It is our great pleasure to welcome you to the South Asian Public Health Association (SAPHA). SAPHA was established in 1999 by a committed group of individuals interested in raising awareness of public health issues impacting the health and well-being of South Asians within the United States. Two years later, SAPHA achieved 501(c)3 status led by a diverse group of public health professionals comprising its Board of Directors.
SAPHA is the leading voice on public health issues impacting South Asians in the United States. Since its inception, SAPHA has dedicated itself to promoting health equity and well-being of our broad and diverse South Asian American communities through partnerships, research, education, communication, and advocacy. Representing the South Asian diaspora, SAPHA aims to address the unique challenges facing South Asians and advance opportunities for people to reach their utmost potential health in the communities where they live, work, and play.
With over a decade of experience in addressing public health issues impacting South Asians and their communities, SAPHA is the leading organization dedicated to serving the public health needs of South Asian communities and has emerged as a leader in the health of South Asian in the U.S. Like other organizations involved in public health, SAPHA supports the notion that a population-based approach – centered in principles of prevention, equity, social justice and leadership – is the optimal means to improving the well-being of people and the communities in which they live.
SAPHA comprises a diverse array of committed leaders involved in every facet of public health. From theory to practice, from teaching to learning, from prevention to response, SAPHA professionals have subject matter expertise in a variety of areas: chronic disease, mental health, health systems, wellness, refugee/international health, health equity, public health emergency preparedness, education, scholarship, leadership, administration/management, advocacy, and many other public health-related topics.
Who are the South Asians in the US that SAPHA is dedicated to serving? The South Asian community in the United States includes individuals who trace their ancestry to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The community also includes members of the South Asian diaspora – past generations of South Asians who originally settled in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Canada and the Middle East, and other parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands. South Asian Americans include citizens, legal permanent residents, students, H‑1B and H‑4 visa holders, DACA recipients, and undocumented immigrants. Between 2000 and 2010, the South Asian American population became the fastest growing major ethnic group in the United States with 81% growth and has emerged in new areas of the country. For example, South Asians comprised the fastest growing Asian American ethnic group in the U.S. between 1990 and 2000 alone. In 2012, it was estimated that over 3.4 million South Asians were living in the United States (U.S. Census Data, 2012). Given the size of the South Asian population in America, SAPHA strongly believes improving the health of South Asian communities is critically important in furthering the overall health of our nation.
The South Asian community in the US is diverse. The earliest South Asian immigrants came to the US as farm laborers and migrant workers in the 1920s, followed by professionals pursuing educational and occupational opportunities in the 1960s. More recent immigrants have come as a result of family reunification policies and as computer professionals. South Asians represent many religions (e.g., Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism), and speak a variety of languages (such as Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, and Urdu). SAPHA invites you to learn more about the incredible diversity of South Asians and our respective cultures – our communities are vibrant and rich, full of energy and busy with activity. Truly, South Asians are a reflection of the diverse fabric of modern-day America!
Given the size of South Asian populations in the US, SAPHA strongly believes improving the health of South Asian communities is critically important to furthering the overall health of our nation. Yet, serving South Asian communities means that one must understand the challenges and assets of culture, language, limited English proficiency, religion, beliefs, and customs. The need for South Asian-specific policy-making, culturally appropriate programs, and education/outreach remain critical areas for success. SAPHA remains committed to working in partnership with others to ensure the South Asian community’s public health needs are addressed.
Moving forward, SAPHA’s primary goal is to: Connect people, ideas, and resources to advance the health of South Asian Americans. SAPHA has a long tradition of distinguished work in the field of South Asian public health. Among our accomplishments are:
We invite you to review these accomplishments and work with us as we continue in our efforts. While much has been accomplished, significant amount of work remains. We invite you to join us in meeting our common goal of improving the health of South Asian communities.