APPNA Annual Convention 2010: Pakistani Physicians on the March
By Salim Chowdhrey, MD
Editor, APPNA Journal
Pictures above: Glimpses of the APPNA Annual Convention 2010. Dr Zeelaf Munir, President APPNA, is seen delivering her banquet address and getting a standing ovation (second row). Dr. James Rohac, President of
American Medical Association, is seen receiving a plaque from Dr. Zeelaf Munir (first row, extreme right). Congressman Howard Berman receives plaque from President APPNA (first row, second from right)
The 33 rd Annual Convention of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America ( APPNA) this year was held in Dallas, Texas, from June 30- July 4 at the spacious and elegant Texan Gaylord.
Under the leadership of its President Dr.Zeelaf Munir, APPNA outdid its own fine tradition of blending 1) Continued Medical Education ( CME ) that all US physicians are required to fulfill to maintain their license to practice medicine.2) Report on, and plan further their ongoing and new humanitarian and health projects.3) Have panel discussions on issues of concern. 4) Organize a shopping bazaar for the families, complete with a Ladies Fashion show. 5) And squeeze in four evenings worth of first class dining and entertainment .
The local host committee was headed by its chairman, the multi-tasking Dr. Jalil Khan. He was supported by Drs. Mehmood and Nadir and the very hardworking chairs of various committees and their spouses who addressed every minute detail in pre-planning and during the meeting to ensure smooth transition in the various and varying phases of the entire meeting. In their execution and style they proved matchless hosts.
The theme for the meeting was celebrating APPNA and the diversity of APPNA under an all inclusive big tent; emulating the Pakistan of yesteryear which only the earliest generation of APPNA remembers and cherishes, and which every member of APPNA yearns for a future Pakistan . It was as if this group of Pakistani-Americans had absorbed values from their adopted country without giving up the values of their own heritage.
And what a meeting it was; in the tradition, yet outdoing all benchmarks to set up new ones. It was the largest APPNA gathering ever with a total of 4000 attending. There were spouses and kids and family elders too. And youth participating actively, volunteering as part of host committee, producing newsletters and just hanging out.
The first day, Wednesday, the host committee owned it completely. People arriving at the Gaylord Texan were greeted with polite welcomes by men, flowers handed out to ladies by graceful and charming young girls, and now and then bursts of embraces between old friends and new ones too. To seal in our memories, the warmth and generosity of the spirit of the New Texans (Pakistani-Texans) a sumptuous reception topped the day. It was followed by the Chapter night and Sufi entertainment.
The meeting was formally inaugrated on Thursday by Mayor William D Tate of Grapevine with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The Mayor brought along with him a touch of Texicana , a marching band , complete with a twirler, some acrobatic dancers , and the Dallas Cowgirls. An unavoidable blending of the East and West complete with blushing, slant eyed ogling and outright unabashed American appreciations were noted by many.
Thursday evening is traditionally APPNA ALLIANCE NIGHT .Keeping the tradition the ladies made it an impressive family affair. That night a new event, a Tamseeli Mushaira was introduced. It was the brainchild of none other than Nadeem Ahsan. It was well attended and an instant hit. If the enthusiasm of both participants and the audience is a measure, it could become an APPNA tradition.
Friday was marked as a "Day of Solidarity" with physicians in Pakistan and families of victims of targeted killings and sectarian violence. A special event was arranged and prayers were offered.
Alumni night is the get-together of old school friends but much gets accomplished in this one evening. Alumni causes, scholarships, alumni-sponsored school projects, etc. And a keynote speaker from the Alma Mater and this year too all this was done with the usual energy and gusto.The evening ended with multiple parallel functions including a mushaira, a fashion show, a bhangra performance, and a Pushto recital.
The day sessions included fora and round table discussions on Health reforms in Pakistan, Medical Ethics in Pakistan, Patient rights in Pakistan The Principals and Vice Chancellors from Dow University of Health Sciences, Aga Khan Medical University , Allama Iqbal and Fatima Jinnah Medical Colleges participated. DG Health in Pakistan was also a guest.
Dr Zeelaf Munir, President APPNA, addresses the Convention
In a forum on sociopolitical issues Dr, Hoodbhoy offered his courageous and progressive views as a discussant.
CME lectures on Current trends in Medicine were given by Pakistani-American physicians from prestigious US institutions concurrently.
- APPNA Banquent on Saturday was the highlight of the Convention A record 2700 people in glittering attire and spiffy suits perfectly melded in the elegant setting and sophisticated ambiance. The banquet guests- Rep. Howard Berman of California. Chair ForeignRelations Committee - spoke about US Policy and his vision of US-PAKISTAN relations. Dr. James Rohac, President of the American Medical Association praised the contribution of Pakistani American physicians in US Healthcare System and made special mention of Dr. Busharat Ahmad’s work in AMA. Dr. Adib Rizvi (safaid baal wala farishta) presented an inspiring talk of his seminal effort in founding and his gratis work at Sind Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).
- Zeelef Munir, President APPNA, opened the dinner speech session and immediately took ownership of the evening with her graceful presence and her eloquent address. She spoke about the Pakistani –American Physician community and its contribution ever since the inception of APPNA 33 years ago. She made a compelling case of recognizing APPNA’s dual responsibility to the future of our American children in our adopted homeland and our country of origin. She illustrated the many facets of APPNA and APPNA’s presence whenever there was a need. She enumerated the many projects initiated by APPNA. The most recent project and of her own initiation being the launch of APPNA National Health Care Day on June 5. 500 health field volunteers of which 400 were physicians of different specialties took part at 40 locations across the USA . Free examination and care was provided to thousands of patients in their own communities. Dr. Munir also proposed future direction for APPNA in initiating and owning causes relating to healthcare both in the US and the motherland. The US media covered the event widely. She mentioned that she has fulfilled her pledge for election reform. This year's elections were transparent and free of rancor. Another initiative was in starting a youth conference with mentors from various fields. A math bee contest started by her this year was eagerly participated by young people.
- The election results were announced and the new cabinet introduced. The 2011 cabinet will include Dr.Manzoor Tariq-President, Dr.Saima Zafar-President-elect, Dr. Mubasher Rana- Secretary, Dr.Asif Rehman-Treasurer and Dr.Zeelaf Munir-Immediate Past-President.
- In the entertainment part Bushra Ansari warmed up the crowd to a pitch for Atif Aslam to heat up the evening with his dazzling and popular renditions. Showman par excellence that he is, he kept the young crowd entertained past 3AM .
- Sunday Morning Halwa Puri, Choley plus Nahari brunch a farewell meal, sent the participants of the Convention stuffed and smiling.
Under Dr. Munir’s leadership and Dr. Nadeem Ahsan’s chairmanship the summer edition of APPNA Journal was given a new face and a new format which was also unveiled at the Convention.