AAPI convention to pay tribute to doctors who died during pandemic

Ritu Jha-

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda

American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic medical association in the United States is holding its 39th annual convention and scientific assembly in Atlanta July 2-5.

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, the AAPI president, said attendance would be limited at the event, to be held at the CNN Center and Georgia World Congress Center, due to the ongoing pandemic.

Yet, many physicians, academicians, researchers, and medical students are expected to attend.

Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, chair for the AAPI’s 39th annual convention, put it in numbers to indica News, “We used to get 1,400 people but this time we have restricted it to 500.”

Gangasani said this year’s theme was a celebration of frontline workers fighting the pandemic.

“Lots of physicians died of Covid,” he said “We just want to give a good tribute to people and physicians.”
Asked how many physicians AAPI lost, he said 50 Indian doctors died, including one past president last November: Dr. Ajay Lodha, who was 57.

Dr. Sreeni Gangasani

Gangasani addressed the difficulties of holding a conference at this difficult time.

“Even sponsorship is not very high, he said, adding that the hardest problem was organizing entertainment.

“We used to get artists from India, but due to Covid no one is coming,” Gangasani said, saying the problems had caused the organizers to cut the four-and-a-half-day event convention by a day.

“We are taking baby steps now, and will get 700 [attendees] next year,” he said. “Right now,
it’s only for attendees. It is not yet decided whether it will be virtual or hybrid.”

Founded in 1982, AAPI’s objective has been to help the community and its members, Gangasani said, adding that it now boasted 20,000 life members and represented 80,000 physicians in the US.

Jonnalagadda told indica News that he joined AAPI, he answered succinctly: “Networking.”

As a matter of course, the convention also offers professional programs with cutting-edge continuing medical education (CME) sessions, panel discussions and also many guests and dignitaries from the U.S. and India.

Accordingly, some major themes being explored this time are “The Pursuit of Happiness In Medicine,” “Burnout Prevention and Wellness in Physicians,” “The Easy Life of a Hospitalist: An Illusion,” and “Meditation and Mindfulness.”

According to Dr. Ravi Kolli, vice president of AAPI, other themes at the CME sessions includes “Type 2 Diabetes in South Asians – the Unresolved Questions,” and “Cardio-oncology: Clinical Practice and Echocardiography.”

The convention also boasts a CEO forum, entertainment, and a women’s leadership forum. It will be
addressed by senior world leaders, including US senators, presidential candidates, governors, members of Congress, and Hollywood and Bollywood stars, said Dr. Amit Chakrbarty, secretary of AAPI.

Dr. Sajani Shah, the chair of the board of trustees, said the convention offers extensive academic presentations, recognition of achievements and achievers, and professional networking opportunities – both at the alumni and evening social events. As she put it, even with the pandemic, this was not an event to miss.