APPNA Annual Spring Meeting 2023” was held in Orlando, in the majestic Shingle Creek, from 17th March to 19th March with the usual warmth and fervor. Dr. Sharif Uz Zaman Khan, a distinguished Hospitalist in Orlando and chair of the host committee inaugurated the conference. The inauguration ceremony was followed by an engaging talent show, arranged by Ms. Fariya Afridi, where members of the conference took this opportunity to flaunt their, often hidden, talent in singing, poetry, and acting. Other events followed in the multiple meeting and conference rooms of the sprawling Shingle Creek.
APPNA has a long-standing commitment to offering continuing medical education for physicians and healthcare professionals. On Friday 17th March an AMA-certified Continuing Medical Education (CME) seminar was arranged by Co-Chair Dr. Khurram Moin. The programs are designed to engage learners in interactive sessions; provide the most up-to date information and strategies; and develop or enhance skills that may be applied in clinical practice, research, or teaching. A total of 8 hours of CME sessions were held. During this session, speakers talked about various topics including advocacy, innovation in healthcare, improving collective brilliance, etc.
Evening brought an altogether different dimension to the venue. Dr. Umer Khan had organized ‘Khudi’ talks series. Poet of East, Iqbal was on minds when physicians talked about knowing one’s inner capabilities and potential through contemplation, introspection, self-realization, and determined action. But exploiting the huge expanse of Shingle Creek, other participants and families were busy organizing an Eid Bazar with it’s colorful stalls.
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Friday night concluded with a well-attended banquet dinner followed by musical performances by Bilal Patel and Hassan Jehangir. Irfan Aslam was the master of ceremony. An Urdu mushaira was the final event of the day enjoyed by poetry lovers, ending the evening on a high note.
With PSL fever in full swing back home, Saturday morning at the Shingle Creek commenced with the screening of the final match of the PSL. This was followed by a medical malpractice question and answers session with defense attorneys, that was hosted by Dr. Khizzar Shaukat.
Diversity of events from sports to media freedoms
APPNA is strictly a non-political, educational and cultural forum. Yet members are always interested to discuss larger issues related to home country. Pakistan’s ongoing turbulent political landscape was on every mind. APPNA Social forum had invited Dr. Moeed Pirzada, prominent TV Anchor and Editor of Global Village Space from Washington, and Raza Rumi, author and columnist, from Ithaca, New York. Seminar “Pakistan at Political & Economic Crossroads” attracted a huge gathering of doctors. This session hosted by Dr. Abdul Jabbar was heated and participants minced no words in expressing their fears about the nature and direction of political change in Pakistan – especially the collapse of media freedoms and worsening situation of human rights.
APPNA council meeting was hosted by APPNA President Dr. Arshad Rehan and was attended by the board of directors and council members. Important to mention that, APPNA elects a new president each year and this process is completed months before the transition. So, President (Elect). Dr Asif Mohiuddin, a graduate of Dow Medical College, and his wife, Farheen, graced the meeting in Orlando.
A little flavor of culture was added by Khyber Alumni retreat which was hosted by the legendary Pashto actor Ismail Shahid. Members thoroughly enjoyed the Pashtoon musicians effortlessly playing the rabab and tabla. Not everything was indoor; taking advantage of Single Creeks’ sprawling grounds, a golf excursion, male and female cricket, match, and tennis matches were also arranged. Saturday night banquet was heavily attended. Ambassador of Pakistan, Sardar Masood Khan was expected but he fell sick and was represented by Consul General of Pakistan, Mr. Ibrar Hashmi who came from Chicago – and was the keynote speaker. Five previous APPNA presidents and Dr. Moeed Pirzada who stayed on for the banquet added to the discussions.
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In the closing ceremony, Dr. Sharif Uz Zaman Khan, the chair of the host committee, explained the arrangements of the meeting and thanked the sponsors. APPNA secretary Dr. Aftab Khan and the president Dr. Arshad Rehan spoke about APPNA plans for the current year and president-elect Dr. ASIF Mohiuddin spoke about plans for next year. Local host committee was thanked for its excellent organization. Plaques were awarded to Dr. Khurram Moin and Dr. Hameed Ahmad for helping with sponsorship for the meeting. Chair, Dr. Sharif Uz Zaman Khan was awarded a special plaque.
This ceremony was followed by a dinner and musical performances by Ather Sani and Komal Rizvi. Sabeen Aslam and Farheen Mohiuddin were the master of the ceremony.
Sunday morning was the last day of the meeting. Guests were served a special Halwa Puri breakfast. Food at the meeting was arranged by Sabri Nehari – who was specially invited from Chicago for this purpose. Participants while leaving appreciated the arrangements of the multi-day meeting and compared it with the grand Summer Meeting – that is biggest annual event organized by APPNA.
Where APPNA is coming from?
The Association of Physicians of Pakistani descent of North America (APPNA) was formally incorporated in 1977 with the objective of providing a networking platform to all Pakistani origin physicians in North America. APPNA has steadily grown and today represents approximately 20,000 practicing physicians and innumerable health workers of Pakistani descent. Not everyone is an active paying member but it serves as an umbrella organization for a network of over 50 component societies: Alumni, State and Regional chapter associations, and Specialty organizations. The organization fosters scientific development, education, and improved delivery in the fields of medicine and healthcare.
Moreover, APPNA provides a forum for overseas Pakistanis to make contributions back home by placing emphasis on charity work, in particular, medical relief and volunteer opportunities in Pakistan. This was again seen recently, when Pakistan experienced unprecedented floods in July 2022. Over 33 million lost their homes and were forced to live under the sky for months. APPNA partnered with CDRS, Alkhidmat Foundation, Saylani Welfare International Trust, Khana Gher, Custom Healthcare Society and PKI to facilitate immediate relief efforts. It took initiative in supplying food packs, hot meals, blankets and medicines worth more than $250k in flood-affected areas. And it provided over $1 million for building approximately 500 homes in the disaster-stricken regions.
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