US lawmakers urge $2 mn for NRI heart research
Reflecting the concern over the rising incidence of heart disease among Indian Americans and the growing clout of this community in the US, several lawmakers have called for additional funding for medical research on this issue.
Representative Frank Pallone (Democrat-New Jersey), former Democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and has initiated efforts to secure funding for the study of cardiovascular disease and diabetes among Indian Americans that is currently under way.
Representatives Gary Ackerman (Democrat-New York) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican-Florida), the Democratic and Republican Co-Chairs of the India Caucus announced they would join him in this effort.
According to preliminary research conducted by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), cardiovascular disease and diabetes have had a severe and disproportionate impact on the Indian American community.
The organisation says that the number of incidents occurring in Indian Americans may be among the highest in the world for both men and women, and are possibly two to three times higher than the general US population.
In a letter Tuesday to the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labour, Health and Human Services and Education, Ackerman, Ros-Lehtinen and Pallone - joined by 18 members of the caucus - urged that approximately $2 million per year over three years be awarded to study the two ailments.
Under the request, the study - originally proposed by Pallone - would be included in the Labour, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2006. The study would be conducted by AAPI.
Physicians of Indian origin contend that current research on Asian American health issues does not adequately address the health needs of Indian Americans. Most scientific studies on people of Indian descent have only been conducted in India or Britain with very few in the US.
Indian Americans represent the third largest Asian American group in the US and one the fastest growing immigrant groups. There are currently 1.6 million Indian-Americans and this number has grown by 106 percent over the last 10 years.
"It is of vital importance that we gather this much needed data from Indian Americans across the US" Ackerman said. "Such information can help determine the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Indian Americans and help us explore ways to address the problem."
"This study, which I wholeheartedly support, would address the current gaps in cardiovascular disease and diabetes research among Indian-Americans living in the US" Ros-Lehtinen said.
"The prevalence of diabetes is strikingly high among immigrant Asian Indians in the United States," Pallone said. "It's time Congress provides the needed funds so a comprehensive multi-year study can be conducted. We need to discover not only why Indian Americans are disproportionately affected by this disease, but also ways we can intervene to reverse this disturbing trend."
AAPI President Vijay Koli said: "We know that this research is an essential and critical first step towards educating Indian Americans about the unique factors of Indian American culture, diet and trends which contribute to the high incidence of these deadly illnesses."
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