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Ebola-doctor lone India connect at Obama’s Congress address

Washington: A prominent Indian-American doctor fighting the dreaded Ebola disease in West Africa was the lone representative of the community to be present in US First Lady Michelle Obama’s box in the Congress during the State of the Union Address.

Dr Pranav Shetty from the International Medical Corps was the only Indian-American to be invited by the First Lady to her box in the US Congress when President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union Address.

As Obama spoke about fighting Ebola, camera’s panned towards Shetty, sitting in the box.

Obama, talking about the deadly virus that has claimed thousands of lives, said, “In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola — saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease. I couldn’t be prouder of them, and I thank this Congress for your bipartisan support of their efforts.”

“But the job is not yet done — and the world needs to use this lesson to build a more effective global effort to prevent the spread of future pandemics, invest in smart development, and eradicate extreme poverty,” he said.

The invitation to Shetty came days ahead of Obama’s visit to India to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day Parade, a first for a US President. Shetty is the Global Emergency Health Coordinator for International Medical Corps, a critical partner in the US-supported effort to bring the Ebola epidemic under control.

In August 2014, Shetty deployed to Liberia to establish and oversee two Ebola treatment units, teams of rapid responders that deploy to Ebola hot spots across the country, and a training center for local and international health care workers now working on the frontlines of the Ebola response effort.

He is based in Washington, DC, and serves as the initial health technical lead for International Medical Corps’ major emergency response operations worldwide.

In all nearly two dozen people from different walks of life were invited to the First Lady’s box. Prominent among them include USIAD Contractor Alan Gross and his wife Judy. Alan Gross was recently released by Cuba. Others include astronaut Scott Kelly.

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