Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO) aimed at connecting Indian-origin physicians including US physicians and from all over the world was launched in New Delhi last week. Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs inaugurated GAPIO and its first annual convention.
Indian physicians heal the global population in every country around the world, in the best healthcare institutions and in every specialty. They have proven their clinical excellence which the world well recognizes. GAPIO was formed to leverage that recognition and act as a catalyst in global health agenda. There are over 1.2 million Indian-origin physicians providing healthcare in about 180 countries.
Dr. Pratap C. Reddy, founder of Apollo Hospital group and chairman of GAPIO in his address said physicians with origins in India are transforming lives of patients with their now well recognized clinical excellence.
“We have been nurturing the need of common platform for all of us to be able to collectively influence global health in a positive and constructive manner.
Envisioned as an association by the Indian medical Diaspora, of the Indian medical Diaspora, for the cause of global health care, GAPIO has the vision of “Improving Health globally”.
GAPIO will facilitate professional networks for knowledge sharing, initiatives for research and healthcare education, working towards the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, involvement of the medical students and young medical professionals in shaping future healthcare and promoting ways and means of use of Information Technology in healthcare, Dr. Reddy said.
Commensurate to its vision, the mission of GAPIO is to empower physicians of Indian origin to achieve highest professional standards, to provide good quality healthcare, to contribute to local and regional community development; and thereby help to reduce inequalities and alleviate suffering globally.
Dr. Sanku Rao, former president of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and vice president of GAPIO said there are hardly any countries where Indian doctors are not serving the people. Indian physicians have become synonym with excellence. GAPIO will represent the Indian medical Diaspora that has seen some spectacular growth over the years and these collective brains will work for the improvement of global healthcare.
Dr. Rao said GAPIO will work with governments, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, centers of excellence, foundations and lend its expertise and also work closely in improving the health of common man. The focus will revolve around best practices, patient care and ultimately a disease free world.
Passion for India has brought the non-resident physicians together and soon it will have branches, affiliates and presence in many countries. Indian doctors living abroad have always been supportive of healthcare initiatives in India and provided their time and expertise.
GAPIO has ambitious plans to involve and facilitate networking of young physicians from Diaspora nations with India. These young physicians will be the driving force behind the organization to take it to next level and lead the change in the healthcare delivery system Dr. Rao added.
GAPIO will work to establish a platform where both Indian physicians as well as patients from abroad can come together for a common cause and provide opportunities for young graduates to obtain the highest quality training.
The organization will also facilitate young physicians to take part in international exchange programs and also provide a network for them to do social work in India.
Dr. Ramesh Mehta, president of British Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) and Secretary General of GAPIO, said Indian doctors abroad are keen to work in a variety of ways, including voluntary work, support in collaborative research and medical education. More than 40,000 doctors of Indian origin were working in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), a publicly funded healthcare system.
Approximately 10,000 doctors are retired or retiring and 15,000 doctors are in training and they are looking for opportunities in India. There is scope for a reverse brain drain, Mehta said. He suggested NHS-like health care system for India and said government should invest in public health as the burden of disease causes loss of productivity.
Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, in his inaugural address, admitted that Indian government spending on healthcare was not up to the mark and advocated public private sector partnership to improve healthcare in rural areas. He said there is a great divide between the urban and rural areas in accessing quality healthcare and the federal government is keen to work with GAPIO in bridging the gap. Indian healthcare sector is expected to grow to $14 billion in 2012 and medical tourism is expected to touch $2 billion very soon. He invited foreign players to play a positive role.
Dr. Dinesh Trivedi, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, addressing the concluding session of the convention, said interventional technology and access to better healthcare combined with provision of good drinking water and sanitation would create a disease free world with better productivity. “We need to adopt a hybrid model to ensure better healthcare and telemedicine will play a lead role in this.”
The intentions of the government may be good but things get bogged down in the bureaucratic mess. “Give a jolt to the government and there is no point in fooling ourselves that everything is rosy,” he said.
Dr. Vinay Agarwal, chairman of Indian Medical Association (IMA) said his organization will work with GAPIO in making a positive change in people’s life. The role of Diaspora physicians will be valuable in this task, he said.
Suresh Kumar, assistant secretary and director general of US Foreign and Commercial Services, a high-ranking Indian-American in Obama administration, said the goal is to ensure wellness and good health than better diagnosis and treatment to create a healthier population.
British High Commissioner to India Sir Richard Stagg praised the Indian-origin physicians in the UK for their stellar service to the community. Dr. Narendra Saini spoke on the objectives and logistics of various workshops and Anwar Feroz, advisor of GAPIO outlined the strategies of breakout sessions such as role of medical students and residents chaired by Dr. Raj Patel; research and global importance in healthcare chaired by Prof. NK Ganguly and application of health information technology chaired by Sangita Reddy.
Dr. Dinesh Trivedi presented GAPIO-2011 awards to those organizations and individuals for their contributions – BAPIO for improving healthcare in UK; IMA for service to 1.2 million Indian physicians; Dr. Hemant Patel, former AAPI President and a resident of New Jersey for initiating first ever Indo-US healthcare summit and Dr. Anand Pandurangi for creating awareness on mental health.