Iqbal “Ike” Ahmed

Iqbal “Ike” Ahmed, a faculty member at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, was instrumental in attracting the 2018 annual meeting of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) to the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort in Waikīkī, March 15–18, 2018.

The gathering is expected to draw about 1,000 geriatric mental health professionals and their families to Oʻahu, resulting in an estimated $3.3 million impact on the local economy, according to Deborah Zimmerman of the Hawaiʻi Convention Center.

Ahmed, the AAGP national president and a longtime local psychiatrist, worked with the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, Hawaiʻi Convention Center and the Hilton to steer the meeting to Honolulu.

AAGP promotes quality mental health care for the country’s population, which is rapidly growing. The number of older Americans with mental illness is expected to double by 2030. Elders from minority groups make up 21 percent of the current population and will increase to about 44 percent in 2060.

Ethnic elders 85 years and over are the fastest growing segment of the American population. Ethnic minorities experience a greater burden of unmet mental health needs, due in part to patient, provider and healthcare system barriers.

“We need a framework to provide culturally informed, sensitive and competent care to our ethnic and sexual minority elders,” said Ahmed, whose award-winning research on cultural competency in geriatric psychiatry underscores the theme of the conference: Diversity and Inclusivity: Achieving Excellence in Geriatric Mental Health.

See the full story on the John A. Burns School of Medicine website.

—By Tina Shelton