2022-23 Achievements

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 took part 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.

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.

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. It is the 5 largest of economies in the world now surpassing our colonial occupier UK.

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 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.

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.”

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.

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.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said the Indian American community needs to make its presence known. 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.”

“Indian American physicians have made vital contributions to the health care field,” said Dr. 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 wants to thank Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal for introducing the critical legislation, South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act (H.R. 3771).

US House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the H.R. 3771 on May 18, 2022, and it is now set to advance to the full House and Congresswoman Jayapal working with her colleagues to ensure its passage in the house.

Heart disease is the number one Global Public Health problem. South Asians are at 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, as they tend to develop heart disease ten years earlier than other groups and morbidity as well as mortality are higher among them compared to any other ethnic group.

We all are aware that while, we South Asians make up only 23% of the global population, we 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. In view of this, AAPI has an ad hoc committee chaired by Dr. Brahma Sharma focusing on heart disease awareness, prevention and treatment and have been working on various initiatives for past couple of years to advance legislation as well as research and public and professional educational programs. AAPI appreciates ACC American College pf Cardiology’s strong support of this bill.
https://www.acc.org/Latest-in-Cardiology/Articles/2022/05/12/16/38/South-Asian-Heart-Health-Awareness-and-Research-Act-Passes-Key-House-Committee

Here is the recent interview with Dr. Alka Kanaya and Dr. Namrata Kandula of MASALA Study from Medical News & Perspectives of JAMA
July 13, 2022.

MASALA Study Probes Why People With South Asian Ancestry Have Increased Cardiovascular Disease Risks
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2794433

The South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act (H.R. 3771) 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 authorizes to establish programs to support heart-disease research and awareness among communities disproportionately affected by heart disease, including the South Asian population of the United States.

H.R. 3731, if passed by both full House and Senate and signed as legislation by President Biden will

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. Develop a clearinghouse and web portal of information on heart health research, such as South Asian heart health.

We request all AAPI members and leaders to contact their area Congressmen and Senators to urge them to support this important bill.


https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/3771

We request all AAPI members and leaders to contact their area Congressmen and Senators to urge them to support this important bill.

 


VIDEO MESSAGE
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s video message to AAPI

AAPI applauds the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act (H.R. 7666).

H.R. 7666 is a crucial step forward to address the nation’s escalating mental health crisis urgently and seriously. This legislation will help address record levels of overdose and suicide deaths, the child and adolescent mental health crisis, and the adverse psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Americans.

According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, there were more than 100,000 opioid-related deaths in the 12-month period ending in April 2021. That’s a 28.5% increase from the same period last year.

On the mental health side of the legislation, the bill would continue investments in block grants to states and extend mental health screening and treatment grants. There is a big emphasis on American Indians and Alaskan Native communities.

Additionally, the bill would reauthorize several pediatric mental health programs, including pediatric mental health grants and the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances Program. In addition to reauthorizing critical federal programs that promote access and coverage to mental health and substance use disorder services, H.R. 7666 incorporates several important provisions including:

• Parity: Eliminates the parity opt-out for non-federal governmental health plans and provides funding for state insurance departments to enforce and ensure compliance with the mental health parity law.
• Collaborative Care: Supports uptake of the evidence-based Collaborative Care Model via grants to primary care practices to better integrate behavioral healthcare into primary care settings.
• Crisis Services: Directs funding through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for 9-8-8 Lifeline implementation and supports state implementation of the Lifeline through technical assistance and coordination.
• Workforce Equity Investments: Makes crucial investments in our behavioral health care workforce by reauthorizing and increasing authorized funding for SAMHSA’s Minority Fellowship Program.

The Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act also reauthorizes many other important mental health and substance use disorder programs administered by SAMHSA and the Health Resources and Services Administration. AAPI will advocate for the bill as it moves to the Senate and will work and collaborate with other stakeholders like APA, IAPA, NAMI etc.