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AAPI Panels Focus on Women, Health Projects

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Rasha Goel (left) observes Marlisa Brown preparing Socca with Black Bean Mango Salsa during the AAPI Food Festival, which was part of AAPI's Women's Forum and promoted balanced nutrition and overall well-being for women. (photos courtesy of AAPI)
  • LONG BEACH, Calif., United States

    The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin celebrated its 30th annual convention in between the sunny shores of Southern California and the shadows of downtown Long beach’s high rise building, but for many of the conference attendees the five-day event was anything but a day at the beach. With a myriad of professional development seminars and workshops spread out over the course of AAPI’s convention, held June 27 through July 2 here at the Long Beach Convention Center, attendees discussed a variety of health and lifestyle issues (I-W, July 4).

    In all, there were about one dozen seminars, workshops, and Continuing Medical Education sessions scheduled throughout the five-day convention, with topics ranging from health projects in India to advancements in medical technology.

    One of the highlights of the breakout sessions was the Women’s Forum, which featured female speakers addressing key aspects of women’s health.

    Shelena Lalji, an Indian American physician who specialized in obstetrics/gynecology for more than a decade, kicked off the forum with a presentation entitled, “Optimizing Women’s Health with Bio-Identical Hormones.”

    Known as “Dr. Shel,” the wellness-themed physician focused on women empowerment and advised AAPI attendees to proactively stay fit, diet properly, and maintain proper stress management, among other tips, in order to avoid health issues such as weight gain, heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer.

    “There is truly an epidemic of women not putting themselves where they need to be when it comes to health and well being,” Lalji told India-West. “What I try to emphasize is that women need to be empowered to take care of themselves, and that’s not a selfish thing but, instead, about self-preservation. Women have to take their health into their own hands.”

    An attorney specializing in family law, immigration, and medical IPA/HMO contracts, Anju Multani presented a discussion on “Women and the Law.” Much of her presentation focused on domestic violence issues, such as victim protection and immigration protection under the Violence Against Women Act.

    For example, Multani told India-West it was vital for members of the medical profession to learn “how to recognize (domestic violence) and how physicians can document it or be willing to testify on behalf of the victim.”

    Her discussion also delved into community property and nuptial agreements, a pair of topics that spawned an allusion to Albert Einstein’s marriage to and divorce of Beth Shak and how the latter’s million dollar shoe collection became a sore sticking point of the legal separation.

    “I wanted to provide knowledge about marital rights and obligations. I was surprised how many professional women are not fully informed,” Multani said.

    There were also a pair of speakers who gave broad overviews of proper nutrition and how proper love and intimacy among married couples and other relationships can have positive impacts on individual health.

    A food festival was also included as part of the Women’s Forum to promote healthy living.

    Chairing the AAPI’s Women Physicians Committee was Abha Gupta, who told India-West the Women’s Forum has become an essential element of the group’s annual convention “to bring about awareness and to understand how women are important to the profession.”

    AAPI’s first president, Navin Shah, hosted a discussion on health care projects in India. Recently meeting with health officials in Washington, D.C., about two weeks before the AAPI convention, Shah discussed a potential physician exchange between India and the United States as well as the introduction of specialty course in infectious diseases for practitioners working in India.

    The AAPI convention also featured six CME sessions, allowing the physicians to focus on professional development when not taking in any of the luncheon addresses or evening cultural programs.

    Among the topics discussed during the “Current Concepts in Clinical Medicine” session were menopause therapy and issues confronting breast, lung, and prostate cancer.

    Heart physicians and surgeons convened June 28 to discuss advances in cardiovascular diseases, while surgery in general was the focus of the June 29 CME session entitled “Advances in Surgical Procedures.”

    There were also CME training sessions on allergies and asthma, neurological disorders, and oncology.

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