VANCOUVER, June 20-23, 2014 – Senator Asha Seth was special guest of honour and keynote speaker at the Canada-India Networking Initiative (CINI) 2014. The conference was hosted by the Canada-India Networking Society (CINS) and was formed under the theme “Health and Civil Society” –building links between Canada and India through knowledge, wisdom sharing, and action for transformation.

CINI 2014’s intentions were focused on making specific recommendations for health transformation that will build a sustainable health care service. CINI 2014 was premised on four sessions: Training of Nursing and Allied Health; Emerging Technology and its Relationship with Health and Economy; Extensive and Sustainable Transformation of Primary Care Delivery in British Columbia; and The Role and Modernization of Yoga within Health Care. In addition, there was a strong emphasis on civil society organizations (CSO) as crucial partners in our communities and at the global level. More specifically, the way CSOs proactively facilitate design, implementation, and monitoring of national and international health strategies.

Senator Seth addressed attendees on the second day of the four day conference, vocalizing the important role that civil society plays in enriching the health sector while building associations between Canada and India. She linked this topic with her knowledge as a physician of 38 years and a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

She remarked, “Our government understands that there is great potential for improving public health through systematic collaboration between governments and civil society. In emerging economies like India, and even in authoritarian states, health professionals and scientists form the very basis of civil society. Ensuring that Canada and India can be partners in health will require teamwork and collaboration to make sure that relevant civil society institutions and relevant policies are in place for mutual development.”

CINS is a non-profit organization with Dr. Arun Kumar Garg as acting Chair & President. This group was created to connect and coordinate programs, workshops, organizations and institutes interested in Canadian and Indian collaborative linkages. CINS upholds a reputation for helping to develop innovative programs and networking opportunities that support economic, cultural, and social links between these two countries.

Participants of the conference also enjoyed speeches from expertise around the world in the medical field including Dr. Gavin Stuart, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, and the Hon. Dr. Devendra K. Gupta, head of the Paediatric Surgery department at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and former Vice-Chancellor of King George Medical University; Senator Asha Seth’s Alma Mater.

Senator Seth has been an active supporter of CINS projects including the opening of the South Asian Health Institute (SAHI) within Fraser Health in 2013. The institute, formed as part of the Fraser Health Authority, provides integrated health care service to more than 1.6 million people living in the community.

A major recommendation of CINI 2010 was to make SAHI a reality and this year’s conference will now reflect on its success. Fraser Health serves a large South Asian population and thus there was need of special health services aimed at this group of people. It also promotes self-management in chronic diseases care, an area where prevalence is three to four time higher amongst the South Asian community. This program is the first of its kind and has strengthened Fraser Health’s platform.

“Here at the South Asian Health Centre and the Primary Care Program work of Fraser Health and Surrey- North Delta Division of Family Practice a lot of important work is being done in primary care and chronic disease management services. This work is crucial because as south Asians we are genetically predisposed to develop diabetes and cardiovascular diseases more easily than the rest of the population,” Senator Seth remarked on the successful rise of this institution since its opening.

Furthermore, Senator Seth spoke on Canada’s role as a global leader in Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health by showcasing our work through the United Nations and the G8 Muskoka Initiative as a model for directing international attention and resources on improving the health of mothers and children in vulnerable populations around the world. The very low rate of blood and stem cell donations in the south-Asian community, and in many minority groups, was also highlighted as a pressing concern. The argument was made that encouraging donation and establishing stem cell registries that reflect the diversity of the Canadian population is crucial to ensuring that minority groups can have ready access to these advances in medical technology.

Senator Seth finished her speech by stating, “I believe that the fulfilment of human development will require combined efforts of the government with citizens and their organization. Working with civil society organizations is key to the delivery of services to these most helpless individuals.”

For more information on CINS and CINI 2014, please visit


CINI2014 Vancouer4

Senator Asha Seth addresses attendees of CINI 2014

CINI2014 Vancouver

Senator Asha Seth presents Prime Minister’s Greetings to Dr. Arun Garg, President and CEO of CINS


Senator Asha Seth receives Appreciation award from CINS at CINI 2014


Dr. Arun Garg, President and Chair of CINS, Senator Asha Seth, CINI participant, and Dr. David Ostrow, President & CEO of Fraser Health