Dr. Sampat Shivangi shows the way to upgrade India’s healthcare ecosystem

iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-

India’s healthcare sector can be transformed into a world-class endeavor by the optimum utilization of information technology, medicine, finance, banking, and politics. Dr. Sampat Shivangi, a physician, an influential Indian-American community leader, and a veteran leader of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) while addressing the delegates during the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in Indore, India on January 9, 2023, spoke on the way forward for healthcare facilities in India and the role of the diaspora in promoting the healthcare ecosystem.

He said that to upgrade the nation’s healthcare facilities, the Government of India must collaborate and harness the resources available in large organizations like the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) – the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States, representing the interests of over 100,000 Physicians of Indian origin, who serve every 7th patient, making up of nearly 15% of the healthcare professionals in their adopted country.

A conservative lifelong member of the Republican Party, Shivangi is the founding member of the Republican Indian Council and the Republican Indian National Council. He is the national president of Indian American Forum for Political Education, one of the oldest Indian American Associations. Over the past three decades, he has lobbied for several Bills in the US Congress on behalf of India. He played a key role in lobbying for the first Diwali celebration in the White House. Shivangi is a champion of women’s health and mental health whose work has been recognized nationwide.

At PBD in Indore, Shivangi said, “As a founding member of AAPI, I want to stress the importance of working together with cooperation and partnership, which will make such a tremendous change in the Indian healthcare system.” He also highlighted the contributions and initiatives of AAPI and its members in several states, especially in the healthcare sector both in the urban and rural areas across India, serving millions of people.

During Covid, AAPI helped raise more than $5 million, which was used to procure and provide 2300 oxygen concentrators, over 100 ventilators, set up dozens of oxygen plants, and provide several Chemiluminescence Immuno-Analyzers (CLIA). In addition, AAPI has adopted several villages and closely coordinated the overall development by providing primary care and preventive medicine to dozens of rural villages across India.

“Health care across the world is regarded as an important determinant in promoting the general, physical, mental, and social well-being of people around the world and can contribute to a significant part of a country’s economy, development, and industrialization when efficiently improving human health and providing access to affordable high-quality health care,” said Shivangi and pointed out “medications manufactured by Indian pharmaceutical companies “flock every shelf of American general and pharmacies, at a fraction of the cost of their American counterparts.”

Shivangi put forth several suggestions: “Integration of mental health with primary healthcare through NMHR; Provision of tertiary care institutions for treatment of mental disorders; Eradicating stigmatization of mentally ill patients and protecting their rights through regulatory institutions like the central mental health authority and state mental health authorities; Initiate agencies on the model of SAMHSA to minimize substance abuse; Starting a nationwide telemedicine service on the US model of 988, 911; Incentives to programs of Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and social workers in the field of mental health; and, an awareness of mental health among the general public.”

Quoting studies that point to Mental Health emerging as an “ever-challenging task,” Shivangi said, “Nearly 1 in 5 Americans has some type of Mental illness. The US government spent $225 million in 2019 alone towards treating Mental Health. During the pandemic period, 78% of adults experienced a mental illness, an equivalent to over 50 million Americans, with millions of adults in the USA experiencing serious thoughts of suicide, with the highest rate amongst multi-racial individuals. He added that the US Government has initiated several measures to help people struggling with mental health issues.

Focusing on mental health in India, Shivangi said, “Mental Health literacy is the gateway for mental health intervention in India. However, there is a lack of awareness, which can lead to overlooking, misjudging, or dismissing the signs that someone needs help. WHO estimates 1 in every 8 individuals worldwide suffer from a mental disorder, impairment in childhood, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and psychosis in maturity and ending with dementia in old age. 5.6 crore Indians suffer from depression, while 3.8 crore suffer from anxiety disorders. Nearly 14% of India’s population required active therapeutic interventions, while only 1 out of every 10 people gets evidence-based treatment, in other words, 70% – 80% of persons in India receive no care affiliated with it.”

The national density of doctors, nurses, and midwives was found to be 20.6 per 10,000 people compared to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of 44.5. There are significant urban–rural differences in HRH with urban areas having four times greater doctor density than rural areas. Shivangi recommended that India requires 3 mental health experts for every 10,000 people, which means India needs an additional 30,000 psychiatrists, 38,000 psychiatric social workers, and 37,000 psychiatric nurses.

Dr. Shivangi urged the government of India to make efforts “to educate society to provide clients with prompt mental health support, prompt intervention, cognizance, & education of the issue. Therefore it is crucial to comprehend that individuals with mental illness have a right to spend their life with dignity and self-assurance.”

 

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