehealth coverage for patients, the Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians focuses on five key goals to re-build health care so that it works better for physicians and all those they serve:

Citing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence and government interference in medicine, Harmon emphasized how physicians “are rising to this moment. Day after day. Hour after grueling hour.”

There are five priority areas AMA will focus on.

Telehealth

Telehealth boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic. “And then a funny thing happened: Doctors and patients discovered that this wasn’t such a bad idea in many circumstances,” Harmon said.

The method is not appropriate for suturing a wound or setting a broken bone, but it is “hugely beneficial” in areas such as chronic disease management, care coordination and psychiatry, Harmon said. The nation needs updated laws and regulations once the COVID-19 public health emergency is over.

Medicare

Medicare payment reform is needed because physician payments have fallen by 20%, adjusted for inflation, since 2001, Harmon said. AMA pressured Congress to avert a 10% cut in Medicare payments this past January, but a permanent solution is needed.

Scope creep

Teamwork is necessary for quality, affordable health care, Harmon said, and he credited the work of nurses, physician assistants and office workers. But physicians must lead those teams.

Harmon compared the situation to the airline industry – ground crews and flight attendants are critical to get airplanes off the ground and safely landed. “But no one suggests they fly the planes or that we use them to fill the expected shortage of airline pilots,” he said.

Prior authorizations

Harmon cited an AMA survey that found 93% of physicians reported hurdles with prior authorization for medication, tests and procedures resulted in care delays for patients. In the survey, four out of five doctors said those processes led patients to abandon treatments.

Health insurers have done little to comply with improvements they agreed to four years ago in the “Consensus Statement on Improving the Prior Authorization Process,” which AMA developed. “It’s time to hold them accountable,” Harmon said.

Burnout

Harmon praised the federal Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, named for the physician who took her own life during the pandemic. Breen was concerned the stigma of reaching out for mental health help, would damage her career.

Physicians must be able to address mental health needs without fear of negative repercussions, Harmon said. AMA supports reforms to outdated language on applications for medical licensing, employment and credentials, he said.

Finding new doctors

Focusing on the recovery plan will make it easier to bring talented young people to avoid a predicted physician shortage looming in the United States, Harmon said. He called for removing barriers for new physicians, especially from underrepresented communities, by:

  • Reducing medical school debt
  • Expanding the number of residency training slots
  • Creating new schools and programs in historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges and universities

“It’s physicians our nation turns to. For answers – for treatment – for help,” Harmon said in his prepared remarks published by AMA. “You’ve taken care of our nation – at great personal sacrifice … and it’s time our nation renews its commitment to you.”

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.

Indian American Leads Mrna Vaccine Trial For Pancreatic Cancer

World’s first trial, led by an Indian American doctor, on a mRNA-based vaccine for pancreatic cancer has shown promise for remission.

The new shot is developed by BioNTech based on the same technology used by the German biotech company along with its US partner Pfizer to develop vaccines against Covid-19.

The groundbreaking trial led by Dr Vinod Balachandran at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in New York, showed that half of the patients remained cancer-free 18 months after having their tumours removed and receiving the jabs.

The key to these vaccines appears to be proteins in the pancreatic tumours, called neoantigens, which alert the immune system to keep the cancer at bay, according to MSK. The promising results were also presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago.

In 8 of 16 patients studied, the vaccines activated T cells that recognise the patient’s own pancreatic cancers. These patients also showed delayed recurrence of their pancreatic cancers, suggesting the T cells activated by the vaccines may be having the desired effect to keep pancreatic cancers in check.

According to Balachandran, mRNA vaccines could stimulate the immune system to recognise and attack pancreatic cancer cells.

“Unlike some of the other immunotherapies, these mRNA vaccines do appear to have the ability to stimulate immune responses in pancreatic cancer patients,” Balachandran said of the promising preliminary results.

“So we’re very excited about that, and the early results suggest that if you have an immune response, you may have a better outcome.”

Balachandran added the results should be welcome news for other cancer patients too, as pancreatic cancer has been very difficult to treat with traditional chemotherapies and immunotherapies.

The phase-I trial was also heralded as “encouraging” by BioNTech.

“We are committed to taking up this challenge by leveraging our long-standing research in cancer vaccinology and are trying to break new ground in the treatment of such hard-to-treat tumours,” BioNTech co-founder and chief medical officer Prof Ozlem Tureci said.

The Science Behind The Cancer Cure, And The Therapy’s Future In India

In a medical trial, 12 patients in the US were completely cured of rectal cancer without requiring any surgery or chemotherapy. A look at the study, and its results

In a medical trial, results of which were published in The Indian Express on Wednesday, 12 patients in the United States were completely cured of rectal cancer without requiring any surgery or chemotherapy.

The trial used a monoclonal antibody called dostarlimab every three weeks for six months for the treatment of a particular kind of stage two or three rectal cancer. The study was done by doctors from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, and its results have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The trial showed that immunotherapy alone – without any chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery that have been staples of cancer treatment – could completely cure the patients with a particular kind of rectal cancer called ‘mismatch repair deficient’ cancer”.

All 12 patients had completed the treatment and were followed for six to 25 months after. “No cases of progression or recurrence had been reported during the follow-up,” the study said. The response too was rapid, with symptoms resolving in 81% of the patients within nine weeks of starting the therapy.

What is this deficiency, and how was it cured?

‘Mismatch repair deficient’ cancer is most common among colorectal, gastrointestinal, and endometrial cancers. Patients suffering from this condition lack the genes to correct typos in the DNA that occur naturally while cells make copies.

The immunotherapy belongs to a category called PD1 blockades that are now recommended for the treatment of such cancers rather than chemotherapy or radiotherapy. PD1 is a type of protein that regulates certain functions of the immune system, including by suppressing T cell activity, and PD1 blockade therapy looks to release the T cells from this suppression.

“The anomalies in the DNA result in cancerous growths in patients with mismatch repair deficient cancers. If you imagine the immune system to be a car, PD1 acts as the brakes for the T cells of the immune system. By giving the PD1 blockades, we release the brakes and allow the T cells to destroy the cancerous growth,” said Dr P K Julka, former professor of radiotherapy at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and the current chairman for Max Oncology Daycare Centre. Dr Julka did the first immunotherapy treatment in India while at AIIMS in 2015. He was not involved in the US study.

India has a couple of PD1 blockades available, although not the one used for this study. If PD1 therapy was already in use, what’s new in the trial? Earlier, this therapy was used post-surgery, but the study has shown that a surgery may not be required.

“Although the therapy is usually used for cancers that have metastasised (spread to locations other than where the cancer formed), it is now recommended for all mismatch repair deficient cancers as they result in quicker improvement and lesser toxicity as compared to traditional chemo and radiotherapy. So far, we have been using the therapy after a patient undergoes surgery; it is used for 10 to 15 indications. This study shows that even the surgery was not needed in these patients,” Dr Julka said.

Speaking about his own practice, Dr Julka said that in all tumours, they now look for mismatch repair deficiency to see whether immunotherapy can be used. Eliminating other treatments can improve a patient’s quality of life by preserving fertility, sexual health, and bladder and bowel functions.

Also read |New study recommends next-generation sequencing for extending lung cancer treatment to more patients

When can such a treatment be accessible in India?

Cost is believed to be a major hurdle. Dr M D Ray, professor of surgical oncology at AIIMS-Delhi, who disagrees with the immunotherapy approach, said: “These patients can be well managed with chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well. Around 10 to 15% of cancer patients actually do not need surgeries. The problem with immunotherapies is that they are expensive and unaffordable for most people in India, and certainly for those coming to AIIMS. A genetic test can also cost up to Rs 30,000, the patients here cannot afford all this.”

He added that precision medicine, such as using particular immunotherapy drugs for particular types of cancers, is still at a nascent stage in India. “Precision medicine for cancer treatment is happening in India, but it is still in nascent stages. It would take at least ten years for it to become commonplace,” he said.

An immunotherapy treatment can cost around Rs 4 lakh per month, with patients needing the treatment for six months to a year.

“People may end up using their life-savings for the treatment. We usually end up giving the treatment only to those who can bank on schemes such as CGHS for sponsoring their treatment or receive free doses from the companies as part of their assistance programme,” said Dr Julka.

However, he added: “One day, cancer will be like any other chronic disease. Like people with diabetes go to work after taking a tablet, cancer patients would too. The future of cancer treatment is molecular oncology – you find a mutation in one gene, you give a particular medicine for it; you find it in another, you give another medicine.”

Your Guide To A Good Night’s Sleep

New Delhi– Most of us today, idolise the ones working on 3 to 4 hours of sleep. It’s all cool but I’m sure you remember the sweet taste of sleep? Oh no, I’m not tempting you to sleep for long hours and forget all your responsibilities. I know we’re living in a fleet-footed world and 24 hours just don’t seem enough.

When you don’t have something in adequate amounts you should always try and optimise it rather than disrupting everything, especially your sleep. Let me explain with an example – when you leave for a trip, you pack your stuff in a nice and organised manner but when you start packing for your return journey, what happens? You know that very well!

When your responsibilities seem to overpower you, stop, take a deep breath and make those 24 hours your slave.

How can you do that?

First of all, find out what works for you. People need a different amount of sleeping hours to boost their energy levels. You need to find your optimum level. After that, start scheduling your work and leisure timings accordingly.

Do you feel sleepy but still keep tossing around even after getting in bed at the right time?

If yes, this is probably because of your environment and poor pre-sleep discipline. To have the sleep that you are looking for, you need to work hard. Create an environment, which works best for you.

Pre-sleep discipline: Keeping all the distractions aside mentally and physically, dim the lights and start preparing for your bed. This will allow your mind to know it’s time to sleep and till the time you get to bed, your head would be light as a feather.

Set your Bedroom Temperature Body and bedroom temperature can profoundly impact sleep quality. Studies reveal that high or low temperatures in the sleeping area can deteriorate sleep quality. Depending on your body’s preferences, you need to find what suits your body for a good and comfortable sleep. In most cases, the bedroom should be cool (between 60 and 67 degrees) for optimal sleep.

Take a relaxing shower A relaxing warm shower is another popular way to sleep better. According to studies, a hot bath before bed improves sleep quality and helps people get more sound sleep. Alternatively speaking, if you don’t want to take a bath at night, simply dip your feet in lukewarm water for relaxation for improved sleep.

Invest in a comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow Some people wonder why they always sleep better in the hotel. Apart from having a relaxed environment, bed quality can also affect your sleep. The best mattress and bedding is extremely subjective. If you plan on upgrading your bedding, base your choice on personal preferences.

Sleep hygiene is important Blue light from cell phones, TV screens, and laptops can make it difficult for you to fall asleep, so make sure you turn them off at least half an hour before you sleep. Even the bright light from a lamp or the window can affect your pattern; consider using blackout curtains, eye-masks, white noise machines, and other accessories for a good night’s sleep.

The bottom line Sleep plays a crucial role when it comes to our health. Common sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can cause sleep loss; people with sleep apnea characteristically make periodic gasping or snorting noises, momentarily interrupting their sleep. These obstructions during sleep can pose serious complications and should be sought from a medical professional. Also, sleep loss and sleep disorders are linked with hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety, obesity, mental distress, and adverse health behaviors such as cigarette smoking, physical inactivity, and heavy drinking.

Additionally, sleep medicines aren’t the solution and even lead to addiction. If you are interested in optimal health and wellbeing, then you should make sleep your topmost priority and start incorporating some of the tips above.

Firearms Are Leading Cause of Death Among U.S. Youth

Newswise — Firearms are now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents 0-19 years of age, with a staggering 83 percent increase in youth firearm fatalities over the past decade, according to a commentary published in Lancet Child and Adolescent Health. Nearly two-thirds of youth firearm deaths were from homicides. Strikingly, Black youth had an unprecedented 40 percent increase in firearm fatalities between 2019 to 2020.

These tragic statistics come in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Texas earlier this week, pointing to the urgent need to take action to prevent more youth from dying by firearms.

“We must reverse this deeply troubling and unacceptable trend in youth firearm fatalities, especially among youth of color,” said co-author Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH, Pediatric Emergency Medicine physician and Medical Director of Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Professor of Pediatrics, Medical Education and Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We need more funding allocated to research-based prevention efforts so that we can save young lives before it’s too late.”

The authors also note that although firearm fatality rates started to rise in 2014, the dramatic societal upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic likely accelerated this increase with the escalation of mental health stressors and existential despair experienced by youth. The seismic shift in youths’ lives during the pandemic occurred in the context of a decades’ long void of prevention efforts to decrease firearm injuries and deaths.

After Congress passed the Dickey Amendment in 1996, federal funding of firearm research was effectively halted, until 2019 when $25 million in research funding was appropriated. This pales in comparison to research funding for other pediatric diseases and does not meet the current needs to advance the field. Congress has continued to fund firearm research at this same level for the last three years, while studies estimate that $600 million should be appropriated in fiscal years 2022-2026 for data infrastructure and research funding for firearm injury prevention research.

“In addition to better understanding the risk and protective factors for firearm injuries and deaths, more funding is essential to develop, implement, and evaluate firearm injury prevention interventions at the individual, hospital, community, and policy levels,” said co-author Samaa Kemal, MD, MPH, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellow at Lurie Children’s.

Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Emergency medicine-focused research at Lurie Children’s is conducted through the Grainger Research Program in Pediatric Emergency Medicine.

Parag Mehta, MD Elected President of the Medical Society of the State of New York

Internist Parag Mehta, MD, was elected as 196th President of the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) on May 21, 2022. Dr. Mehta is the Senior Vice Chairman of the Department of Medicine and the Chief Medical Information Officer, Interim Chief Medical Officer at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital (NYPBMH). In addition, he is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

A graduate of NHL Medical College in Ahmedabad, India, Dr. Mehta did his residency in Internal Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Care, and Integrative and Holistic Medicine. He has taken courses in Health Information Technology from Cornell University and Artificial Intelligence from MIT Sloan School of Management.

Dr. Mehta has served as Governor of the New York American College of Physicians and President of the Medical Society of County of Kings. He received numerous awards for his extraordinary contributions to advocacy, education, quality, research, and policy. He has been included in Castle Connelly’s Top Doctors list for many years and has been recognized as a power player in Healthcare by amNew York/PoliticsNY in 2021. He is an astute clinician, an excellent educator, and an inspirational leader. As a Wellness Champion, he promotes the importance of mindfulness, gratitude, and forgiveness. As CMIO, he is cognizant of the burden of EMR and continuously works on improving usability and clinical decision support.

He will succeed Dr. Joe Sellers, and as the 196th President of MSSNY, he strives to work with principles addressing harmony, wellness, equity, and enabling members with knowledge. He plans to achieve that goal by creating appropriate programs, products, and services.

Dr. Art Fougner, Chair of the Board of Trustees and past president of MSSNY, quotes Henry Kissinger – “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. I have come to know that Dr. Parag Mehta is that leader.”

Dr. Mehta lives in Nassau County with his wife, Isha Mehta, MD, Chief of Gynecology at Elmhurst Hospital, and founder of “A Stitch in Time,” an organization that treats gynecological conditions at no cost to women around the world. They have two daughters, Ruju, an engineer, and Setu, a recent graduate of Harvard College who plans to study medicine.

Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal non-profit professional organization for physicians, residents, and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.

Dr. Jagdish K. Gupta, President of Medical Society of County of Kings, NY Leads Year-Long Bicentennial Celebrations

“I am very humbled, truly privileged, and extremely honored to welcome you all to our 201st Bicentennial Stated Meeting by the Medical Society of The County of Kings and the Academy of Medicine of Brooklyn,” said Dr. Jagdish K. Gupta, a committed and highly regarded physician with a history of professional achievement and humanitarian philanthropy, who was inducted as the 174th President of the Medical Society of County of Kings (MSCK) on May 25th, 2022.
Dr. Gupta was addressing the delegates at the 201st Annual Stated Meeting of MSCK as a Bicentennial Event in person, after two years hiatus due to COVID Pandemic at El Caribe Country Club in Brooklyn, NY with full regalia. “The COVID-19 pandemic upended the rhythms of our personal and professional lives. Traditional workings of our medical society came to a screeching halt,” Dr. Gupta pointed out. “However, as an organization, we persevered, reimagined our operations, and implemented new strategies.  Overall, the organization was renewed and brought into the 21st century.”
Dr. Gupta expressed gratitude to “Dr. Valluru, Dr. Prasad Gudavalli & Dr. Larry Melniker, and everyone in our leadership team for all their hard work during possibly the most challenging time in our organization’s history.”
Dr. Gupta on behalf of the Team 2022-2023,  promised “to continue this progressive transformation. The central focus during my presidency will be to bring harmony to our efforts, empower ourselves to increase membership, enhance membership benefits, create programs for wellness, end disparities inpatient care, and bring equity in healthcare to all, irrespective of caste creed or financial status.”
Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, Professor of Medicine and the past Faculty Dean for Continu­ing Medical Education at Harvard Medical School for 12 years, serving as a Marshall Wolf Distinguished Clinician Educator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the author of more than 170 publications and ten books to his credit, was the keynote speaker at the gala. In his address, he pointed out to “The Two Most Important Days: Reflections on Lasting Happiness and Living with Purpose.”  He received a full-throttled standing ovation from the audience. Dr. Chopra is Editor-in-Chief of the Hepatology Section of “UpToDate”, the most widely used electronic textbook in the world subscribed to by more than 1.5 million physicians in 195 countries.
He is a sought-after inspirational speaker across the United States and abroad, addressing diverse audiences on topics related to medicine, leadership, happiness, and living with purpose.
Recognizing the contributions and accomplishments of the Medical Society of the County of Kings, the New York State Assembly commemorated the Bicentennial Stated Meeting of the Medical Society of the County of Kings on May 25, 2022 with a Proclamation sponsored by Assembly Woman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and Co-sponsored By Assemblyman Michael Tannousis.
Among the several distinguished guests who joined in and addressed the celebrations were Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez who spoke passionately about the need for Gun Control and on ways to prevent the violence in the City. Messages and proclamations were sent in by New York City Council Woman Ms. Mercedes Narcisse 46th Council District; Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis from 11th District; President of SUNY Downstate Medical School, Dr. Wayne Riley who spoke about the contribution of Medical Society of County of Kings and Long Island College over 200 years; State Assemblyman Michael Tannousis; Dr. Ravi Kolli, President Elect, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin- the largest ethnic physician organization in America; and, Multiple Citations for 50 years Medical School Graduates serving the Brooklyn Community.
The annual event also highlighted and honored the achievements and outstanding contributions of an impressive and inspirational set of honorees representing 50 years of continuous, diligent, and impartial services to the Brooklyn community. “These 12 esteemed honorees have distinguished themselves in the fields of community service, patient advocacy, medical innovation, and clinical practice. These honored physicians have saved countless lives and brought relief to thousands of patients over the last 50 years.
Their influence extends far beyond those in their direct care.  They have served as role models for numerous students, residents, and fellows for over five decades,” Dr. Gupta pointed out. Reflecting on the last 200 years of the most prestigious professional organization, Dr. Gupta said, “I am amazed at the caliber, intelligence, and forward-thinking ideas of all my great predecessors. They left indelible marks with their achievements and accomplishments in the fields of research, education, innovation in medical and surgical technology, and patient care. I am humbled to follow in their footsteps and am grateful to each of them.”
The Medical Society of the County of Kings (MSCK), the oldest scientific organization in Brooklyn, New York was established on March 2nd, 1822 by a group of doctors gathered at Auld Lang Syne Tavern on Fulton Street in Brooklyn Heights, with the lofty mission  “to foster progress in the science and art of medicine and to promote, preserve and enforce the highest of standards of ethical and proficient medical care”. In 1900, the Society opened its grand new colonial revival building at 1313 Bedford Avenue, the geographical center of Brooklyn and It was headquartered there until 1996.
The Society had hosted numerous Scientific Conferences at the McNaughton Auditorium where local, national, and international luminaries in medicine presented important and often original scientific works. The Medical Society grew exponentially to more than 3,500 members by the mid-20th century and according to the Directing Librarian for the Society, for some time boasted as the 5th largest medical library in the country.
The concept of Continuing Medical Education (CME) was developed in Brooklyn in 1922 and the Society published the Brooklyn Medical Journal from 1888 until it was succeeded by the Long Island Medical Journal in 1907. The Medical Society continues to serve the people of Brooklyn through the thousands of practicing physicians in the borough. MSCK through its various committees and in collaboration with other specialty organizations have been supporting Brooklynites for their healthcare needs uninterrupted — through political, economic, and various health crises — over the past 200 years.
MSCK represents the most populous County in the New York State and as such has the largest delegation to the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY). It continues to provide leadership to organized medicine. Following the footsteps of its great predecessors, more than 11 Kings County leaders, who became President of the MSSNY, a matter of great pride for all members of the Society, its past president and current member, Dr. Parag Mehta, has become the first Asian American President of MSSNY on May 21st. 2022.
Born and raised in Hissar, Haryana, India, Dr. Gupta graduated from All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi in 1972 with distinction, and after coming to the United States, had his residency and fellowship at Long Island College Hospital (LICH). A diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Gastroenterology, Dr. Gupta is an Assistant Clinical Professor at SUNY Health Science Center in Brooklyn, and has served as a role model and a mentor for a generation of young physicians who aspire to combine his clinical excellence with sensitivity and compassion towards patients and their families.
Dr. Gupta has been serving the Brooklyn Community for the last 45 years. He has been actively involved in Organized Medical Societies leadership at the Kings County and New York state Medical Society level for a long time. Through innovative research exploring the links between gastrointestinal and neurological diseases, Dr. Gupta has made his mark upon medical literature. In addition to his many contributions to peer review journals, he has co-authored chapters in many medical textbooks. As a researcher dedicated to the detection, prevention and treatment of GI disorders including cancer, he has been recognized and awarded numerous teaching awards. He has been on the TOP DOCTORS list of Castle Connolly for more than twenty years, consecutively and also has been designated as SUPER DOC by New York Times magazine for three years.
Dr. Gupta has served as President of the Medical staff of LICH and as a member of its Board of Regents. For his commitment to teaching, professional achievements, community services and leadership, the Long Island College Hospital bestowed the Spring Ball Honoree 2002 Physician of the Year Award upon him. He is currently serving as the Chairman, Board of Trustees of AAPI-QLI, and is very active in National AAPI and AAPI Charitable Foundation and serves on the Board of Trustees and is the Treasurer.

In his desire to serve the Indian American community Dr. Gupta has been a member of the Board of Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation and has been privileged to serve as its President, fundraising large amounts during his tenure to sponsor many charitable projects in India. He was recognized  for his contributions with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. He has been very actively involved with many community organizations in Long Island. He has served as President of India Association of Long Island (IALI) in 2010. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Hindu Center. He has been recognized several times for his outstanding services to the community. Most recently he was appointed an Honorary Police Surgeon for his patriotic dedication to the New York’s finest.  Above all, Dr. Gupta is a loving husband to his wife Meena and father of three children, Drs. Anu, Srishti and Vishal and grandfather to Sia, Kabir, Som and Sai.

WHO Honors 1 Million ASHA Volunteers

India’s one million all-women ASHA volunteers were honored by the World Health Organization on Sunday, May 21st for their “crucial role” in providing direct access to healthcare facilities in rural areas and their indefatigable efforts to rein in the coronavirus pandemic in the country. They were praised for their contributions in providing basic health care services to the rural population of India.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced the group of over a million government volunteers, as one of the six recipients of the World Health Organization Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Awards recognizing their outstanding contributions to advancing global health, demonstrated leadership and commitment to regional health issues.

Dr Tedros decides on the awardees for the World Health Organisation Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Awards. The ceremony for the awards, which were established in 2019, was part of the live-streamed high-level opening session of the 75th World Health Assembly.

“Among the honorees is ASHA, which means hope in Hindi. The more than 1 million female volunteers in India were honored for their crucial role in linking the community with the health system, to ensure those living in rural poverty get access to primary health care services, as shown throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. PM Modi also hailed the selfless service of the Asha Volunteers and congratulated them as their efforts were recognized by WHO.

Accredited Social Health Activists — or ASHA volunteers — are Indian government’s affiliated health-care workers who are the first point of contact in rural India. Most of them gained spotlight during the peak of the pandemic in India for conducting door-to-door checks to trace coronavirus patients. ASHA – means ‘hope’ in Hindi. These health workers provide maternal care & immunization for children against vaccine-preventable diseases; community health care; treatment for hypertension & tuberculosis & core areas of health promotion for nutrition, sanitation & healthy living.

Americans’ Views On Abortion, 1995-2022

While public support for legal abortion has fluctuated some in two decades of polling, it has remained relatively stable over the past several years. Currently, 61% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Views on abortion by religious affiliation, 2022

About three-quarters of White evangelical Protestants (74%) think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

By contrast, 84% of religiously unaffiliated Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 66% of Black Protestants, 60% of White Protestants who are not evangelical, and 56% of Catholics.

Views on abortion by party identification, 2022

Six-in-ten Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party (60%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. By contrast, 80% of Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Views on abortion by political party and ideology, 2022

Conservative Republicans and Republican leaners are far more likely to say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases than to say that it should be legal (72% vs. 27%). Among moderate and liberal Republicans, 60% say abortion should be legal, while 38% say it should be illegal.

The vast majority of liberal Democrats and Democratic leaners support legal abortion (90%), as do seven-in-ten conservative and moderate Democrats (72%).

Views on abortion by gender, 2022

Majorities of both men and women express support for legal abortion, though women are somewhat more likely than men to hold this view (63% vs. 58%).

Views on abortion by race and ethnicity, 2022

Majorities of adults across racial and ethnic groups express support for legal abortion. About three-quarters of Asian (74%) and two-thirds of Black adults (68%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 60% of Hispanic adults and 59% of White adults.

Views on abortion by age, 2022

Among adults under age 30, 74% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do  62% of adults in their 30s and 40s. Among those in their 50s and early 60s, 55% express support for legal abortion, as do 54% of those ages 65 and older.

Views on abortion by level of education, 2022

Two-thirds of college graduates (66%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 63% of those with some college education. Among those with a high school degree or less education, 54% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 44% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Source:  The PEW Survey conducted March 7-13, 2022. Trend lines show aggregated data from polls conducted in each year. Data from 2019 and later come from Pew Research Center’s online American Trends Panel; prior data from telephone surveys. See report for more details on changes in survey mode. Question wording can be found here, and information on the Pew Research Center’s polling methodology can be found here. White, Black and Asian adults include those who report being one race and are not Hispanic. Hispanics are of any race. Estimates for Asian adults are representative of English speakers only.

Indians Rank High In UK’s Top Source Of Nurses

Nearly half of Britain’s newly-hired nurses and midwives were recruited from abroad, figures revealed last week.  Forty-eight per cent of the 48,436 staff who joined the UK’s nursing and midwifery workforce came from different countries in 2021/22 — a record high.

The vast majority of the overseas-trained joiners (66 per cent) hailed from India and the Philippines. India has contributed to the rise of the highest registered professionals in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), according to the annual report released in London on Wednesday. Around 7.6 lakh professionals including nurses and midwives were accounted for as on March 31, 2022. “That’s around 30,000 more than there were a year earlier and is the highest level it has ever been,” according to the report.

The UK government says that the NHS follows ethical recruitment practices by not recruiting from a red list of countries. Concerns have been raised about the UK’s overreliance on overseas nurse, with top medics questioning how sustainable it is to ‘recruit half of new nurses from around the world’.

Meanwhile, nurses are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate. Leavers complained the job put them under ‘too much pressure’.  In another warning sign, one fifth of the workforce are currently at retirement age, risking a further exodus next year.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) statistics suggest there has been a slight increase in the number of staff – with some 758,300 now registered to work across Britain. However, concerns have been raised about the rising number of people leaving the register.

A total of 27,133 nurses and midwives left the NMC register in 2021/22 – 13 per cent more than the year before. Nursing leaders have voiced concern over a rising reliance on overseas trained nurses and midwives in the UK with them now accounting for nearly half of newly registered professionals, a huge increase compared to previous years. The vast majority of these were nurses, some 25,000, and almost 1,500 midwives.

Among 6,500 nurses and midwives who responded to a ‘leavers’ survey’, the top reasons for quitting the register was retirement (42.9 per cent). Personal circumstances were mentioned by a fifth (21.7 per cent), while ‘too much pressure’ was cited by a similar amount (18.3 per cent). The report states that stress and poor mental health are factors in ‘many people’s decision to stop practicing’. Midwives were the most likely to cite this reason, closely followed by mental health nurses.

One nurse who left due to workplace pressures told the NMC: ‘Pressure at work and the change of working practice didn’t allow me to provide the care I wanted to give. ‘Covid restrictions compounded this. I was becoming stressed, tired and not sleeping well.’

Additionally, 36.5 per cent of leavers reported their experience of working during the pandemic had influenced their decision to quit the register. One midwife told the NMC it was not the virus itself but the associated workplace pressures that led to them leaving.

‘Regularly caring for two, three, four women who should have been one-two-one was terrifying and exhausting,’ they said. ‘Wearing the same mask all day because there were no others, begging for sterile gowns for crash sections, holding pee in all day because you are so short staffed, the list goes on.’

The figures also suggest one in five nurses and midwives (21 per cent) working in the UK are ‘of potential retirement age’. Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC chief executive, said the total number of registrants was the highest level ever, however there were some concerning signs.

Why are nurses and midwives leaving the profession?

A total of 27,133 nurses and midwives left the NMC register in 2021/22 – 13 per cent more than the year before.

Of theses 5,927 British trained nurses told the NMC why they were leaving and these were the top reasons:

  • Retirement: 49.3 per cent
  • Change of personal circumstances: 23.2 per cent
  • Too much pressure at work: 20.1 per cent
  • Negative workplace culture: 14.3 per cent
  • The Covid pandemic: 11.5 per cent

‘The total number of people leaving the register has risen, after a steady and welcome fall over the previous four years,’ she said.

‘Another note of caution is that growth of the workforce has become more reliant on internationally trained professionals joining our register.

‘These professionals make a welcome and vital contribution to our nation’s health and wellbeing. But we can’t take them for granted.’

She said the pandemic had demonstrated the vulnerability of relying on overseas trained professionals.

‘Two years ago, we felt the pandemic’s impact on global travel; the number of international joiners to our register fell sharply,’ she said.

‘A future pandemic or other global disruption could see history repeat itself, but with an even bigger impact on the overall growth of the register.’

The figures also show the number of nurses coming from the EU has fallen for the fifth year in a row.

Commenting on the figures, Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘The loss of 25,000 registered nurses last year is being felt profoundly by both patients and nurses alike.

‘When we have tens of thousands of vacant nurse jobs, a sharp rise in leavers should not be overlooked while we welcome new recruits.

‘Ministers should avoid overclaiming today – nursing staff tell us these shortages are biting more than ever.’ She also questioned the sustainability of recruiting ‘half of all new nurses from around the world.’

‘The UK’s health and care workforce is proudly diverse, but it must be done ethically and come at the same time as increased investment in education and domestic workers,’ she said.

Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, added: ‘We are already 2,000 midwives short in England, yet the number in the NHS continues to fall while demands on maternity services grow.

‘Other UK countries are also facing pressures.

‘This is not sustainable and is without doubt having an impact on the safety and quality of care for women, babies and their families.

‘It is also putting massive and unreasonable pressures on NHS midwives and maternity support workers – already battered by the pandemic – and many are starting to vote with their feet and leave the NHS.’

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, added: ‘It is concerning to see a rise in the number of nurses, midwives and nursing associates leaving the register, reversing the trend of recent years.

‘Workforce shortages across the NHS, with more than 110,000 vacancies, are a huge risk to patient safety by impacting the quality of care that overstretched staff can provide – ‘too much pressure’ is the third most common reason cited by leavers.’

Hindu’s Classical Texts Strictly Forbid Abortion. Here’s Why Many Hindus Don’t.

Since the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the U.S., legal abortions across the country have declined steadily. Public support for abortion has remained consistent, currently around 61%. And yet, a recent leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court suggests that a majority of justices are considering overturning this decision and turning over abortion regulation to the states.

The opinion, in which its author, Justice Samuel Alito, makes room for some bizarre allusions to 13th-century British jurisprudence, suggests that abortion rights are the purview of the states’ legislatures and the court should not be involved. It also hints at the issue of religious freedom.

Alito’s draft opinion, of course, implicitly rebuts the notion that termination of a pregnancy is a fundamental right that must be recognized, not legislated. It means that anyone who becomes pregnant has fewer rights over their bodies than are proffered to a corpse or brain-dead person. In these situations, one cannot harvest an organ or remove tissue without prior written consent.

But Alito also overlooks the actual issue at stake. If Roe were overturned, it would abrogate the religious freedom and individual rights of several minority religious communities, including U.S. Jews, Muslims and Hindus. These communities support abortion rights in some or all cases in numbers equivalent to or much greater than the general public. That support is often rooted in their faith and the ethics of individual choice.

In many American Jewish communities, when the life of the mother is threatened, abortion isn’t just acceptable, it’s required.

Between 2017 – 2020, support for abortion rights among Black communities rose sharply, particularly among Black Protestants, of which 66% support abortion under most circumstances.

U.S. Muslims support abortion rights as well, though by a slimmer margin — 56%. While Catholic support for abortion rights shows a slim majority in favor, at 47%, among Catholic women that number jumps to 55%. But in the largest religious community in the U.S. — white Protestants — support for abortion rights reaches 63%, exceeding the nation as a whole.

Hindu traditions are more complicated. While U.S. Hindu communities express strong support for abortion rights at 68%, mirroring the numbers Pew Research catalogs for all Asian Americans, classical Hindu texts such as the Vedas and Shastras forbid abortion except when the life of the pregnant person is threatened or there are fetal abnormalities. Though the Garbha Upanishad suggests the soul doesn’t attach itself to the fetus until the seventh month, this interpretation is contested.

How does India, the largest country with a Hindu majority, view abortion rights? Abortion has been legal with limitations since 1971 through the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, which has been updated four times, most recently in 2021. Currently, abortions are permitted up to 20 weeks after conception with the approval of a certified health care provider.

Failed contraception is considered an acceptable reason for approving an abortion. Women may seek abortions at up to 24 weeks’ gestation in cases of sexual abuse, incest, fetal abnormalities, rape, disability or if the pregnant person is a minor. All abortions are covered by government health care and are performed in public and private facilities.

But the broad support for abortion rights among American Hindus seems to speak to an important aspect of Hindu faith: Individual ethical choice cannot be imposed on others. Although abortion may violate classical Hindu law, most Hindus believe such a position should not be legislated for the population at large.

It may also be an indicator of the social and religious preference for sons, which grounds India’s ban on amniocentesis to determine the sex of the baby. What is clear is that for Hindus, the freedom to make this choice is paramount.

What does all this tell us? People who identify as religious, by and large, support abortion rights as individual choice, even when it may violate tenets of their faith. It also suggests that Jews, Muslims and Hindus see abortion rights as a matter of personal ethics, even if it’s incompatible with their beliefs — a fact represented in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court by a diverse range of religious organizations supporting abortion rights.

So whose religious freedom is at stake for the court? White evangelical Christians, 77% of whom oppose abortion, have been the most active advocates for religious freedom in recent years. What’s more, they see this (and other issues) as a collective matter and a religious imperative that necessitates imposing their views on everyone, even those who don’t share them.

Now it’s evangelicals’ turn to take a back seat to religious freedom claims of others. Overturning Roe v. Wade would violate the religious freedom of the majority of Christians, Jews, Hindus and Muslims as well as of those who identify as religious “nones.”

Religious freedom means more than the freedom to practice one’s religion; it also affirms the right to be free from the imposition of religion. Removing the constitutional right to an abortion would not only deliver a devastating blow to gender equity, it would, in effect, center white evangelical Christian morality as a governing principle for everyone, fundamentally altering the meaning and impact of the First Amendment.

AAPI Convention Teaser Offers Glimpses of 40th Annual Convention in San Antonio, TX Focus On “Heal The Healers: Rejuvenate And Rekindle Your Mind And Your Spirits”

“It is with great pleasure that we want to welcome you to the 40th Annual Convention and Scientific Sessions of American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI), which will be held from June 23-26, 2022 in the historic city of San Antonio, Texas,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI said during the much anticipated Convention Teaser organized virtually on Sunday, May 15th. “We are  planning a historic convention in San Antonio to celebrate 40 years of AAPI that coincides with 75 years of India’s Independence, with excellent educational sessions and other programs.”

Dr. Gotimukula, the 4th woman President of AAPI in the history of AAPI, who has been leading AAPI to newer heights with her dynamic leadership, while thanking the Organizing Committee led by Dr. Jayesh Shah, praised the dedication and generosity of each member for giving their best, to make this Convention truly a memorable one for every participant.

“Bienvenidos a San Antonio, Tejas!” Dr. Jayesh Shah, Convention Chair and past President of AAPI said in Texan style. “It is with great pleasure that I, along with the San Antonio -2022 Convention Team, welcome you to the 40th AAPI Annual Convention in San Antonio, the 8th largest city in the US. I still have vivid memories of inviting you to San Antonio in 2014. This is going to be the 4th convention in Texas.”

The Convention Teaser provided a glimpse of the 40th annual Convention  with its theme, “Heal the Healers — Rejuvenate And Rekindle Your Mind And Your Spirits.” “Our physician members have worked very hard during the Covid 19 pandemic as the 2022 convention is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness,” said Dr. Jayesh Shah.

Put together by a highly talented and dedicated Team of Convention Committee members, the 4 days long event will be filled with programs and activities that cater to the body, mind and soul. The Convention is going to be a unique experience for everyone, he added.

Dr. Jayesh Shah introduced the strong and dedicated team of Convention Committee members, including Mr. Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention; Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Convention Treasurer; Dr. Vijay Koli, Past President of AAPI & Convention Advisor; Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Convention Advisor; Chief Operating Officers, R. Reddy Yeluru and Ram Joolukuntla; Dr. Rajeev Suri, President of TIPSSW  & Co-Chair of the Convention, and the other Co-Chairs of the Convention, including Dr. Shankar Sanka, Dr. Hetal Nayak, and Dr. Kiran Cheruku.

Honoring India, as she celebrates 75 years of India’s Independence is part of the convention, being co-sponsored by the Embassy of India & the Consulate General of India (CGI) – Houston.

Each day of the convention will have a specific theme. On Thursday, the theme chosen is “Unity in Diversity” and the delegates will showcase one’s own state dress code. Heritage India is the theme for Friday honoring and celebrating India’s rich culture and diversity. On Saturday, the focus is on the much loved Bollywood with a special performance by popular Bollywood singer Shaan, followed by Mehfil. The food served each will match the theme chosen for each day, he added.

Some of the major events at the convention include: Workshops and hands-on sessions on well-being, 10-12 hours of CMEs, Women’s Forum, CEOs Forum, “AAPI Got Talent”, Mehfil, Bollywood Nite, Fashion Show, Medical Jeopardy, Abstract Posters/Research Contest, Alumni and Young Physicians events and Exhibition and Sale of Jewelry, Clothing, Medical Equipment, Pharma, Finance and many more.

The convention will be held at the newly renovated Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio, TX located on the colorful and vibrant River Walk. This world-class facility will afford an intimate setting that will facilitate one’s ability to convey cutting-edge research and CME, promote business relationships, and display ethnic items. Vendor satisfaction and comfort are our top priorities.

Giving an overview of the programs for each day, Venky Adivi said, ““It takes a whole village to put together a fabulous convention, I am grateful to committee members, Chairs and Advisors. Special thanks to Ms.Vijaya Kodali for her expertise and skills.”

According to Dr. Rajeev Suri, President, TIPS SW, and Convention Co-Chair, Please get your Sombrero (Mexican Hat) ready for a special evening organized by Texas Indo- American Physician Society (SW Chapter) and culminate with Bollywood Dandiya Night,

Saturday Evening will begin with the Presidential Banquet, which will be followed by a live show by Bollywood’s one of the best “Shaan” Night. Sunday, we bid you “Hasta la Vista” with a closing ceremony,” said Dr. Vijay Koli, Advisor to the Convention.

Dr. Kiran Cheraku, Co-Chair of the Convention said, “On Friday, a popular Fashion Show, Abby V show and colorful Rajasthani dance is awaiting you.”  “On Saturday with the Celebration of International Day of Yoga on Riverwalk, imagine 100’s of people doing Yoga all around the Riverwalk,” pointed out Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Advisor for the Convention.

AAPI delegates will have a multidisciplinary CME conference that allows specialists and primary care physicians to interact in an academic forum. World-renowned speakers will discuss gaps between current and best practice of wide-ranging topics at the CME sessions.

Dr. Shankar Sanka, Co-Chair stated: “The 2022 exhibit hall is the vibrant nerve center of the convention. The unique layout offers maximum exposure to the pharmaceutical and commercial booth.”

Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Treasurer of the Convention added: “The exhibition stage will have the performance to keep our audience in the exhibit hall to keep our booth supporters happy. The research pavilion will enable you to view the outstanding works of our students, residents, and fellows.”

Dr. Hetal Nayak stated, ‘the most unique part of the convention is our Yoga-based Wellness Package which is thoughtfully created with world-renowned speakers. The experience can transform and inspire you.” In addition to colorful entertainment, exquisite authentic Indian cuisine, esteemed yoga gurus and experts, who will share their wisdom and lead the Wellness Sessions include: Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and  Dr. Param Dedhia.

“Our speakers are some of the best names in Wellness and Yoga- Dr. Akil Taher, Eddie Stern, Dr. Kaushik Reddy, Dr.Ajeya Joshi, Yog Guru Sharath Jois, Drs. P Vij & P. Dedhia, Sadhvi Saraswati, Dr, Smita Mehta, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa. And do not miss the world-famous yoga workshop by Yog Guru Sharath Jois,” said Dr. Kiran Cheruku, Convention Co-Chair.

The confirmed Plenary Speakers are Dr. Jack Reseneck, AMA President, and Dr.Peter Hotez, Nobel Prize Nominee. Other confirmed guests are legendary Sunil Gavaskar and Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director, National Drug Control Policy, World-renowned spiritual leader Sadhvi Saraswati and Dr. Prem Reddy, CEO of Prime Health Services.

For the first time ever, AAPI is planning to organize an In-Person Plenary Session on India-USA Healthcare Partnership with the Health Minister Of India, Mansukh Mandaviya (invited but awaiting confirmation from his office) during the Convention on Saturday, June 25th.

“Little Master” Sunil Gavaskar praised AAPI members for being part of the “greatest profession in the world.” He said, “It’s a unique honor to be part of the important AAPI convention in Texas. I am looking forward to meeting you all in Texas.” Mr. Gavaskar referred to his association with the “Heart to Heart Foundation” and how the Foundation is touching many hearts around the world.

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and from around the world will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We look forward to seeing you in San Antonio!” said Dr. Gotimukula. For more details, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

Abortion Ruling Leak Did Little To Change Americans’ Voting Intentions

When the leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization hit the press, suggesting the court is likely to overturn the Roe v. Wade precedent guaranteeing women the right to abortions, much of the conversation focused on how such a ruling would give Democrats a boost in the 2022 congressional elections.

However, despite intense political discourse in the media, the leak does not appear to have changed the minds of voters about the importance of the abortion issue. The finding is part of a forthcoming study conducted by marketing researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of California, Los Angeles.

The research also highlights how Democrats might better frame the abortion issue to attract new supporters and motivate their base ahead of elections.

Anticipating a controversial summer ruling in the Dobbs case, Raphael Thomadsen and Song Yao at WashU’s Olin Business School and Robert Zeithammer at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, surveyed 350 potential voters — prior to the May 2 leak — about their support for hypothetical candidates based on salient issues including taxes, illegal immigration, climate change, health insurance, poverty and abortion. According to the authors, an advantage of this conjoint style of polling is that it reveals not only which candidate the respondent supports, but also how strongly the respondent feels about each issue.

Shortly after the leak, the team surveyed potential voters again — 300 in all — to see how the news had affected candidate preference. Even before the leak, abortion was an important issue to most voters. The polls showed that abortion had, on average, a 30% weight in respondents’ candidate preference.

Much to their surprise, though, the authors discovered the leak did not significantly increase the weight voters place on abortion in comparison with other issues the poll considered. For Democrats, that number remained steady at 32% following the leak. For Republicans, that number dipped modestly from 29% to 27% following the leak.

“While the average importance of abortion to voters was incredibly consistent, there is some evidence that abortion became slightly less important of an issue to Republicans after the leak, although the shift is still fairly small,” said Yao, associate professor of marketing at Olin Business School.

“Further, we see that abortion became a more important issue for voters who voted for someone other than Biden or Trump,” Yao said. “However, that group represents just under 2% of the voting population, so even if the Democrats captured these individuals’ votes, it would be hard to see the impact of this shift in the balance of power that would emerge this fall.”

According to Thomadsen, professor of marketing at Olin Business School, there are two issues with the way that Democrats are trying to frame the abortion debate to gain an electoral advantage.

“First, we see the Democrats trying to brand the Republicans as being anti-choice. However, this preference is already baked into the support that Democrats and Republicans are currently getting,” Thomadsen said.

“What would really change the abortion debate, however, is that Americans, as a whole, are strongly against abortion prohibitions in the case of rape, incest or to save the health of a mother. Even many Republicans would prefer abortion being legal for a short amount of time — we tested 12 weeks — to having no exceptions made to the law.”

The team’s most recent simulations suggest that if Democrats can paint the Republican-enacted laws as not allowing for these exceptions, they could increase their net electoral advantage by up to 6%.

“This 6% would reflect a small increase in Democratic votes, but a sizable shift in Republicans who would decide not to vote,” Thomadsen said.

‘Even many Republicans would prefer abortion being legal for a short amount of time — we tested 12 weeks — to having no exceptions made to the law.’

Democrats also need to include men in their abortion messaging, Thomadsen said.

“Abortion is framed as an issue for women. However, we find that men are nearly as passionate — and pro-choice — about abortion as women,” he said. “While abortion is an issue about women’s rights, it is important for Democrats to use the issue to rally both men and women, not just women.”

Finally, Thomadsen noted that Democrats also could make inroads with voters on economic issues.

“While the focus of this study was to see how Americans’ preferences shifted toward abortion, we also measured the preferences for many other policies,” he said.  

“We find that fixing health insurance by expanding Medicare to everyone who is not insured is fairly popular,” Thomadsen said. “Similarly, if the Democrats proposed cutting taxes, that would also bring a lot of support.

“This could be done in a very progressive way. For example, reducing each household’s taxes by $2,000, and providing refundable tax credits for those who owe less than a full $2,000 in taxes, is a very popular idea.” Republicans also gain from lowering taxes, Thomadsen noted, but that is baked into their status quo numbers.

Monkeypox Due To Risky Sexual Behavior, Expert Says

A leading adviser to the World Health Organization described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals.

“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” said Heymann.

That marks a significant departure from the disease’s typical pattern of spread in central and western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates and outbreaks have not spread across borders.

To date, WHO has recorded more than 90 cases of monkeypox in a dozen countries including Britain, Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, the U.S. and Australia.

Madrid’s senior health official said on Monday that the Spanish capital has recorded 30 confirmed cases so far. Enrique Ruiz Escudero said authorities are investigating possible links between a recent Gay Pride event in the Canary Islands, which drew some 80,000 people, and cases at a Madrid sauna.

Heymann chaired an urgent meeting of WHO’s advisory group on infectious disease threats on Friday to assess the ongoing epidemic and said there was no evidence to suggest that monkeypox might have mutated into a more infectious form.

Monkeypox typically causes fever, chills, rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. It can be spread through close contact with an infected person or their clothing or bedsheets, but sexual transmission has not yet been documented. Most people recover from the disease within several weeks without requiring hospitalization. Vaccines against smallpox, a related disease, are also effective in preventing monkeypox and some antiviral drugs are being developed.

The disease can be fatal in about 10% of infections, but no deaths have been reported among the current cases.

WHO said the outbreak is “atypical” and said the fact that cases are being seen in so many different countries suggests the disease may have been silently spreading for some time. The agency’s Europe director warned that as summer begins across the continent, mass gatherings, festivals and parties could accelerate the spread of monkeypox.

Other scientists have pointed out that it will be difficult to disentangle whether it is sex itself or the close contact related to sex that has driven the recent spread of monkeypox across Europe.

“By nature, sexual activity involves intimate contact, which one would expect to increase the likelihood of transmission, whatever a person’s sexual orientation and irrespective of the mode of transmission,” said Mike Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London.

On Sunday, the chief medical adviser of Britain’s Health Security Agency, Dr. Susan Hopkins, said she expected more monkeypox cases to be identified in the country “on a daily basis.” U.K. officials have said “a notable proportion” of the cases in Britain and Europe have been in young men with no history of travel to Africa and who are gay, bisexual or have sex with men. Authorities in Portugal and Spain also said their cases were in men who mostly had sex with other men and whose infections were picked up when they sought help for lesions at sexual health clinics.

Heymann, who is also a professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the monkeypox outbreak was likely a random event that might be traceable to a single infection.

“It’s very possible there was somebody who got infected, developed lesions on the genitals, hands or somewhere else, and then spread it to others when there was sexual or close, physical contact,” Heymann hypothesized. “And then there were these international events that seeded the outbreak around the world, into the U.S. and other European countries.” He emphasized that the disease was unlikely to trigger widespread transmission.

“This is not COVID,” he said. “We need to slow it down, but it does not spread in the air and we have vaccines to protect against it.”

Heymann said studies should be conducted rapidly to determine if monkeypox could be spread by people without symptoms and that populations at risk of the disease should take precautions to protect themselves.

Covid Has Claimed Over 1 Million Lives In US Alone

More than one million people have now died of Covid-19 in the US since the pandemic’s start, according to Tuesday data from Johns Hopkins University — a reminder the pandemic is not over even as much of the country pushes to move away from Covid-19 measures.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the number of Covid-19 deaths in the US was about 32% higher than reported between February 2020 and September 2021. Provisional data from the CDC also shows the US surpassed the death milestone during the week ending on May 14, and a CNN analysis of data released by the agency shows that severe outcomes disproportionately affected older Americans and minority populations.

About three-quarters of all Covid-19 deaths have been among seniors, including more than a quarter among people 85 and older, according to CDC data. And while racial and ethnic disparities have lessened over the course of the pandemic, the risk of dying from Covid-19 has been about two times higher for Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians compared to Whites in the US.

Last week, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation marking a million deaths and ordered the American flag to fly half-staff, writing that the nation “must not grow numb to such sorrow.”

“To heal, we must remember,” the President said in a statement. “We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible.”

And it all comes as Covid-19 cases are rising again across the country, with reported infections more than doubling over the past month in the US overall. New York City reached the “high” Covid-19 alert level, indicating high community spread and “substantial pressure on the health care system,” officials said, and encouraged people to wear high-quality masks in all public indoor settings and crowded outdoor spaces, regardless of whether vaccination status is known.

Across the world, there have been more than 524 million cases reported of the virus since the pandemic’s start — more than 82 million of which have been in the US.

Grim milestones throughout the pandemic

The World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

  • The US reported its first 100,000 deaths about two and a half months later, by May 23, 2020, according to Johns Hopkins.
  • There had been 200,000 deaths reported about four months after that, by September 22, 2020.
  • There were 300,000 deaths reported less than three months after that, by December 12, 2020.
  • There were 400,000 deaths reported about a month later, by January 17, 2021.
  • There were 500,000 deaths reported about another month after that, by February 21, 2021.
  • There were 600,000 deaths reported about four months later, by June 16, 2021.
  • There were 700,000 deaths reported about three and half months after that, by October 1, 2021.
  • There were 800,000 deaths reported about two and a half months after that, by December 13, 2021.
  • Less than two months later on February 4, the US reported a total of 900,334 deaths.

Overall, death rates have been higher in the Northeast region of the country and lowest in the West, according to JHU data.

But at the state level, death rates have been highest in Mississippi, Arizona and Oklahoma — each with more than 400 total Covid-19 deaths for every 100,000 people — compared with Vermont and Hawaii, which have had about 100 deaths for every 100,000 people.

Globally, there have been more than 6.2 million reported Covid-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Vaccinations have saved millions of lives

Vaccinations for the virus have saved millions of lives, but about half of all Covid-19 deaths in the US have happened over the past year — when vaccines were already widely available for everyone age 5 and older.

And though the government has not shared an official estimate of how many vaccinated people have died of Covid-19, a CNN analysis of CDC data shows that deaths in recent months have been much more evenly split between vaccinated and unvaccinated people as highly transmissible variants take hold, vaccine protection wanes and booster uptake stagnates.

But the risk of dying from Covid-19 is still about five times higher for unvaccinated people than it is for vaccinated people, according to the CDC.

And evidence continues to build around the critical importance of booster shots.

Of those vaccinated people who died from a breakthrough case of Covid-19 in January and February, less than a third had gotten a booster shot, according to a CNN analysis of data from the CDC. The remaining two-thirds had only received their primary series.

AAPI Presents A Five-Week Webinar On Meditation Practices

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in collaboration with the Heartfulness Institute organized a five-week webinar, from March 20th to April 17th on Heartfulness Meditation Practices, guided by Revered Kamlesh D. Patel (DAAJI), who is the Heartfulness Global Guide, and initiated by Dr. Anupama Gotimukula President of AAPI and Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI. The Heartfulness Institute has held a series of wellness lectures that provide meaningful practices to AAPI physicians and continuing medical education credits.

AAPI members, including Dr. Chandra Koneru,  Dr. Murthy Gokula, Dr. Jayaram Thimmapuram, and Dr. Kunal Desai, who have been engaging in heart-based meditation for decades presented and led the hundreds of AAPI members who had joined in and participated in the webinars.

“The Covid pandemic has impacted all aspects of human life as never been before,” said Dr. Gotimukula.  “The past two years have been challenging to everyone, particularly those who are assigned with the responsibility of caring for the sick, especially as millions have been impacted by the big pandemic. There has been a noticeable rise in burn out among healthcare professionals,” she pointed out.

AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the country, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, has been focusing on ways to help AAPI members, who have been in the forefront helping millions of patients around the nation, to take care of self and find satisfaction and happiness in the challenging situations they are in, while serving hundreds of patients everyday of their dedicated and noble profession, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula said.

In this context, in partnership with the Heartfulness Institute, AAPI has embarked on a mission to educate its members and provide opportunities to promote self-care, improve physician wellness, and reduce burnout.

“Our physician members have worked very hard during the covid 19 pandemic. The Heartfulness Meditation has allowed AAPI to serve these hard working members who are our COVID 19 Heroes.  It is a perfect time to heal the healers with a special focus on wellness as we rejuvenate and relax,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, who, along with several AAPI members visited and experienced Heartfulness Meditation at the Kanha Shantivanam on the outskirts of Hyderabad, during the Global Healthcare Summit organized by AAPI in January this year.

The Heartfulness Institute is a not-for-profit organization established in 130 countries that provides meditation techniques that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, enhance emotional intelligence, and explore the depth of human consciousness.

The Heartfulness Institute’s mission is “to offer all humanity a simple and effective set of practices for relaxation, meditation, regulating the mind, and building inner strength and attitudes to create a lasting sense of fulfillment and overall, wellbeing.”

“Our practices include heart-based meditation,” said Dr. Chandra Koneru, an Internal Medicine Professional, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer. “Our values align with the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) mission to facilitate and enable Indian physicians to improve patient care and engage in research that brings distinctive contributions from India.”

The first webinar session led by Dr. Koneru was an introduction to Heartfulness practices: “A Program Overview: Why Meditate? Health, Happiness, and Harmony.”  Dr. Koneru said, “Meditation unleashes the potential within us that we never before knew.” He shared with the audience the values of meditation, how meditation translates to evidence-based health outcomes, and how the harmony and happiness that meditation can evoke in physicians can have a ripple effect on their patients.

Dr. Koneru explained the relaxation techniques physicians can practice to create restorative and refreshing energy boosts. He outlined what it means to connect with the heart, fix your thoughts, and allow divine energy to fill the heart through a practical demonstration. “Heartfulness relaxation techniques remove stress and tension from the body, calm the nervous system, and settle our breathing habits,” he said.

Dr. Koneru also discussed meditation methods, centering oneself, and finding inner stillness and contentment. Heartfulness meditation is supported by the ancient yogic technique of Pranahuti, which allows us to dive deeper into the heart from the outset., he added.

Dr. Murthy Gokula, M.D., C.M.D., DipABLM, Family Medicine, Geriatrics & Lifestyle Medicine, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, while leading the discussion on “Rejuvenation: Adding Lightness, Joy, and a Carefree Attitude to Life” spoke about the rejuvenation technique, which involves a well-established scientific methodology using guided imagery to remove the day’s stressful impressions and undesirable interactions.

Dr. Gokula said, “Cleaning purifies the mind of all its complexities and heaviness, allowing you to feel light in your approach to life. This 30-minute practice will detox your mind. After the rejuvenation technique, you will return to a simpler and more balanced state. Every cell of your body will emanate simplicity, lightness, and purity.”

Dr. Jayaram Thimmapuram, Internal Medicine, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, who spoke about “Inner Connect and Good Sleep and Cultivate Meditative Mind, Heartful Living” in two separate sessions, said, “Our quality of sleep and sleeping habits shape our physical and mental health. Our attention, intention, and attitude at bedtime play a significant role in transforming ourselves. With a proper attitude of humility, love, and openness to change, improving our sleeping habits can transform our lives.”

According to him, “Cultivating a meditative mindset is an outcome of meditative practices. A meditative mind is a dynamic state of inner stillness that progressively fills our life with contentment, calmness, compassion, courage, and clarity.”

Dr. Kunal Desai, an Infectious Disease Specialist, AAPI member, and Heartfulness Trainer, while addressing the participants on “Tips for Deeper Meditation Experience” stated that the best way to experience meditation and find purpose is to focus on health-related benefits like stress improvement, sleep quality improvement, and anxiety reduction. He suggested adopting an approach of sitting silently at your desk for a few minutes to focus inwardly. “This small practice can pave the way for more mindfulness and intentional acting. He also advocated for small moments of meditation before bed, prayer, and diary writing to focus on meditation,” Dr. Desai said.  “With interest and the right attitude, you can evaluate yourself to see that you will evolve to find the real purpose of your life,” he added.

Dr. Ranga Reddy, a Past AAPI President stated, “I have been with AAPI for over 25 years. This is the first time AAPI has collaborated with the Heartfulness program to bring awareness to physicians about the benefits of meditation in reducing stress and anxiety and improving patient care during these trying times. I hope AAPI will continue this collaboration to bring harmony and happiness to physicians, patients, and the public to create a healthy and peaceful society for the greater good.”

Dr. Rida Khan, who had attended the webinar, while sharing the impact it had on him, stated, “I have always been a meditation aficionado, so it was heartening to discover that it could be a continuing medical education activity. The practical meditation sessions taught the techniques in real-time and backed them with scientific, informative, and journal club-style didactics.”

Dr. Khan went on to state, “No doctor should battle the vicissitudes of the work of a physician alone. Introducing physicians to meditation provides a powerful tool to help alleviate stress, maintain stability, and enhance fulfillment in their lives.  It helps to meditate in groups to protect your practice from lapsing, receive regular feedback, and exchange intellectually stimulating ideas. Meeting like-minded people in your field broadens your perspective of how a physician should and could be. As a newly minted physician myself, I find it invaluable to have those role models in my life.”

What was begun as a five week series has been planned to be extended for a longer as the AAPI members have shared for the need and expressing as to how the sessions have helped them personally and professionally.

“Heartfulness meditation practices are offered free of cost. By connecting with a local trainer at one of our 6,000 global Heart Spots, you can dive deeper into meditation with free assistance from a certified Heartfulness trainer,” Dr. Gokula added. For more details, please visit: https://heartspots.heartfulness.org. To connect with a virtual trainer, download the Heart-In-Tune app at  https://www.heartintune.org.

For more information on AAPI and its several noble initiatives in the past 40 years, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

AAPI/CAPI CT Organizes Blood Donation Drive At Middletown Temple

The Connecticut Chapter of The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (CAPI) in partnership with the local American Red Cross, Middle Town  Hindu Temple and the national American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) organized a Blood Donation Drive at the Middletown Hindu Temple on Saturday, April 30th.

Led by Dr. Sushil Gupta President of CAPI, the 2nd blood donation drive by CAPI in the past few months has been inspired by the call by Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of national AAPI, who is leading AAPI in its efforts to host Blood Donation Drive in as amnay as 75 cities across the United States, to commemorate India’s 75 years of Independence.

“In line with the national AAPI’s motto, we at CAPI are happy to join in several other AAPI Chapters and lead this noble initiative to donate blood with the objective of saving lives around the nation,” said Dr. Sushil Gupta, President of CAPI. “We plan to organize future blood drives in other parts of Connecticut in the near future.”

Dr. Gupta expressed gratitude to “Drs. Subbarao Bollepalli, Sujata Prasad, Jaya, Daptardar, Viji Kurup from CAPI, who had volunteered to organize this event and made it successful.” He also thanked Hari Krishna, President of the Middletown Hindu Temple Board and Kiran Pyneni, who had helped to provide the venue and made all the arrangements for the blood drive.

“It is a spot exemplar as a ‘team work’ dedicated to the social welfare and happiness of the community,” said Dr. Jaya Daptardar, an organizer of the event and had donated blood during the highly successful event. “The Blood Drive, while honoring India on her 75th year of Independence, has been dedicated to the Fallen Heroes, who have sacrificed their lives to save the lives of others infected with the deadly Covid pandemic,” Dr. Jaya Daptardar added.

Drs. Sushil Gupta, Jaya Daptardar and Prasad Sureddy, in addition to  coordinating the efforts and organized the successful Blood Drive, also donated Blood during the Drive.

“I am grateful to the dozens of local AAPI Chapters including CAPI for initiating and organizing the Blood Donation Drives and Stem Cell Registration across the nation, in honor of the Fallen Heroes of Covid-19, and as India is celebrating 75 years of our Independence. I am so proud that we have taken this initiative to organize AAPI Blood Donation Drives in 75 cities across the nation,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI,) the largest ethnic organization in the United States.

Each blood component of a whole blood transfusion can help up to three different people. Pointing to the fact that Blood cannot be manufactured despite medical and technological advances. The only way we can give blood to those who need it is through donation. It doesn’t cost us anything to donate but your donation saves lives. Blood is needed every two seconds, said Dr. Meher Medavaram, Chair of AAPI’s national blood donation drive.

CAPI was formed with the objective of promoting charitable and philanthropic activities; communicating with other Indian associations in North America to promote cultural and social events, and fostering a relationship with future generations of physicians of Indian Ancestry. For more details of CAPI membership please visit: https://capionline.com

India Regulates ‘Ayurveda Aahara’

The Centre, with the ‘Food Safety and Standards (Ayurveda Aahara) Regulations, 2022’, has brought certain checks on Ayurveda Ahara, the food prepared in accordance with the recipes or ingredients or processes as described in the authoritative books of Ayurveda.

Among the important regulations is that the labeling cannot claim to cure or treat any human disease, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said.

This is applicable to food business operators who would be required to formulate Ayurveda Aahara in accordance with the categories and requirements as mentioned in the Regulations.

“However, this Ayurveda Aahara cannot be manufactured for infants up to 24 months age,” said an official from FSSAI about the Regulations put out in public domain by way of a notification late on Sunday night.

The government also clarified that packed food items used in day to day life for dietary purposes, such as pulses, rice, floor or vegetables etc. shall not be covered under this.

The Regulations also mention specific labeling and demand the manufacturer to use only that with specifications such as intended purpose, target consumer group and/or recommended duration etc.

It mentions a list of 32 additive items that are permitted in the Ayurveda Aahara. These include Guar Arabic/Acacia Gum, Konjac Flour, Jaggery, Mollasses, Paprika/Paprika Extract/Paprika Oleoresin and Caramel plain among others.

There are 71 authoritative books mentioned as part of the regulation, which also mentions the categories of Ayurveda Aahara and regulatory requirements. The Regulations also mention permissible contaminants and its maximum limits.

India’s Covid-19 Death Tally Estimated To Over 4.74 Million; WHO

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report on excess COVID-19 mortality has estimated 4.74 million deaths for India in 2020 and 2021, nearly 10 times higher than the country’s official coronavirus toll of 4.84 lakh during the two years.

India, according to the report, had the highest excess COVID-19 deaths, followed by Russia and Indonesia. Globally, the world health body has estimated that almost three times more people have died of COVID-19 than the official data.

As per the UN body, there were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by end-2021. The official count of deaths directly attributable to COVID-19 and reported to WHO in that period — from January 2020 to the end of December 2021 — is slightly more than 5.4 million. This means that the estimated toll is 9.5 million higher than the recorded fatalities.

Health ministers of several Indian states, cutting across party lines, appear to be united in questioning the veracity of the World Health Organization (WHO) report on Covid-19 fatalities worldwide, with India’s fatality count pegged at 4.74 million between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021 — labelling it “fabricated” and “devoid of facts”.

But why is the death tally doubtful?

The WHO report isn’t the first to question the death tally due to Covid-19 in India. Earlier too, several reports have come out with estimates of India’s Covid-19 death toll that has been at wide variance with the official figures. According to a University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, India’s fatality count due to the pandemic between March 2020 and early May 2021 stood at 6.54 lakh. A New York Times analysis, based on sero surveys, put the figure at closer to 4.2 million, up to May 24 last year while another study by The Lancet pegged the number at 4.07 million, between January 2020 and December 2021.

The gaps: 8% of all deaths in India are never registered, according to government data with just 20% of deaths being medically certified. In certain states like Bihar, Nagaland and Manipur, the registration of deaths with the civil registration system (CRS) is less than 50%. In fact, just one state — Goa — has a 100% record in registering all its deaths with the CRS. The Centre and the states, while dismissing WHO’s report, cited the death registration figures from the CRS to buttress their claims that India’s official Covid-19 fatality count is up to date.

Counting methodology: In the initial days of the pandemic, in 2020, only those people who tested positive for Covid-19 and later succumbed to it were counted as pandemic casualties. All those who may have died without being tested, whether at home or in a hospital — testing facilities were limited leading to delays in getting test reports — but who may have shown clear symptoms of the disease, as also those who had underlying health conditions such as diabetes or weakened immune systems due to cancer treatments were not counted as Covid-19 fatalities.

Revised guidelines following a direction by the Supreme Court, to both the Centre and the states to be more liberal in recording Covid-19 deaths coupled with the apex court’s order for paying Rs 50,000 as compensation for Covid-19 deaths led to a surge in claims being filed, which were higher than the official death count in several states, such as Gujarat. Some states, such as Kerala, have in fact regularly carried out ‘reconciliation’ exercises to update their official fatality figures.

New York City Raises COVID-19 Alert Level To ‘Medium’

As new Omicron variants further infiltrate the U.S., a jumble of signals suggest the latest increase in Covid-19 infections hasn’t sparked a commensurate surge in severe illness even as risks remain.

Covid-19 virus levels detected in wastewater in the Northeast, the first region to see significant concentrations of the easily transmitted Omicron BA.2 variant, appear to have flattened out in the past two weeks. Covid-19 hospital admissions have risen in the region, but they remain far below levels during earlier surges that indicated widespread severe illness and taxed healthcare facilities.

New York City raised its COVID-19 alert level from “low” to “medium,” amid a rise in cases in the city. The move did not trigger any major new restrictions, but it is a sign of the continued risk from the virus and an uptick in cases that has also been seen on a national level.

If the alert level rises again, to “high,” then the city will consider bringing back its mask mandate for indoor settings, according to New York’s color-coded system.

“If you are at a higher risk for severe disease due to age, underlying health conditions or because you are unvaccinated, consider additional precautions such as avoiding crowded indoor gatherings,” New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan tweeted Monday in announcing the move.

“We continue to strongly recommend all New Yorkers wear a mask in public indoor settings,” he added.  Cases have ticked up in New York City to around 2,300 per day, according to a New York Times tracker, though there is no sign of a steep spike like there was over the winter.

Hospitalizations in the city have also ticked up but are still at relatively low levels.

Nationally, most of the country is in a “low” risk level, as classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with small clusters of “high” risk in areas like upstate New York, meaning the metrics there call for mask-wearing indoors.

Cases nationally are also ticking up, but are not spiking like they did over the winter, and hospitalizations are at one of their lowest levels of the pandemic.

White House officials have pointed to booster shots and treatments like the Pfizer pill Paxlovid as allowing for a different phase of managing the virus, where cases much more rarely lead to severe disease.

The uptick in New York and nationally has been fueled by a more transmissible subvariant of omicron known as BA.2. New York health officials have also pointed to another subvariant, known as BA.2.12.1, as helping fuel cases there.

Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga Elected Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees

A practicing Internal Medicine Specialist from Las Vegas affiliated with multiple local area hospitals, Dr. Vishweshwar R. Ranga has been elected Chairman of Board of Trustees of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin for the year 2022-23.

Dr. Ranga with more than 35 years of experience in the medical field, has been associated with AAPI since his early days as a Resident in New York. “Since moving to the United States to pursue my career as a physician I have been closely following the entire spectrum of health care in the world’s largest economy,” recalls Dr. Ranga.

A team player and dedicated to the growth of AAPI, Dr. Ranga says, he wants continue to work with the team and ensure that AAPI’s voice is heard wherever relevant decisions are made that impact the physician community.

“My initiation into the Association of Physicians of Indian Origin to work on the membership drive and its directory during my residency at Mount Vernon Hospital in New York helped me understand more deeply the importance of community involvement and practices dear to this noble profession,”  Dr. Ranga says, who has worked hard towards the growth of this organization under the leadership of various presidents.

A medical degree holder from the Medical Academy of Sofia, Bulgaria, Dr. Ranga says, “AAPI is very close to my heart and I want to see it as more of an inclusive outfit, making a clarion call to physicians of Indian origin serving in some of the remote areas of the country to be part of this great organization and be driving forces of change.”

Dr. Ranga, who is known for his organizational skills helped to put together various national and regional AAPI events.

He has worked on several AAPI Committees including: AAPI Bylaws Committee, Membership Committee, Awards Committee, and Publications Committee.

Dr. Ranga has been recognized for his kindness, medical skills and going beyond the call of duty. “I was in good hands with him. I almost died from a car hitting me in a crosswalk. This man visited me every single day for one month. That is something I will never forget. Thank you, Dr. Ranga. Mom misses you,” Mike Cappello, a former patient of Dr. Ranga wrote on Social Media.

A visionary, Dr. Ranga began to work closely and encourage the second-generation Indian American physicians to be an active part of AAPI. In appreciation of his efforts, contributions and enormous support, YPS/MSRF recognized Dr. Ranga by making him the mentor of the group.

“My goal in the coming year is to formalize and create AAPI leadership academy working with executives from American College of Physicians for the development of leadership roles for all AAPI members. I want to work hard to engage young physicians and attract them to AAPI. They are the future of AAPI.” the newly elected Chair of AAPI BOT, says.

India-USA Healthcare Partnership Planned During AAPI’s 40th Convention

Coming from India, a nation that has given much to the world, today physicians of Indian origin have become a powerful influence in healthcare across the world. Nowhere is their authority more keenly felt than in the United States, where Indians make up the largest non-Caucasian segment of the American medical community. The overrepresentation of Indians in the field of medicine is striking – in practical terms, one out of seven patients is seen by doctor of in of Indian Heritage in the United States. They provide medical care to the most diverse population base of over 40 million in the US.

Not satisfied with their professional growth and the service they provide to their patients around the world, they are at the forefront, sharing their knowledge and expertise with others, especially those physicians and leaders in the medical field from India.

Since its inception four decades ago, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) has grown and is strong today and is the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian Origin in the US and is the powerful voice here in the US and back home in India.

Their contributions to their motherland and the United States have been enormous. Physicians of Indian origin are well known around the world for their compassion, passion for patient care, medical skills, research, and leadership. They have excelled in their fields of medicine and thus have earned a name for themselves through hard work, commitment, and dedication to their profession and the people they are committed to serving.

Through various projects and programs, AAPI has been leading healthcare initiatives and contributing significantly to offering education, training, and healthcare collaboration with Not-for-profit and government agencies across the nation. The flagship Global Healthcare Summit organized in India every year has been lauded for the tangible contributions AAPI continues to provide impacting almost every field of healthcare in India.

There is no instant solution for India’s myriad problems. But by collaborating with the governments both nationally and at state levels, and working with the government and NGOs, physicians of Indian origin can make a huge difference.

“AAPI in its unique way has made immense contributions to helping our motherland during the crisis and played a significant role in saving lives,” says Anupama Gotimukula, President, of AAPI. “Today, this esteemed panel is convened to nurture, and further, this collaboration between two of the world’s most challenging healthcare systems in the world’s two greatest democracies.”

Realizing this great mission, AAPI is for the first time organizing an In-Person Plenary Session on India-USA Healthcare Partnership With the Health Minister Of India, Mansukh Mandaviya (invited but awaiting confirmation from his office) during the 40th Annual Convention of AAPI on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, TX, said Dr. Jayesh Shah, Chair, AAPI Convention & Past President, AAPI.

The Panel Discussion is being moderated by Dr. Sweta Bansal and Dr. Rajeev Suri, Co-Chairs of the AAPI Convention Committees. The invited panelists include Dr. Rahul Gupta, US Drug Czar; Honorable Taranjit Sandhu, Ambassador of India; Hon. Aseem R Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston; Senator John Cornyn;  Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, US congressman; Rep. Joaquin Castro, US Congressman; Rep. Ami Bera, US Congressman; Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy, GHS 2022 India Chair; Navdeep S. Jaikaria, Ph.D., Founder, Chairman & CEO, SGN Nanopharma Inc., GAPIO President, BAPIO President, and All AAPI Alumni Chapter Presidents.

The role being played by the AAPI Charitable Foundation has been very significant, says, Dr. Surendra Purohit, Chair, AAPI Charitable Foundation. He will provide an update on the “Role of AAPI’s free clinics in India in the last 40 years.”

Recalling the many noble initiatives of AAPI, benefitting India during the Covid Pandemic, Dr. Sujeet Punnam, said, “Diseases do not have borders and collaboration in healthcare globally is necessary for the survival of humanity. It is this reality that the recent pandemic has engraved on our collective conscience.” The panel on “The Covid Crisis – AAPI physicians’ response during the largest global pandemic in over a century” will be led by Drs. Sujit Punnam, Amit Chakraborthy, & Raj Bhayani. Sewa International, which has been collaborating with AAPI in reaching the needed supplies to the neediest in India will be represented by Arun Kankani, President of Sewa International.

Dr. Lokesh Edara, Chair, Global Medical Education, who has been very instrumental in medical education, who is well recognized by NMC and medical education boards in India,  will share his persistent efforts in the past three years, and how every Medical School in India will have Emergency Medicine and Family Medicine at Post Graduate Medicine Program in India.

Dr. Thakor Patel will provide an update on AAPI Sevak Project, which has been serving millions of people across the many states in India. A new initiative under the current leadership of AAPI has been “Adopt 75 Villages” in India commemorating the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence and providing much-needed Healthcare Screening for chronic diseases, A Rural Health Project involving 75 Villages in several states. Dr. Satheesh Kathula, who has adopted his Village and believes “Over time, an improved village could lead to an improved region, state and country” will present this new program, whose focus is “prevention is better than cure.”

During the most recent Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad in 2022, AAPI had organized camps for Screening for Cervical Cancer and Vaccinations to prevent cervical cancer for 100 young women in Hyderabad. Dr. Meetha Singh, who has been part of the program will brief the audience on this new initiative, benefitting women.

TB Eradication Program by a committed team led by Dr. Manoj Jain in collaboration with USAID and now actively functioning in several states in India will be a topic for discussion during the plenary session.

Dr. Gotimukula, President of AAPI urges “AAPI members to consider joining this movement by participating and leading the India-US Healthcare Partnership. AAPI will work with you in coordinating the efforts and through the support system we have in several states, will help you achieve this goal of giving back to our motherland.” For more details, please do visit: www. aapiusa.org

FDA Approves COVID-19 Treatment Remdesivir For Young Kids

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday gave its first full approval for a COVID-19 treatment for children under 12.  The agency granted approval to the treatment remdesivir, also known as Veklury, made by Gilead Sciences, which has already been approved as a treatment for adults.

The treatment was earlier under emergency use authorization for children. Full approval from the FDA provides a more formal and higher level of endorsement than emergency authorization.

Still, the FDA stressed that remdesivir is not a replacement for vaccination, and there is still no authorized vaccine for children under 5, a source of stress and disappointment for some parents.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, earlier on Monday requested an FDA briefing on the agency’s progress on authorizing a vaccine for children under five.

Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for young kids could come in June, though previous timelines have been pushed back before.

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While the virus is generally less dangerous in children, the FDA noted severe illness can still result.   “As COVID-19 can cause severe illness in children, some of whom do not currently have a vaccination option, there continues to be a need for safe and effective COVID-19 treatment options for this population,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Today’s approval of the first COVID-19 therapeutic for this population demonstrates the agency’s commitment to that need.”

The approval covers children 28 days and older who weigh at least 3 kilograms and are either hospitalized or at high-risk of severe illness.

Tags also known as Veklury Coronavirus COVID-19 FDA Food and Drug Administration Gilead Sciences James Clyburn made by Gilead Sciences Pandemic Remdesivir The agency granted approval to the treatment remdesivir Veklury

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AYUSH Visa To Be Introduced By India

India is increasingly becoming a healthcare destination for millions of people seeking affordable, quality and effective healthcare services for people from around the world. Keeping in mind the rising demand of traditional medicine, the special AYUSH visa category has been introduced for foreign nationals who want to come to India for AYUSH therapy and invest in the sector.

During the inauguration of the Global AYUSH Investment and Innovation Summit at Gandhinagar in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India is going to introduce a special AYUSH visa category for foreign nationals who want to come to the country to take advantage of traditional medicine.

The Prime Minister announced that the central government will implement a specific AYUSH hallmark that will be affixed to the best grade AYUSH items manufactured in India. He said that the manufacturing of AYUSH medications, vitamins, and cosmetics is already booming in India, and that the opportunities for investment and innovation in the sector of AYUSH are infinite.

“With this visa, it will make travel easier for accessing Ayush therapies (in India),” said PM Modi while speaking at the inaugural session of the Global Ayush Investment and Innovation Summit 2022 at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. He added that the Centre has a plethora of initiatives to encourage and promote the Ayush sector, including the establishment of a digital portal to connect medicinal plant farmers with Ayush product manufacturers.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Union Ayush Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel were present at the session.

Adding that investment summits are key in taking any sector forward, Modi highlighted that the idea for an Ayush summit came to him during Covid-19 “when there was widespread panic across the world”. “We saw how ayurvedic medicines, Ayush kada and many such other products were aiding people to increase immunity. During the times of Covid-19, turmeric export from India increased manifold. Innovation and investment increase the capability of any sector manifold. It is time now to increase investment as much as possible in the Ayush sector,” said Modi.

Vision Improvement Is Long-Lasting With Treatment For Blinding Blood Vessel Condition

New research shows that a treatment for retinal vein occlusion yields long-lasting vision gains, with visual acuity remaining significantly above baseline at five years. However, many patients require ongoing treatment. Retinal vein occlusion is one of the most common blinding conditions in the United States; without treatment, central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO), the most severe type of retinal vein occlusion often leads to significant and permanent vision loss. A report on five-year outcomes of the Study of Comparative Treatments for Retinal Vein Occlusion 2 (SCORE2), was published April 21 in American Journal of Ophthalmology. SCORE2 was funded in part by the National Eye Institute (NEI), a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Retinal vein occlusion is caused by a blockage of the veins carrying blood away from the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This blockage can lead to macular edema where fluid becomes trapped within and under the retina, leading to rapid and severe loss of visual acuity. Without treatment, this condition typically leads to permanent loss of vision. The most effective treatment, injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drugs, helps control blood vessel leakage and swelling in the retina.

“While anti-VEGF therapy is associated with significant improvement in both retinal swelling and visual acuity in patients with central or hemi-retinal vein occlusion, our findings show that most of the patients followed still required treatment to control the macular edema for at least five years,” said Ingrid U. Scott, M.D., M.P.H., Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, chair of the study. “This demonstrates the importance of continued monitoring of these patients.”

In 2017, SCORE2 clinical trial investigators reported that two types of anti-VEGF treatment were equally effective at improving visual acuity in people with macular edema due to CRVO or hemi-retinal vein occlusion (HRVO). CRVO affects the entire retina, while HRVO generally affects about half of the retina. Half of the study participants had been given Avastin (bevacizumab) while the other half received Eylea (aflibercept). Both drugs were administered by injection once per month for six months. At the six-month mark, the vision of participants in both groups had, on average, improved over three lines on an eye chart.

As detailed in this new report, the study investigators followed SCORE2 participants for five years, collecting information about their visual acuity, treatments, and whether their macular edema had resolved. After the initial 12-month study period, participants were treated at their physician’s discretion. Most physicians reduced the frequency of anti-VEGF injections and some switched their patients to the other anti-VEGF drug. At five years, many participants had lost some visual acuity when compared to their acuity at the 12-month mark; however, they retained on average three lines of improvement, compared to their acuity at the beginning of the study.

“It was surprising to us that despite many participants still needing treatment after five years, their visual acuity outcome remained very good,” said Michael Ip, M.D., co-chair of the study from Doheny Eye Institute, University of California Los Angeles. “In comparison to this treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration, where initial vision improvements fade over time, these results are quite favorable.”

“This five-year study tells us a lot about what’s happening with retinal vein occlusion patients in the real world,” said Scott. “Prior to this study, retinal vein occlusion was widely considered an acute illness. This study shows that RVO is a chronic disease. It also underscores the importance of disease monitoring and individualized treatment to achieve the best possible vision.”

“The SCORE2 study provides invaluable data to guide clinicians and their patients toward informed decisions regarding treatment for retinal vein occlusion,” said NEI Director Michael F. Chiang, M.D.

The SCORE2 study was funded by NEI and Research to Prevent Blindness. Study drugs were provided by Regeneron, Inc and Allergan, Inc. Clinical trial number: NCT01969708.

Reference: Scott IU, VanVeldhuisen PC, Oden NL, Ip MS, Blodi BA, for the SCORE2 Investigator Group. “Month 60 Outcomes after Treatment Initiation with Anti-VEGF Therapy for Macular Edema due to Central or Hemi-Retinal Vein Occlusion.” American Journal of Ophthalmology. April 21, 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.ajo.2022.04.001

NEI leads the federal government’s research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs to develop sight-saving treatments and address special needs of people with vision loss. For more information, visit https://www.nei.nih.gov.

India-USA Healthcare Partnership with Health Minister Of India Planned During AAPI’s 40th Convention

Coming from India, a nation that has given much to the world, today physicians of Indian origin have become a powerful influence in healthcare across the world. Nowhere is their authority more keenly felt than in the United States, where Indians make up the largest non-Caucasian segment of the American medical community. The overrepresentation of Indians in the field of medicine is striking – in practical terms, one out of seven patients is seen by doctor of in of Indian Heritage in the United States. They provide medical care to the most diverse population base of over 40 million in the US.

Not satisfied with their professional growth and the service they provide to their patients around the world, they are at the forefront, sharing their knowledge and expertise with others, especially those physicians and leaders in the medical field from India.

Since its inception four decades ago, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) has grown and is strong today and is the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian Origin in the US and is the powerful voice here in the US and back home in India.

Their contributions to their motherland and the United States have been enormous. Physicians of Indian origin are well known around the world for their compassion, passion for patient care, medical skills, research, and leadership. They have excelled in their fields of medicine and thus have earned a name for themselves through hard work, commitment, and dedication to their profession and the people they are committed to serving.

Through various projects and programs, AAPI has been leading healthcare initiatives and contributing significantly to offering education, training, and healthcare collaboration with Not-for-profit and government agencies across the nation. The flagship Global Healthcare Summit organized in India every year has been lauded for the tangible contributions AAPI continues to provide impacting almost every field of healthcare in India.

There is no instant solution for India’s myriad problems. But by collaborating with the governments both nationally and at state levels, and working with the government and NGOs, physicians of Indian origin can make a huge difference.

“AAPI in its unique way has made immense contributions to helping our motherland during the crisis and played a significant role in saving lives,” says Anupama Gotimukula, President, of AAPI. “Today, this esteemed panel is convened to nurture, and further, this collaboration between two of the world’s most challenging healthcare systems in the world’s two greatest democracies.”

Realizing this great mission, AAPI is for the first time organizing an In-Person Plenary Session on India-USA Healthcare Partnership With the Health Minister Of India, Mansukh Mandaviya (invited but awaiting confirmation from his office) during the 40th Annual Convention of AAPI on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio, TX, said Dr. Jayesh Shah, Chair, AAPI Convention & Past President, AAPI.

The Panel Discussion is being moderated by Dr. Sweta Bansal and Dr. Rajeev Suri, Co-Chairs of the AAPI Convention Committees. The invited panelists include Dr. Rahul Gupta, US Drug Czar; Honorable Taranjit Sandhu, Ambassador of India; Hon. Aseem R Mahajan, Consul General of India in Houston; Senator John Cornyn;  Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, US congressman; Rep. Joaquin Castro, US Congressman; Rep. Ami Bera, US Congressman; Dr. Dwarkanath Reddy, GHS 2022 India Chair; Navdeep S. Jaikaria, Ph.D., Founder, Chairman & CEO, SGN Nanopharma Inc., GAPIO President, BAPIO President, and All AAPI Alumni Chapter Presidents.

The role being played by the AAPI Charitable Foundation has been very significant, says, Dr. Surendra Purohit, Chair, AAPI Charitable Foundation. He will provide an update on the “Role of AAPI’s free clinics in India in the last 40 years.”

Recalling the many noble initiatives of AAPI, benefitting India during the Covid Pandemic, Dr. Sujeet Punnam, said, “Diseases do not have borders and collaboration in healthcare globally is necessary for the survival of humanity. It is this reality that the recent pandemic has engraved on our collective conscience.” The panel on “The Covid Crisis – AAPI physicians’ response during the largest global pandemic in over a century” will be led by Drs. Sujit Punnam, Amit Chakraborthy, & Raj Bhayani. Sewa International, which has been collaborating with AAPI in reaching the needed supplies to the neediest in India will be represented by Arun Kankani, President of Sewa International.

Dr. Thakor Patel will provide an update on AAPI Sevak Project, which has been serving millions of people across the many states in India. A new initiative under the current leadership of AAPI has been “Adopt 75 Villages” in India commemorating the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence and providing much-needed Healthcare Screening for chronic diseases, A Rural Health Project involving 75 Villages in several states. Dr. Satheesh Kathula, who has adopted his Village and believes “Over time, an improved village could lead to an improved region, state and country” will present this new program, whose focus is “prevention is better than cure.”

During the most recent Global Healthcare Summit in Hyderabad in 2022, AAPI had organized camps for Screening for Cervical Cancer and Vaccinations to prevent cervical cancer for 100 young women in Hyderabad. Dr. Meetha Singh, who has been part of the program will brief the audience on this new initiative, benefitting women.

TB Eradication Program by a committed team led by Dr. Manoj Jain in collaboration with USAID and now actively functioning in several states in India will be a topic for discussion during the plenary session.

Dr. Gotimukula, President of AAPI urges “AAPI members to consider joining this movement by participating and leading the India-US Healthcare Partnership. AAPI will work with you in coordinating the efforts and through the support system we have in several states, will help you achieve this goal of giving back to our motherland.” For more details, please do visit: www. aapiusa.org

FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization To COVID-19 Breathalyzer Test

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Thursday that it had authorized the first test to detect COVID-19 through breath for emergency use.

The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer is able to identify five volatile organic compounds tied to the coronavirus in a person’s breath by using a technique known as gas chromatography gas mass-spectrometry, delivering results in less than three minutes, according to the FDA.

The agency said that in a study of 2,409 people, which included both people with and without symptoms, the test had a 99.3 percent specificity rate, which measures the percent of correctly identified negative test samples.

The FDA also noted that the InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer had a 91.2 percent sensitivity rate, which measures the percent of correctly identified positive test samples.

Still, the health agency said that a molecular test should be used to confirm positive test results returned by the COVID-19 breath test.

“Today’s authorization is yet another example of the rapid innovation occurring with diagnostic tests for COVID-19,” Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.

Bloomberg (4/14, Muller) reports, “A COVID-19 breathalyzer test with the ability to provide diagnostic results in three minutes has won emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency announced Thursday.” The test made by InspectIR Systems “is authorized for those 18 and older and in settings where samples are both collected and analyzed, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals or mobile testing sites.” The FDA “said the test was validated in a study of 2,409 people, where it correctly identified 91.2% of positive samples and 99.3% of negative samples.”

COVID-19, Overdoses Made 2021 The Deadliest Year In U.S. History

2021 was the deadliest year in U.S. history, and new data and research are offering more insights into how it got that bad.

The main reason for the increase in deaths? COVID-19, said Robert Anderson, who oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s work on death statistics.

The agency this month quietly updated its provisional death tally. It showed there were 3.465 million deaths last year, or about 80,000 more than 2020’s record-setting total.

Early last year, some experts were optimistic that 2021 would not be as bad as the first year of the pandemic — partly because effective COVID-19 vaccines had finally become available. “We were wrong, unfortunately,” said Noreen Goldman, a Princeton University researcher.

COVID-19 deaths rose in 2021 — to more than 415,000, up from 351,000 the year before — as new coronavirus variants emerged and an unexpectedly large numbers of Americans refused to get vaccinated or were hesitant to wear masks, experts said.

The coronavirus is not solely to blame. Preliminary CDC data also shows the crude death rate for cancer rose slightly, and rates continued to increase for diabetes, chronic liver disease, and stroke.

Drug overdose deaths also continued to rise. The CDC does not yet have a tally for 2021 overdose deaths, because it can take weeks of lab work and investigation to identify them. But provisional data through October suggests the nation is on track to see at least 105,000 overdose deaths in 2021 — up from 93,000 the year before.

New research released Tuesday showed a particularly large jump in overdose deaths among 14- to 18-year-olds.

Adolescent overdose death counts were fairly constant for most of the last decade, at around 500 a year, according to the paper published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. They almost doubled in 2020, to 954, and the researchers estimated that the total hit nearly 1,150 last year.

Joseph Friedman, a UCLA researcher who was the paper’s lead author, called the spike “unprecedented.”

Those teen overdose deaths were only around 1% of the U.S. total. But adolescents experienced a greater relative increase than the overall population, even though surveys suggest drug use among teens is down.

‘Experts attributed the spike to fentanyl, a highly lethal drug that has been cut into heroin for several years. More recently it’s also been pressed into counterfeit pills resembling prescription drugs that teens sometimes abuse.

The total number of U.S. deaths often increases year to year as the U.S. population grows. But 2020 and 2021 saw extraordinary jumps in death numbers and rates, due largely to the pandemic.

Those national death trends affect life expectancy — an estimate of the average number of years a baby born in a given year might expect to live.

With rare exceptions, U.S. life expectancy has reliably inched up year after year. But the CDC’s life expectancy estimate for 2020 was about 77 years — more than a year and a half lower than what it was in 2019.

The CDC has not yet reported its calculation for 2021. But Goldman and some other researchers have been making their own estimates, presented in papers that have not yet been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Those researchers think U.S. life expectancy dropped another five or six months in 2021 — putting it back to where it was 20 years ago.

A loss of more than two years of life expectancy over the last two years “is mammoth,” Goldman said.

One study looked at death data in the U.S. and 19 other high-income countries. The U.S. fared the worst.

“What happened in the U.S. is less about the variants than the levels of resistance to vaccination and the public’s rejection of practices, such as masking and mandates, to reduce viral transmission,” one of the study’s authors, Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, said in a statement.

Some experts are skeptical that life expectancy will quickly bounce back. They worry about long-term complications of COVID-19 that may hasten the deaths of people with chronic health problems.

Preliminary — and incomplete — CDC data suggest there were at least 805,000 U.S. deaths in about the first three months of this year. That’s well below the same period last year, but higher than the comparable period in 2020.

“We may end up with a ‘new normal’ that’s a little higher than it was before,” Anderson said.

WHO To Set Up World’s First Global Center For Traditional Medicine In India

The global center will the first-of-its-kind institution in the world to combine scientific research with ancient traditional methods of medicine.

The World Health Organization(WHO) and Government of India signed an agreement to establish the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine(GCTM) in Gujarat, India to promote traditional medicine backed by science and reasearch to improve the health of people all over the world.

With India set to establish WHO Global Centre for traditional medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region has called it a “game-changer.”

Traditional medicines, she said have been around for millennia and pointed out that nearly 80 per cent of people, in 170 of 194 WHO member countries use them.

“Despite their widespread use, traditional medicine lack robust evidence, data and a standard framework preventing their integration into the mainstream healthcare delivery system,” Dr Singh said in an exclusive interview with ANI.

“WHOs Global Centre for traditional medicine could be a game-changer by focusing on evidence and learning, data and analytics, sustainability and equity, innovation and technology to help harness the ancient wisdom and power of traditional medicine, and to advance the SDG 3 target of ensuring health and promoting wellbeing for all of all ages,” she added.

The center backed by an investment of USD 250 million from the Government of India, will be located at Jamnagar, Gujarat. The groundbreaking ceremony for the GCTM will take place on April 19, 2022, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Director-General of WHO Tedros Ghebreyesus.

Dr Singh said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus and expressed India’s keenness in establishing and hosting the GCTM in India so as to harness the potential of traditional medicine from across the world through modern science and technology to improve the health of people and the planet.

The Government of India last month signed the ‘Host Country Agreement’ with WHO for establishing WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India at Jamnagar, Gujarat, with its interim office at the Institute of Training and Research in Ayurveda in Gujarat. “Indian Government has generously agreed to support the setting up of the GCTM and its activities for the first ten years,” Dr Singh said.

Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic is stretching and impacting the health systems across the world, Dr Singh pointed out many countries felt the need to mobilize all available resources to recover from the pandemic and accelerate progress towards SDG 3 goals.

“The emerging burden of NCDs and mental illnesses have also created a demand for integrating evidence-based traditional medicine into the healthcare delivery system to promote health and wellbeing,” she said.

Dr. Joseph M. Chalil, MD, MBA, FACHE is appointed as the Chief Medical Officer of Novo Integrated Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVOS) and the New President of Novomerica Health Group

Dr. Joseph M. Chalil, MD, MBA, FACHE, Best Selling Author and Publisher of The Universal News Network, (www.theunn.com) has been appointed as the Chief Medical Officer of Novo Integrated Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVOS) and the New President of Novomerica Health Group, Inc on April 5th, 2022. In addition, Dr, Chalil will maintain his leadership of Clinical Consultants International LLC (CCI).

While announcing the appointment, Robert Mattacchione, Novo’s CEO and Board Chairman of Novo Integrated Sciences, Inc. stated, “Adding CCI and the impressive CCI team of highly respected, proven leaders in the medical community, led by Dr. Chalil, is a significant milestone intended to accelerate Novo’s expansion to both the U.S. and other global markets. As the healthcare sector worldwide is facing increasingly complex demands with incredible opportunities to leverage technology and new service models, Dr. Chalil and the CCI team are the perfect partner to accelerate the growth of Novo’s decentralized healthcare delivery business model.

Dr. Chalil and his team share Novo’s forward-thinking vision and combined with CCI’s exceptional talent undoubtedly make CCI a strong addition to the Novo portfolio of companies.” Novo Integrated Sciences, Inc. is pioneering a holistic approach to patient-first health and wellness through a multidisciplinary healthcare ecosystem of services and product innovation.

Under the terms of Novo’s acquisition, CCI will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company. CCI has an impressive international team of physician leaders, diplomats, hospital administrators, and regulatory/FDA experts.

“Working with Rob and the Novo team over the last year, I’ve witnessed firsthand Novo’s commitment to be a leader in the ongoing transformation of healthcare delivery worldwide,” said Dr. Chalil. “I cannot think of a better partnership for CCI and the CCI team and it is my honor to join the Novo team with this acquisition. I am excited to work closely with Rob and the Novo team to implement our shared vision for the path forward to improving access to high-quality healthcare services and products worldwide.”

Founded in 2006, the highly respected CCI senior strategic advisor team includes Ambassador Pradeep K. Kapur, IFS (IIT Delhi), former Indian Ambassador to several countries including Chile, Dr. Zach P. Zachariah, MD, Medical Director of  Health Cardiology, and the longest-serving member of the Florida Board of Medicine, Saju George, CEO for Garden City Hospital and Prime Healthcare’s midwestern region, and other professionals with extensive healthcare and hospital management experience.

Dr.Chalil served as Chairman of Novo’s Medical Advisory Board since April ‘2021. Dr. Chalil is an author of several scientific and research papers in international publications. He is also the Chairman of the Complex Health Systems Advisory Board, H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, and a member of Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine Executive Leadership Council.

A veteran of the U.S. Navy Medical Corps, he is board certified in healthcare management. He has been awarded a Fellowship by the American College of Healthcare Executives, an international professional society of more than 40,000 healthcare executives who lead hospitals, healthcare systems, and other healthcare organizations. Dr.Chalil has held roles of increasing responsibility at DBV Technologies, Boehringer Ingelheim, Abbott Laboratories, and Hoffmann-La Roche.

Additionally, Dr.Chalil is the former Chairman of the Indo-American Press Club. He is an expert in U.S. healthcare policy and a strong advocate for patient-centered care. A strong proponent of providing healthcare access to everyone, Dr. Chalil’s new book, Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic: Envisioning a Better World by Transforming the Future of Healthcare, is on Amazon’s Best Sellers List.

AAPI Elects New Leaders For 2022-23 And Beyond

(Chicago, IL: April 10, 2022) “We have successfully concluded our elections for the year 2022-23 for AAPI leadership positions,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, current President of AAPI, and Dr. Sajani Shah, AAPI’s Chief Election Officer and Immediate Past Chair BOT, jointly announced here today. “We thank the election officers Dr. Seema Arora, Dr. Sharad Lakhanpal, Dr. Sunita Kanumury, Dr. Arun Pramanik, Dr. Ashok Jain, and all of you for participating in the Election.”

While thanking the tens of thousands of Indian American physicians, who are actively holding membership at the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), and participated in the election process, Dr. Gotiumukula said, “I want to thank AAPI members who enthusiastically participated in the AAPI’s electronic voting process that was held over a period of nearly a month and have elected a new and dynamic team to lead AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States in the coming year and beyond.”

While announcing the results of the election after months-long campaigning for several offices to the national body and regional chapters, Dr. Sajani Shah, Chief Election Officer, 2022 said, Dr. Satheesh Kathula has been elected as the Vice President of AAPI, Dr. Meherbala Medavaram was elected as the Secretary and Dr. Sumul Raval was elected Treasurer of AAPI for the year 2022-23. Dr. Kavita Gupta, Dr. Sunil Kaza, and Dr. Malti Mehta have been elected to AAPI’s Board of Trustees for a two-year term.

Dr. V. Ranga will serve as the Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees for the year, 2022-23. Giving representation and strengthening the voice of young physicians of Indian origin, AAPI members elected Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala as the President, AAPI Young Physicians Section (YPS) and elected Dr. Ammu Susheela as the President of AAPI- Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section (MSRF).

“I feel very satisfied that the election committee has been able to do well in providing a very FAIR election to everyone, following all bylaws, while dealing with big challenges in implementation of this electronic process, taking extra security precautions, anti-hacking measures, fixing glitches, resolving disputes, anxieties, and concerns of the members,” Dr. Seema Arora, Immediate Past Election Officer, during whose term, the new electronic voting was introduced a year ago, said.

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, Immediate Past President of AAPI thanked the election committee members, and the entire Executive Committee led by Dr. Gotimukula for making this election smooth and transparent. Dr. Suresh Reddy, former President of AAPI congratulated the winners in the AAPI elections, and wished the new team under the leadership of Dr. Kolli the very best.

“As the incoming President of AAPI, I would like to congratulate my incoming new team for the fiscal year 2022-23,” said Dr. Ravi Kolli, who will assume charge as the President of AAPI during the 40th annual convention in San Antonio, TX in June this year. “I’m very honored, and consider myself fortunate to be bestowed with the responsibility of leading the four decades old strong organization with the cooperation and collaboration of an excellent group of dedicated, hardworking, and loyal officers and executive committee members who are with me to take AAPI to newer heights,” he added. Dr. Kolli did not have to contest the election this year, as he has been serving as the President-Elect during the past year.

Dr. Anjana Sammadar, who has been serving AAPI as the Vice President in the current year also did not face elections, as she automatically becomes the President-Elect of AAPI for the coming year. In addition to Dr. Samaddar, Dr. Ravi Kolli will have a dynamic and diverse team comprising of Dr. Satheesh Kathula as Vice President; Dr. Meherbala Medavaram as the Secretary; Dr. Sumul Raval as the Treasurer; Dr. V. Ranga – as the Chair, Board of Trustees; Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala – President, Young Physicians Section; and, Dr. Ammu Susheela, President, Medical Student/Residents & Fellows Section. Dr. Gotimukula will continue to guide AAPI as the Immediate past President of AAPI.

“I am looking forward to working towards strengthening the goals and mission of AAPI and to help make AAPI a healthcare leader in US and globally and work in the best interests of our Physicians and our community here in the US and server our motherland, India,” added Dr. Kolli.

While congratulating the newly elected leaders to the Executive Committee, Dr. Anjana Samaddar, the President-Elect in 2022-23 said here in a statement: “I want to congratulate all the winners of the election. I want to especially thank all the candidates for their passion and dedication to serving AAPI and regardless of the outcome, we need you as a valuable team member of our beloved AAPI.  ”

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, who won the election to be the next Vice President of AAPI, said, “I am humbled and honored to be bestowed with this responsibility and will work to the greatest of my abilities to reach our goals, addressing the challenges, and advance the issues important to our members. We will work together to promote our values of professionalism, collegiality, and excellence in patient care and enhance AAPI’s reputation as a premier professional organization offering educational programs and advocacy.”

Dr. Meherbala Medavaram, Secretary-Elect of AAPI said, “I would like to thank all AAPI members from the bottom of my heart for this honor and assure that I will sincerely work for the betterment of our beloved organization, AAPI. Once again, I thank everyone for the opportunity to serve.” She expressed gratitude to the Election Committee, who “successfully organized this election, with great participation from AAPI members.”

Dr. Sumul Raval, the newly elected Treasurer of AAPI said, “I am honored to be elected as the Treasurer of national AAPI. I appreciate and thank all of you for your trust in me. I will try everything in me to unite AAPI. Your guidance, support, and vote made this possible. This win belongs to all our members for trusting our vision of growth & progress. I hope to receive your continued support and love.”

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, the outgoing BOT Chair thanked the Election Committee for their meticulous planning and organizing the elections with integrity and fairness. She said, “I congratulate the winners and the new leadership who are entrusted with the responsibility of leading it in the year 2022-23 and beyond. I wish them the very best and my whole-hearted support.”

While conceding the election to Dr. Medavaram to be the next Secretary of AAPI, Dr. Krishan Kumar said, “Thank you so much for supporting me all these years.  I am glad to see the healthy spirit of all candidates (winners or not) for the association.  I will continue to serve this great association, AAPI, until my last breath. AAPI is a big family and full of talented people.  I cherish every moment of being part of it.”

In his message, Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, who was the past Secretary and conceded the election to Dr. Kathula, said, “I am thankful to my Supporters who gave me their precious vote honoring my 25 years of service for AAPI. Next year we will work harder and show the world that dedication and hard work for the betterment of AAPI, will eventually prevail and we will succeed. I congratulate all the winners. I wish Satheesh the best of luck as he moves forward with his new responsibility.”

The growing influence of physicians of Indian heritage is evident, as increasingly physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administrative positions across the nation. We the physicians of Indian origin are proud of our great achievements and contributions to our motherland, India, our adopted land, the US and in a very significant way to the transformation of the Indo-US relations.

Serving 1 in every 7 patients in the US, AAPI members care for millions of patients every day, while several of them have risen to hold high flying jobs, shaping the policies and programs and inventions that shape the landscape of healthcare in the US and around the  world.

Dr. Gotimukula, while reminding the members of AAPI said, “Since its inception in 1982, AAPI has been in the forefront, representing a conglomeration of more than 100,000 practicing physicians in the United States, seeking to be the united voice for the physicians of Indian origin. I hope and wish that the new Team under Dr. Ravi Kolli will continue the noble mission and strengthen our efforts to make AAPI reach greater heights.”  For more details, please visit: www.appiusa,org

AAPI ELECTIONS 2022 – RESULTS

The following are the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees & Regional Directors for the year 2022-23.

President Dr. Ravi Kolli
President-Elect Dr. Anjana Samadder
Vice President Dr. Satheesh Kathula
Secretary Dr. Meherbala Medavaram
Treasurer Dr. Sumul Raval
Immediate Past President Dr. Anupama Gotimukula
Chair, AAPI Board of Trustees Dr. V. Ranga
President, AAPI YPS Dr. Pooja Kinkhabwala
President, AAPI MSRF Dr. Ammu Susheela
Regional Director, Pacific Region Dr. Vandana Agarwal
Regional Director, Mountain Region Dr. Harnath Singh
Regional Director, NW Central Region Dr. Raghuveer Kura
Regional Director, SW Central Region Dr. Anil Tibrewal
Regional Director, NE Central-I Region Dr. Rama Medavaram
Regional Director, NE Central-II Region Dr. Suresh Sharoff
Regional Director, SE Central Region Dr. Pavankumar Panchavati
Regional Director, New England Region Dr. Saraswathi Muppana
Regional Director, Mid Atlantic-I Region Dr. Rakesh K, Mehta
Regional Director Mid Atlantic-II Region Dr. Hetal Gor
Regional Director, South Atlantic Region TBA
Regional Director, South Region Dr. Vijay Maurya
Board of Trustee Dr. V. Ranga (Chair)
Board of Trustee Dr. Jagdish Gupta
Board of Trustee Dr. Raghu Lolabhattu
Board of Trustee Dr. Sapna Aggarwal
Board of Trustee Dr. Lokesh Edara
Board of Trustee Dr. Srinagesh Paluvoi
Board of Trustee Dr. Kavita Gupta
Board of Trustee Dr. Sunil Kaza
Board of Trustee Dr. Malti Mehta
Immediate Past BOT Chair Dr. Kusum Punjabi
YPS Representative on Board Dr. Soumya Neravetla
MSRF Representative on Board Dr. Ayesha Singh

AAPI, IMA, And Tanvir Foundation Hold HPV Vaccination Camp In Hyderabad To Prevent Cervical Cancer

Hyderabad: April 11th, 2022: American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), in collaboration with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Telangana and Tanvir Foundation in mutual collaboration administered free HPV vaccines to the poor and deserving girls and women at the local Tanvir Hospital in Srinagar Colony, Hyderabad in India on Sunday, April 3rd, 2022 with the objective of preventing cervical cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths among women in India. This is the second stage of the two part vaccine campaign administered as part of AAPI’s efforts to create awareness and provide tangible support on this preventable illness for young women in India.

“We at AAPI, in keeping with our efforts and initiatives to educate, create awareness and provide support on disease prevention, AAPI is happy to be part of the Cervical Cancer Vaccine Awareness Program,”  Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President said. “The initial camp was organized on January 9th at Tanvir Hospital in Hyderabad as part of APPI’s 15th annual Global Healthcare Summit (GHS) 2022 held Avasa in Hyderabad, India,” and was inaugurated in person by Dr. Gotimukula and several other AAPPI leaders. Nearly 100 women were given the first dose. However, Dr. Gotimukula inaugurated the Free Vaccination Camp virtually from the United States on March 3rd.

The 2nd phase of the free vaccination camp was inaugurated with the lighting of the traditional lamp by IMA’s Telangana President Sampath Rao, IMA North President Raghunandan, Secretary Surendranath, Dr. Meeta Singh, and Dr. Naunihal Singh. AAPI Advisor Dr. Dwarakanatha Reddy inaugurated the vaccination camp. ““If vaccination programs are effectively implemented, approximately 90 percent of invasive cervical cancer cases worldwide could be prevented, in addition to the majority of precancerous lesions,” Dr. Dwarakanatha Reddy said.

“In coordination with the local organizers, AAPI donated the funds for the HPV Vaccination, a total of 200 doses for the vaccine for 100 children from the state of Telangana,” said Dr. Meher Medavaram, an organizer of the program, and the newly elected Secretary of AAPI. “AAPI’s this new initiative through education and awareness programs is aimed at helping save millions of lives in India,” she added.

Usually, cervical cancer develops slowly over time, and another powerful preventive measure is Pap test screening, a procedure during which cells are collected from the surface of the cervix and examined. The Pap test can both detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment outcomes tend to be better, and detect precancerous abnormalities, which can then be treated to prevent them from developing into cancers.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI, said, “Cervical Cancer is preventable through Vaccination and Early Pap smears and cervical examinations. Justifiably so, one of our preventive campaign goals this year has been to provide education and prevention of Cervical Cancer in India.”

Dr. Anjana Samaddar, current Vice President of AAPI said, “Cervical cancer could be the first cancer EVER in the world to be eliminated, if: 90 % of girls are vaccinated; 70% of women are screened; and, 90% of women with cervical disease receive treatment. This is an important step towards reaching goal,” she pointed out.

While elaborating the objectives of the Summit, Dr. Satheesh Kathula, the newly elected Vice President of AAPI, said, “In addition to Cervical cancer, GHS 2022 has provided education  on: Chronic diseases which can be prevented- notably diabetes, cardiovascular, hypertension, COPD, oncology, maternal and infant mortality, lifestyle changes,  geriatrics, management of neurological emergencies, ENLS, a certification course”.

According to The American Cancer Society, Cervical Cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. The cervical cancer death rate dropped significantly with the increased use of the Pap test for screening. Cervical cancer is among a number of cancers that can be caused by infections with pathogens – bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

“Through Continuing Medical Education and non-CME seminars by experts in their fields, AAPI provides comprehensive and current reviews and guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of various disease states to reduce morbidity and mortality and achieve cost effective quality care outcomes.”

Once a leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Today, screening and prevention have greatly reduced the impact of this form of cancer. Increasing screening and prevention are key components of the effort to eradicate cervical cancer. Since almost all cases of the disease are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, vaccines that protect against the virus could prevent the vast majority of cases. Moreover, regular Pap tests can catch – and lead to treatment of – the disease at the precancerous stage.

Describing some of the other ongoing initiatives by AAPI for prevention of illness in India, Dr. Sujeeth R. Punnam, Chair of AAPI’s Covid Relief Committee, pointed to the second in a series of Chemoluminescence Immunoanalyzer (CLIA) donated by AAPI, that has been commissioned last month in Stanley Medical College Hospital in Chennai, India.

“Chemoluminescence Immunoanalyzer (CLIA) and Beckman Coulter UniCel Dxl 800 access Immunoassay system has a throughput of 200 tests/hour and will make point of care testing like covid antibody tests, Ferritin, D Dimer, troponin, IL6, procalcitonin, CRP etc. easy. Each of these costs around $80,000. We are grateful to several AAPI members who have generously contributed to AAPI’s Covid Relief efforts, helping us raise over $5 Million.” A CME meeting was organized by the Biochemistry department to the staff as part of the event.

Expressing confidence, Dr. Gotimukula, the 4th ever Woman President in the four decades long history of AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, said, “Together we can all bring the awareness in the community to prevent Cervical Cancer in India which is 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in women!” For more information, please visit www.aapiusa.org/ https://summit.aapiusa.org

COVID Cases Rise Nationwide

A burst of high-profile COVID-19 cases in Washington, D.C., is highlighting the lingering threat of the virus, media reports here stated. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Cabinet members including Attorney General Merrick Garland, and a string of lawmakers, have all tested positive in recent days.

The cases are reminders that the virus is still circulating even as much of America moves forward from the pandemic. In fact, experts are bracing for cases to increase in the coming weeks, given an even more highly transmissible subvariant of omicron, known as BA.2, that is circulating widely.

“I do think we’re going to see an uptick nationally,” said Crystal Watson, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “The question is really how high it will get.”  Washington, as well as New York and other parts of the northeast, are already seeing upticks in cases.

The high-profile DC cases, “may be a reflection” of a new spike, Watson said, though she noted it is “hard to tell” exactly how wide a conclusion to draw from them.  “I do think we’re generally seeing an uptick in cases in D.C.,” she said.

Still, there are important ways in which any coming increase in cases will likely not be as bad as previous surges. People who are vaccinated, especially those who are boosted, have strong protection against severe disease, meaning that while they may still get infected, the symptoms are likely to be mild.

In addition to the protection offered by vaccination, many people across the country were infected during the first omicron wave over the winter, which means much of the population still has additional immunity.

“We now have a lot of immunity both from vaccines and from infection,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Brown University. “It’s hard to imagine we will see quite the levels of severe illness that we saw in earlier phases.”

Some experts now say that hospitalizations are a more important metric than sheer case numbers. With a highly transmissible virus and vaccines that protect against severe disease, the goal has shifted more towards preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed, rather than trying to prevent mild cases from occurring.

Notably, even as cases have gone up in Washington, D.C., and New York City, hospitalizations continued to decrease, though they tend to lag behind cases.

Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on Bloomberg TV this week that he hopes the higher levels of immunity in the population help blunt the worst effects of any coming increase in cases.

“I would not be surprised if we see an uptick in cases, whether that uptick becomes a surge where there are a lot more cases is difficult to predict,” Fauci said. “But the one thing that I hope, and I believe there’s reason that this will not happen, is that we won’t get a very large increase proportionately in hospitalizations because of the background immunity.”

Many of the high-profile D.C. cases have appeared to stem from the Gridiron Dinner, a gathering of many top officials. Gridiron organizers said Friday that 53 attendees had been infected.

Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University, argued in a Washington Post op-ed this week that events like the dinner can still go on in this new phase of “living with COVID-19,” especially if they use safeguards like proof of vaccination and rapid testing beforehand.

“There are those who would argue it’s irresponsible to hold parties that could turn into super-spreader events,” Wen wrote. “That was true before vaccines were widely available, but it’s no longer realistic. We need to use a different paradigm — one that’s based on individuals being thoughtful about their own risks and the risks they pose to others.”

Even for President Biden, the White House acknowledged on Friday that he might get the virus, but stressed the protection from he has vaccines and boosters, saying the country is “in a very different place.”

“It is possible he will test positive for COVID at some point and we’re in a very different place than we were…which is to say we have vaccines, we have treatments,” White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said on CNN. “The president is vaccinated and double boosted so, you know, protected from severe COVID.”

While there is a risk of a new uptick, the current situation is also greatly improved. Cases, at about 29,000 per day, according to a New York Times tracker, are at their lowest point since last summer.

Hospitalizations have plummeted to about 15,000, and are at their lowest point since the early days of the pandemic in 2020.  There are still about 500 people dying every day from the virus, concentrated among the unvaccinated.

While treatments and vaccines have put the country in a far better place, experts warn that Congress’s failure to provide more funding to fight the virus risks the progress.

The White House says testing capacity will decline in the coming months, and treatments will run out, if more funding is not provided. And if fourth vaccine doses are needed for all Americans, there is not currently enough money to purchase them.

The United States is also lagging other developed countries in its rates of booster doses.   “We have not done a good enough job on that front,” Nuzzo said, noting there should be a particular focus on reaching the remaining elderly who are not boosted.

About half of eligible adults and a third of eligible seniors are not boosted, according to CDC data.   Making sure people are boosted and protected is key, Nuzzo said, because “this virus isn’t going away.”

Highly Accurate 30-Second Coronavirus Test Developed

Newswise — With any highly infectious disease, time can be a killer. It is crucial to get a test result for a pathogen quickly, lest someone continue in their daily lives infecting others. And delays in testing have undoubtedly exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, the most accurate COVID-19 test often takes 24 hours or longer to return results from a lab.

At-home test kits offer results in minutes but are far less accurate or sensitive.

Researchers at the University of Florida, however, have helped developed a COVID-19 testing device that can detect coronavirus infection in as little as 30 seconds as sensitively and accurately as a PCR, or polymerase chain reaction test, the gold standard of testing. They are working with scientists at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.

The device, researchers said, could transform public health officials’ ability to quickly detect and respond to the coronavirus — or the next pandemic.

UF has entered into a licensing agreement with a New Jersey company, Houndstoothe Analytics, in hopes of ultimately manufacturing and selling the device, not just to medical professionals but also to consumers.

Like PCR tests, the device is 90% accurate, researchers said, with the same sensitivity, according to a recent peer-reviewed study published by the UF group.

“There is nothing available like it,” said Josephine Esquivel-Upshaw, D.M.D., a professor in the UF College of Dentistry’s Department of Restorative Dental Sciences and member of the research team that developed the device. “It’s true point of care. It’s access to care. We think it will revolutionize diagnostics.”

The device is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. First, researchers said, they have to ensure that test results are not thrown off by cross-contamination with other pathogens that might be found in the mouth and saliva. These include other coronaviruses, staph infections, the flu, pneumonia and 20 others. That work is ongoing.

The hand-held apparatus is powered by a 9-volt battery and uses an inexpensive test strip, similar to those used in blood glucose meters, with coronavirus antibodies attached to a gold-plated film at its tip. The strip is placed on the tongue to collect a tiny saliva sample.

The strip is then inserted into a reader connected to a circuit board with the brains of the device.

If someone is infected, the coronavirus in the saliva binds with the antibodies and begins a dance of sorts as they are prodded by two electrical pulses processed by a special transistor. A higher concentration of coronavirus changes the electrical conductance of the sample. That, in turn, alters the voltage of the electrical pulses.

The voltage signal is amplified a million times and converted to a numerical value — in a sense, the sample’s electrochemical fingerprint. That value will indicate a positive or negative result, and the lower the value, the higher the viral load. The device’s ability to quantify viral and antibody load makes it especially useful for clinical purposes, researchers said.

The product can be constructed for less than $50, Esquivel-Upshaw said. In contrast, PCR test equipment can cost thousands.

The research team also is studying its ability to detect specific proteins that could be used to diagnose other illnesses, including cancer, a heart attack and immune health. 

Fan Ren, Ph.D., a distinguished professor in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering’s Department of Chemical Engineering, and his team had been developing semiconductor-based sensor devices long before COVID-19 for nonmedical purposes.

He noted that he is inspired in his work by the recent death of his wife, which was unrelated to COVID-19. He connects his grief to the mourning of the world at large.

“Almost a million people have died of COVID” in the United States, Ren said. “Those are so many tragedies. Old people. Young people. You name it. I said, ‘No, that’s it.’ That is too much.”

He said several institutions have worked on devices using a field effect transistor, or FET, like that found in the COVID-19 testing device his team is developing. But those devices are basically one-offs — a sample is applied directly to the FET, which means the transistor is not reusable and must be discarded.

That makes those devices expensive and impractical for mass testing, Ren said. Then he hit on the idea of separating transistor from sample, like blood glucose meters that use test strips to collect a drop of blood after a lancet pierces a finger. This innovation, Ren said, makes the UF device unique, affordable and easy to use.

Ren said the device could be used for venues with large crowds, such as concerts, sporting events, classrooms, in addition to medical settings. Researchers say the unit would also provide access to accurate, inexpensive testing in rural areas or in developing nations.

And the personal uses, researchers say, are limitless — parties, baby showers and other small gatherings. “Yes or no. You’re infected or not infected. You get the answer right away,” said Ren.

Value-Driven US Healthcare System Continues, But More Work Remains

Newswise —Value in Health, the official journal of ISPOR—The Professional Society for Health Economics and Outcomes Research, announced today the publication of a report showing that 4 years after the 2018 ISPOR Special Task Force on US Value Assessments published its recommendations meant to advance value assessment methods, researchers have provided more rigorous theoretical and mathematical foundations for some novel value elements while others continue to lag behind. The report, “The History and Future of the ‘ISPOR Value Flower’: Addressing Limitations of Conventional Cost-Effectiveness Analysis,” was published in the April 2022 issue of Value in Health.

In 2018, the ISPOR Special Task Force on US Value Assessments published recommendations intended to help broaden the view of value in healthcare and spur new research on incorporating additional elements of value in traditional cost-effectiveness analyses. The members of the Special Task Force leadership group were Peter J. Neumann, ScD, Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA; Louis P. Garrison, PhD, University of Washington School of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program, Seattle, WA, USA; and Richard J. Willke, PhD, Chief Science Officer, ISPOR, Lawrenceville, NJ, USA.

Specifically, the Special Task Force identified and considered 12 potential elements of value, including 2 core elements (net costs and quality-adjusted life years), 2 common but inconsistently used elements (productivity and adherence-improvement) and 8 potentially novel ones (reduction in uncertainty, fear of contagion, value of insurance, severity of disease, value of hope, real option value, equity, and scientific spillovers). These 12 elements came to be known as the “ISPOR Value Flower.” In the past few years, the value flower, with its petals highlighting elements that may be overlooked or underappreciated in conventional drug value assessments, has been discussed and debated widely.

Now, years after the Special Task Force published its recommendations, the leadership group—Drs Neumann, Garrison, and Willke—have authored this important update describing recent developments and considering implications for future value assessments.

“Our review of conceptual and empirical papers published in the past 4 years shows that researchers have provided more rigorous theoretical and mathematical foundations for certain novel value elements (eg, severity of disease, value of insurance, value of hope) through generalized risk-adjusted cost-effectiveness analysis, which incorporates risk aversion in people’s preferences and uncertainty in treatment outcomes,” said the authors. “Empirical estimates are also emerging to support key elements, such as value of insurance, real option value, value of hope, and value of knowing.” 

While health technology assessment bodies have applied, or are considering certain elements as described above, other elements have yet to gain traction. The authors note that in part, the lack of uptake may simply reflect the recency of the Special Task Force report and other research. But it may also reflect other factors: a relative dearth of empirical estimates to support novel elements, the difficulties of changing established practices, the absence of strong incentives for US payers to consider non-health effects and externalities, an unwillingness of health insurers to consider elements such as option value or scientific spillovers because they rely on yet undiscovered innovation, or skepticism in the field. 

“Five years after the Special Task Force began its work, the development of novel value measures continues to evolve,” the authors note. “While it is encouraging to see supporting empirical studies emerging, more are needed. Additional efforts are also needed to illustrate how the estimates can be used in the deliberative processes that are integral to health technology assessments. Finally, it would be worth revisiting the design of the ISPOR value flower itself. Considerable discussion of value frameworks has continued without a consensus on any one specific parsing and identification of all the potential elements. Including novel elements will not solve all issues related to value measurement in healthcare. But they can help us think more clearly and comprehensively about the tradeoffs that individuals and societies are willing to make in their choices.” 

Additional information on ISPOR’s work on value assessment can be found on the Society’s Value Assessment Frameworks webpage.

ABOUT ISPOR
ISPOR, the professional society for health economics and outcomes research (HEOR), is an international, multistakeholder, nonprofit dedicated to advancing HEOR excellence to improve decision making for health globally. The Society is the leading source for scientific conferences, peer-reviewed and MEDLINE®-indexed publications, good practices guidance, education, collaboration, and tools/resources in the field.
Website  | LinkedIn  | Twitter (@ispororg)  |  YouTube  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  

 ABOUT VALUE IN HEALTH
Value in Health (ISSN 1098-3015) is an international, indexed journal that publishes original research and health policy articles that advance the field of health economics and outcomes research to help healthcare leaders make evidence-based decisions. The journal’s 2020 impact factor score is 5.725 and its 5-year impact factor score is 6.932. Value in Health is ranked 4th of 98 journals in health policy and services, 9th of 108 journals in healthcare sciences and services, and 24th of 376 journals in economics. Value in Health is a monthly publication that circulates to more than 10,000 readers around the world.
Website  | Twitter (@isporjournals)

COVID-19 Cases Rise, But Americans Are Eager To Move On

The nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C., has been hit with a string of high-profile cases in Congress and the administration, and cases in the city overall are on the rise. New York and other areas in the Northeast are also seeing increases, with Philadelphia announcing on Monday that it will reintroduce a requirement that people wear masks in indoor public places.  

But there are important ways that any coming spike in COVID-19 cases, fueled by a subvariant of omicron known as BA.2, is likely to be less damaging than previous surges, experts say. And that may lead the nation to treat a new rise in cases different.

First, it is not clear how steep any spike will be. While there are now upticks in the Northeast, there are not yet signs of the massive spike that hit over the winter. That omicron variant-fueled spike already infected many people, helping provide them some immunity against the current outbreak, in addition to the immunity provided by vaccines and booster shots.  

Second, people who are vaccinated and boosted still have strong protection against severe illness, even if it is possible they will get a milder infection. A new treatment, the Pfizer pill known as Paxlovid, cuts the risk of hospitalization or death by about 90 percent for people who do get infected.  

That combination of vaccines, booster shots and treatments means that even if cases rise, the hope is that hospitalizations and deaths will not rise by as sharp a degree.  

The White House is counting on booster shots and treatments to fight any new increase for the moment, rather than blunter tools like mask mandates or business closures. 

“We don’t have to let it dictate our lives anymore,” Ashish Jha, the new White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said on MSNBC on Monday. “If you’re vaccinated, boosted, you’re going to be highly protected. We have a lot of therapy now that’s widely available now for people who are at all higher risk, so even if you have a breakthrough infection, you can get treatments. That means that the virus should not control our lives anymore.” 

Fitting this new approach, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the end of February issued new guidance saying that people do not need to wear masks unless hospitalizations increase markedly, not just cases.  

“As long as hospitals do not become overwhelmed again, restrictions should not need to return,” said Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University. “Restrictions should not come back just to prevent infection.” 

President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, gave some support to Wen’s position in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.  

“We’re at that point where in many respects she’s correct, that we’re going to have to live with some degree of virus in the community,” Fauci said when asked about Wen’s views.  

As cases tick up, he added, “what we’re hoping happens, and I believe it will, is that you won’t see a concomitant comparable increase in severity, in the sense of people requiring hospitalizations and deaths.” 

There is still debate among experts about the new approach of focusing more on hospitalizations than cases.  

An example is the return of Philadelphia’s indoor mask mandate. The city cited rising cases in bringing the mandate back, even though the CDC metrics, which are based more on hospitalizations, say the city is at a “low” COVID-19 level that does not require masks for all.  

Asked about differing with the CDC, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said at a press conference: “We’ve all seen here in Philadelphia how much our history of redlining, history of disparities has impacted particularly our Black and brown communities in the city.” 

“And so it does make sense to be more careful in Philadelphia than perhaps in an affluent suburb,” she added.  

People who are immunocompromised are still at higher risk even with vaccines. Asked about more vulnerable people, Wen said that people could test as an extra layer of precaution before seeing an elderly relative, for example, but that it is “unreasonable” to expect all of society to keep its activities restricted for a third year with vaccines now available.  

Even if people are not hospitalized, there is also the risk of “long COVID,” lingering symptoms like fatigue and difficulty concentrating even months after one first gets ill. An American Medical Association fact sheet puts the risk of long COVID at 10 percent to 30 percent of patients, while noting that being vaccinated can help reduce the risk.   

First Post-Covid Convention With Fashion Show, Dandiya Night, Rajasthani Dance, Celebration of International Day of Yoga on Riverwalk, To Make AAPI’s 40th Convention In San Antonio Unique

“Bienvenidos a San Antonio, Tejas!” Dr. Jayesh Shah, Convention Chair and past President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) welcomes the over 1,000 AAPI delegates in Texan style. “It is with great pleasure that I, along with the San Antonio -2022 Convention Team, welcome you to the 40th AAPI Annual Convention in San Antonio, one of the top 8th largest cities in the US, with a population of 1.3 million. I still have vivid memories of inviting you to San Antonio in 2014. This is going to be the 4th convention in Texas.”

Describing that the Convention is unique in many ways, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President of AAPI said, “This is going to be the first AAPI convention post-Covid Pandemic (Optimistic view from my vantage point). All of you are aware of the challenges of doing a Convention during Covid Times. But our convention team is working very hard to make sure that event is enjoyable and safe at the same time. The registration is happening as per expected. Alumni and specialty groups are encouraged to come. Besides cutting-edge CME by outstanding speakers, there are various non-CME lectures. Enjoy Tex-Mex and Indian Cuisine.”

“The Convention this year is one day short. It begins on Thursday, June 23rd with the Texas Style boots and belts with TexMex Theme,” informed Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer. “Please get your Sombrero (Mexican Hat) ready for a special evening organized by Texas Indo- American Physician Society (SW Chapter),” said Dr. Vijay Koli, Advisor to the Convention.

Dr. Kiran Cheraku, Co-Chair of the Convention says, “On Friday, a popular Fashion Show, Bollywood Dandiya Night, and colorful Rajasthani dance is awaiting you.”  “On Saturday with the Celebration of International Day of Yoga on Riverwalk, imagine 100’s people doing Yoga all around the Riverwalk,” pointed out Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Advisor for the Convention.

According to Dr. Rajeev Suri, President, TIPS SW, and Convention Co-Chair, “Saturday Evening will begin with the Presidential Banquet, which will be followed by a live show by Bollywood’s one of the best “Shan” Night. Sunday, we bid you “Hasta la Vista” with a closing ceremony.”

Dr. Shankar Sanka, Co-Chair stated: “The 2022 exhibit hall C is the vibrant nerve center of the convention. The unique layout offers maximum exposure to the pharmaceutical and commercial booth.” Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Treasurer of the Convention added: “The exhibition stage will have the performance to keep our audience in the exhibit hall to keep our booth supporters happy. The research pavilion will enable you to view the outstanding works of our students, residents, and fellows.”

Dr. Hetal Nayak stated, ‘The most unique part of the convention is our Yoga-based Wellness Package which is thoughtfully created with world-renowned speakers. This will be equally valuable for an advanced practitioner of yoga as well as a novice!!. This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the theme of “Heal the Healers,” Convention Committee noted.

“Our speakers are some of the best names in Wellness and Yoga- Dr. Akil Taher, Eddie Stern, Dr. Kaushik Reddy, Dr.Ajeya Joshi, Yog Guru Sharath Jois, Drs. P Vij & P. Dedhia, Sadhvi Saraswati, Dr, Smita Mehta, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa. And do not miss the world-famous yoga workshop by Yog Guru Sharath Jois,” said Dr. KIRAN CHERUKU, Convention Co-Chair.

The confirmed Plenary Speakers are Dr. Jack Reseneck, AMA President, and Dr.Peter Hotez, Nobel Prize Nominee. Other confirmed guests are legendary Sunil Gavaskar and Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director, National Drug Control Policy, World-renowned spiritual leader Sadhvi Saraswati and Dr. Prem Reddy, CEO of Prime Health Services.

“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my Co-chairs, Kiran Cheraku, Shankar Shanka, Rajeev Suri, and Hetal Nayak, and unwavering administrative support from Venky Adivi, Convention CEO, Reddy Yelaru, and Ram Joolukuntla, Convention COO and Vijaya Kodali in AAPI office. My admiration and thanks to Anupama Gotimukula whose vision, engagement, and enthusiasm kept the team going. It was indeed a team effort by many more, to all, my heartfelt gratitude,” added Dr. Jayesh Shah.

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We look forward to seeing you in San Antonio!” said Dr. Gotimukula. For more details, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

Did India Ask WHO To ‘Hide’ Its Covid-19 Death Estimates For 10 Years?

The official global total of Covid deaths around the world is far below the real tioll the pandemic has claimed. Everyone agrees the true toll is far greater than what has been officially reported.  A study released last year looked at how much of a disparity there may be in India, one of the epicenters of the pandemic.

The analysis, from the Center for Global Development, a think tank in Washington, D.C., looked at the number of “excess deaths” that occurred in India between January 2020 and June 2021 — in other words, how many more people died during that period than during a similar period of time in 2019 or other recent years.

The study found that between 3.4 and 4.7 million more people died in that pandemic period than would have been predicted. That’s up to 10 times higher than the Indian government’s official death toll of 414,482 at that point of time in the pandemic period in history.

The researchers looked at India in particular because, says study co-author Justin Sandefur, the country was hit so hard by COVID-19. “The second wave in particular led to heart-wrenching stories from friends and colleagues — and a sense that official numbers are not capturing the true scale of that toll.”

Not surprisingly, a technical advisory group (TAG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) has told Devex, an independent news and development platform that the Indian government asked the global health body to publish its estimates of the country’s pandemic death toll “10 years later.”

According to the TAG report, authored in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, India’s actual Covid-19 death toll is at least four times higher than its official count of over 5.2 lakh. Interestingly, the TAG team includes Dr Anand Krishnan, professor of community medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, apart from two other Indian-origin doctors.

The WHO is expected to publish the report in early April as scheduled as “it would be irresponsible to say let’s wait until the pandemic is over, then we will reflect.” The upward revision, says the WHO’s TAG, is based on a count of both direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic. According to Devex, which quoted a WHO spokesperson, “the excess mortality estimates associated with Covid-19 provide a more comprehensive measure of the impact of the pandemic” since “the direct measure (deaths directly attributable to Covid) provides only a limited, and in many cases problematic measure.”

A spat in the making?
India, which has often bristled at previous independent studies, including by the medical journal Lancet, that have pegged its official Covid-19 death toll as a gross undercount, has hotly contested the WHO’s estimate, with the global health body’s report expected to double the worldwide death toll due to the pandemic from the current 6.14 million.

When counting “excess deaths,” the cause of death is not part of the data set. But during a health crisis like the pandemic, the assumption is that these additional deaths are part of the COVID-19 toll, said Ali Mokdad of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). They reflect not only those who died of the virus but those who might have died, say, of heart disease or diabetes because they were afraid to seek treatment during lockdowns, and those who killed themselves due to pandemic stresses, he added.

India’s official Covid-19 death toll has also come under scrutiny from the Supreme Court while fixing the compensation amount to be paid to next of kin of the deceased as several states have paid the ex-gratia to more number of people than the official death count. That apart, some states have also carried out ‘reconciliation’ exercises between actual and official fatalities.

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