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US state turns to Indian American doctors

Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio has sought the cooperation of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) to turn the state into one with model medicare facilities.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2008 15:46 IST

Even as healthcare reform remains a burning issue in the US, one state in the country has turned to doctors of Indian origin to fix the system.

Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio has sought the cooperation of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) to turn the state into a model medicare state. AAPI could help focus better prevention strategy and look into healthcare disparity among ethnic divisions and geographic locations, he said.

Addressing the annual meeting of AAPI's Central Ohio chapter in Columbus recently, Strickland criticised over-dependence in the country on profit-hungry health maintenance organisations (HMOs) "with the result, less money is now available to physicians and patient care".

While noting that Ohio has strong healthcare providers, doctors and hospitals, Strickland singled out Indian physicians in the state for providing excellent medical care and their dedication to patients.

The governor said AAPI could play a leading role in clinical trials in the state, which accounts for over 25 per cent of all such trials in the country. Over 50,000 people of Indian origin live in the state.

Hemant Patel, AAPI president, said access to affordable and quality healthcare should be available to all Americans regardless of socio-economic status.

He said Indian American doctors, in particular, are frustrated by the lack of coverage for so many of patients, especially in the rural parts of the country.

"We want to be able to provide quality healthcare for the currently 47 million Americans that lack it," he said.

Patel said AAPI strongly believes that any health reform must involve the physicians' voice. AAPI, he said, had deliberations on the issue with 31 Congressmen in Washington last October.

John Johnson, president of AAPI's Central Ohio chapter, said the chapter, with over 400 active members, has reached out to the local community by conducting free health fairs and that a charitable clinic was being set up at the Chinmaya Mission School in North Columbus.

Headquartered in Chicago, AAPI is a 20-year-old umbrella organisation representing 130 member associations nationwide with a constituency of nearly 42,000 physicians, which is almost 17 per cent of the total number of doctors in the US.