Dr. Sampat Shivangi Addresses “Role Of Diaspora In Promoting Healthcare Eco-System During Amritkal” At PBD In Indore – Ajay Ghosh

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“We want to make India’s Health Care a World Class Endeavor, by utilizing: A. Information Technology; B. Field of Medicine; C. Finance, Banking; and, D. Politics. Towards this end, he recommended that the Government of India must collaborate and harness the resources available in large organizations such as the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) which is 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,” 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) said, while addressing the delegates during the Pravasi Bhrataiya Diwas in Indore, India on January 9th, 2023.

As a founding member of AAPI, “I want to stress the importance of working together with solid cooperation and partnership, which will make such a tremendous change in the Indian healthcare system,” Dr. Shivangi said, while pointing out the many contributions and initiatives of AAPI and its members, who contribute immensely in several states, especially in the healthcare sector both in the urban and rural areas across India, serving millions of people.

During the recent Covid catastrophe, AAPI has provided extensive support to their motherland, he said. AAPI helped raise more than 5 million US dollars, which were used to procure and provide 2300 Oxygen Concentrators, over 100 Ventilators, 200 High Flow Oxygen, setting up dozens of Oxygen plants, and providing several Chemiluminescence Immuno-Analyzers (CLIA), each costing Rs. 50 Lakh. 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.

A conservative lifelong member of the Republican Party, Dr. Shivangi is the founding member of the Republican Indian Council and the Republican Indian National Council. Dr. Shivangi 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 through his enormous contacts with US Senators and Congressmen.

A close friend to the Bush family, he was instrumental in lobbying for the first Diwali celebration in the White House and for President George W. Bush to make his trip to India. He had accompanied President Bill Clinton during his historic visit to India.

Dr. Shivangi is a champion of women’s health and mental health whose work has been recognized nationwide. Dr. Shivangi has worked enthusiastically in promoting India Civil Nuclear Treaty and recently the US India Defense Treaty that was passed in US Congress and signed by President Obama.

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.

While acknowledging that India is a global leader in the manufacturing of affordable, innovative & quality pharmaceutical & medical devices across the world, realizing India’s goal of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” Dr. Shivangi pointed to how medications manufactured by Indian pharmaceutical companies “flock every shelf of American general and pharmacies, at a fraction of the cost of their American counterparts.”

Quoting studies that point to the fact that Mental Health has emerged as an “ever-challenging task,” Dr. Shivangi said, “Nearly 1 in 5 Americans has some type of Mental illness. This has caused the US government to spend $225 million in 2019 alone towards treating Mental Health. During the Covid pandemic period, 78% of adults were experiencing a mental illness, an equivalent of over 50 million Americans, with millions of adults in the USA experiencing serious thoughts of suicide, with the highest rate amongst multi-racial individuals.

Responding to realities, the US Government has initiated several measures to help people struggling with mental health issues, Dr. Shivangi said. “In the US, there are an estimated 350 individuals for one mental health provider, with programs such as Division of Prevention, Traumatic Stress, and Special Programs, Division of State and Community Systems Development, Division of Service and Systems Improvement, and National Institute of Mental Health. In addition, the Federal Government has set up several services which are easily accessible to those struggling with mental health issues, and enabling them to receive Get immediate assistance. The Veterans Crisis Line is a free confidential resource that connects veterans 24/7 with trained responders. The Disaster Distress Helpline 800- 985- 5990, which provides immediate crisis counseling to anyone facing natural or human-caused disasters,” Dr. Shivangi pointed out.

Dr. Shivangi said, they can get instant help by calling #911 in crisis; they can call or Text #988 Suicide & Crisis lifeline, a new Nationwide service, attended by trained staff, trained crisis counselors who can counsel, guide and get them admitted into nearby crisis center, community mental health center or hospital immediately that includes ambulance service. “This has caught nationwide attention. I would strongly recommend that India should think along these lines.”

The SAMHSA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is another major initiative of the US government. I serve on the Board of SAMHSA, a prestigious position, appointed by the President of the United States. I was first appointed by President Trump & now by the current President Joe Biden.”

Dr. Shivangi praised “India for making striking progress in health standards in the post-independence era. The sustained efforts to control the country’s population & the political will to march towards the SDG in health will help India to make a significant impact in the international health sector.”

The NFHS-5 carried out in this regard during 2019-20 has shown: There were 1,020 women for 1000 men in the country in 2019-2021; TFR has also come down below the threshold at which the population is expected to replace itself from one generation to next; Child Nutrition indicators show a slight improvement at an all-India level as Stunting has declined from 38% to 36%, wasting from 21% to 19% and underweight from 36% to 32% at all India level; • Incidence of anemia in under-5 children (from 58.6 to 67%), women (53.1 to 57%) and men (22.7 to 25%) has worsened in all States of India (20%-40% incidence is considered moderate).

Full immunization drives among children aged 12-23 months have recorded a substantial improvement from 62% to 76% at all-India levels. Institutional births have increased substantially from 79% to 89% at all-India Level

Focusing on Mental Health in India, Dr. 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, & psychosis in maturity and ending with dementia in old age. 5.6 crore Indians suffer from depression, while 3.8 crore suffers from anxiety disorders. Based on the analysis, due to these factors, “India will lose 1.03 trillion in economic value” based on a study by Lancet – British Medical Journal that reported that 35% increase in mental disorders in India.

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.

Pointing that there are as many as 70 million mentally ill people in the country of 1.3 billion, there are only 20,000 beds in 42 mental hospitals, due to lack of planning and funding by the government, Dr. Shivangi said. There are only 4000 qualified Psychiatrists, which is 0.2 per 100,000 population as against an average of 1.2 Psychiatrists among the nations of the world.

While the health ministry proposed to increase India’s public health expenditure to 2.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, it has remained within a narrow band of 1.02-1.28% of GDP. India is one of the 57 countries with a critical HRH shortage.

In inequities between the rural and urban is even more disturbing. Rural India has a shortfall of 24% Sub-Centers, 29% Primary Health Centers and 38% Community Health Centres across the country as per the Rural Health Statistics (RHS) 2020.

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.

Dr. 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, 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.”

Among the many suggestions, Dr. Shivangi put forth included, “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 & State mental health authorities; Initiate agencies on the model of SAMHSA to minimize substance abuse, a federal agency; Starting of a nationwide Tele service on the US model of 988, 911; Incentives to programs of Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and social workers in the field of mental health; and, more importantly, an awareness of mental health among the general public.”

Dr. Sampat Shivangi, an obstetrician/gynecologist, has been elected by a US state Republican Party as a full delegate to the National Convention. He is one of the top fund-raisers in Mississipi state for the Republican Party. Besides being a politician by choice, the medical practitioner is also the first Indian to be on the American Medical Association, the apex law making body.

Dr. Shivangi has actively involved in several philanthropic activities, serving with Blind foundation of MS, Diabetic, Cancer and Heart Associations of America. Dr. Shivangi has number of philanthropic work in India including Primary & middle schools, Cultural Center, IMA Centers that he opened and helped to obtains the first ever US Congressional grant to AAPI to study Diabetes Mellitus amongst Indian Americans.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi was awarded the highest civilian honor, the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas Sanman award in 2016 in Bengaluru by the Hon. President of India, Shri Pranap Mukhejee. He was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor in New York in 2008. He is married to Dr. Udaya S. Shivangi, MD, and the couple are blessed with two daughters: Priya S. Shivangi, MS (NYU); Pooja S. Shivangi who is an Attorney at Law.

Ajay Ghosh