SAPHA - South Asian Public Health Association - logo
SAPHA - South Asian Public Health Association - logo


Recognizing the importance of addressing the health and well-being of South Asian communities, a group of public health students and professionals formed the South Asian Public Health Association (SAPHA) in 1999. SAPHA began as an internet community through an online listserv and has grown significantly since then. Today, SAPHA links over 200 professionals and advocates, across the United States (U.S.) and throughout the world. Below is a summary of some of the organization’s milestones.

YEAR: 1998

  • South Asian Public Health Caucus (SAPHC) Formed

YEAR: 1999

  • is utilized to connect South Asian professionals
  • SAPHC holds first meeting at the American Public Health Association (APHA) in Chicago, IL

YEAR: 2000

  • SAPHC changes its name to the South Asian Public Health Association (SAPHA) and listserv is moved to
  • Mohammad Akhter, MD, Executive Director of APHA, addresses SAPHA in Baltimore, MD
  • SAPHA sponsors its first meeting, “Addressing South Asian American Health through Dialogue & Understanding – Health Awareness through Community Education and Exchange” in New York, NY
  • SAPHA co-sponsors “AIDS in India” event on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
  • A “white paper” on the health of South Asians is first conceived
  • SAPHA holds first organizational meeting at APHA in Boston, MA

YEAR: 2001

  • SAPHA listserv moves to Yahoo groups
  • SAPHA is incorporated and first Board of Directors is formed
  • SAPHA holds annual business meeting at APHA in Atlanta, GA, where SAPHA presents on “Organizing the South Asian American Community to Define & Disseminate Its Health Priorities”
  • SAPHA co-sponsors, “Responding to post-September 11 Mental Health Crisis” event in Baltimore, MD

YEAR: 2002

  • American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), National Association of South Asian Professionals (NetSAP), and SAPHA host a “Health & Wellness Symposium” in Washington, DC
  • SAPHA publishes, “A Brown Paper: The Health of South Asians in the United States” with 500 copies distributed
  • SAPHA holds its annual business meeting at APHA in Philadelphia, PA

YEAR: 2003

  • SAPHA’s 501(c)3 status is obtained
  • SAPHA receives Project Impact’s “Creating a Voice Award”
  • SAPHA provides testimony at “Collection of Data on Race and Ethnicity in Asian, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders” hearing in LA, CA
  • SAPHA writes and directs a play, “A Mother’s Rose”, examining the impact of HIV/AIDS for South Asians Against AIDS (SAAAIDS) in Washington, DC
  • SAPHA attends a special briefing sponsored by Physicians for Human Rights on their report, “The Right to Equal Treatment: An Action Plan to End Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment”, in Washington, DC
  • SAPHA provides testimony at US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Data Council Working Group on Race and Ethnicity at the HHS Office of Minority Health in Washington, DC

YEAR: 2004

  • SAPHA Philadelphia group begins a partnership through which two dozen community workshops were conducted that focused on reducing risk for cardiovascular disease among South Asians
  • SAPHA Philadelphia group co-sponsors Medicare workshop for South Asian elders and caregivers

YEAR: 2005

  • SAPHA creates fact sheets on a wide range of health issues that affect South Asians in the US

YEAR: 2006

  • SAPHA receives the National Organizational Leadership Award from the New York University School of Medicine, Center Studies of Asian American Health (CSAAH)

YEAR: 2008

  • SAPHA launches new website –

YEAR: 2010

  • SAPHA initiates partnership with SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together)
  • SAPHA recognized as “Top Public Health Resource”

YEAR: 2011

  • SAPHA develops an Emergency Preparedness & South Asians fact sheet

YEAR: 2012

  • SAPHA Board members participate in SAALT’s Advocates for Community Empowerment (ACE) Training
  • SAPHA releasses a statement condeming the Wisconsin Gurdwara gun violence
  • SAPHA signs on with SAALT to include Hindi as a language for all Medicare documents coming from the CMS
  • SAPHA releases statement on the assault of medical students in Delhi, India

YEAR: 2013

  • SAPHA members attend the SAALT Summit
  • SAPHA attends South Asian Health Research Initiative in New York, NY
  • SAPHA presents at the San Diego Conference for Service in South Asia

YEAR: 2014

  • Supports a grant proposal to implement a DPP (Diabetes Prevention Program) among South Asian communities
  • Supports the APIC’s 40th Anniversary event at APHA and invited to propose a special session for APHA 2015
  • Endorses Vivek Murthy’s nomination for Surgeon General

YEAR: 2015

  • Advocates for the US Senate to support continuation of the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (“REACH”) Program funding for 2016
  • Continues to support the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO)
  • Endorses the oversampling of Asian Americans for CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
  • Hosts Chai & Chat event at APHA in November 2015 in Chicago, IL
    • Keynote speaker: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
    • Special Guest: Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of Illinois Department of Public Health

YEAR: 2016

  • Solidifies partnerships with federal agencies such as the CDC to provide information on pre-travel vaccines for individuals traveling abroad

YEAR: 2017

  • Publishes book titled, “The Health of South Asians in the US – An Evidence based Guide for Policy and Program Development”, with 15 chapters and contributions from 75 authors
  • Advocates for research and disaggregated data on cardiovascular health among South Asian Americans (SAAs) by endorsing the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act (H.R.3592) introduced in the US Congress by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Congressman Joe Wilson.
  • Signs statements responding to the hate rallies in Charlottesville, VA
  • Hosts Annual Chai & Chat event at APHA 2017 in Atlanta, GA and delivers multiple local organizations with community service awards

YEAR: 2018

  • Hosts Annual Chai & Chat event at APHA 2018 in San Diego, CA
    • Keynote speaker: Dr. Umair Shah, MD, MPH, Executive Director at Harris County Public Health and past president of SAPHA
  • Presents posters at APHA 2018 in San Diego, CA

YEAR: 2019

  • Celebrates 20th Anniversary at APHA in Philadelphia, PA
  • Launches the “Partners in South Asian Health” fundraising campaign

YEAR: 2020

  • Releases a statement on the US government’s repsonse to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Releases a COVID-19 sign-on statement with the support of 50+ organizations
  • SAPHA becomes an National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) coalition member
  • Publishes AAPI Nexus Journal Practitioner’s Essay, “Unmasking an Invisible Community: Unique Influences on and Consequences of COVID-19 among South Asians in the United States”
  • Signs on to a letter regarding the “National Infrastructure for Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 within Racial and Ethnic Minority Communities” to Secretary Alex Azar
  • Co-sponsors Equality Labs event “South Asians in Defense of Back Lives: Conversation with Zoé Samudzi.”
  • Signs on to NCAPA letter to fully include AAPI community in the scope of work for the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus
  • Conducts a social media campaign on South Asian Mental Health and resources
  • Collates South Asian LGBTQIA+ organization resource list
  • Leads a week long social media campaign on South Asian Comorbidities and its impact on South Asian health in regard to COVID-19
  • Presents research abstract and presentation recording at APHA 2020 on “Violence and Discrimination Against South Asians in the United States”
  • Hosts Annual Chai & Chat event, “Preventing Intimate Partner Violence within South Asian Communities”
  • Signs on to The End Police Violence Collective’s letter, “Advancing Public Health Interventions to Address the Harms of the Carceral System”
  • Signs on to Health Equity’s letter to the American Medical Assication to “highlight the misuse of race in treatment and diagnostic algorithms that leads to detrimental patient outcomes in medical practice and therefore, requires immediate attention”

YEAR: 2021

  • Awarded NCAPA /TIDES grant to support COVID-19 community outreach
  • “Mental Health Challenges and Interventions Among South Asian Youth” webinar – September 2021
  • “Imagining Health Equity as South Asians” 4-part cohort-based workshop series – October 2021
  • SAPHA conducted a social media campaign on South Asian Mental Health
  • SAPHA conducted a social media campaign on National Diabetes Awareness month

YEAR: 2022

  • Published “Health Implications of Racialized State Violence Against South Asians in the US” in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
  • Hosted panel discussion “Cardiovascular disease: Challenges and Interventions Among South Asians in the US” moderated by Dr. Arnab Mukherjea, featuring the following speakers: Dr. Alka Kanaya; Dr. Islam Chaudhry; and Ms. Subia Javed
  • Launched SAPHA Monthly Newsletters, featuring events, research and news highlights, research spotlights, reading recommendations and more
  • Increased social media presence with research highlights, AANPHI month, statements, international day of yoga and more
  • Invited to moderate the Healthcare Access & Equity Panel at the Indian American Impact 2022 Summit, featuring the following speakers: Dr. Meena Seshamani; Mr. Kishan Putta; and Dr. Kavita Patel
  • Increased collaboration with community based organizations through the COVID-19 grant received from NCAPA/Tides Foundation
  • Provided an organizational endorsement and letter of support for the heart health bill
  • Named the beneficiary of the Dallas South Asian Bar Association Annual Charity Gala
  • Conducted a recorded interview on Long COVID with Dr. Sabiha Hussain
  • SAPHA President invited to the White House for the White House 2022 Diwali Celebration
  • Hosted an in-person Chai & Chat networking event at the American Public Health Association (APHA) conference in Boston, MA
  • Presented preliminary findings from the COVID-19 grant at the Chai and Chat networking event
  • Abstract selected for oral presentation at APHA - “Social Determinants of Mental Health Among Older South Asians: A Scoping Review”
  • Compiled South Asian Health at APHA 2022 Compendium
  • Rebranded our logo - redesigned website and redesigned newsletter
  • Accepted to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Pursuing Equity Learning Network

Year: 2023

  • Launched our new website -
  • Launched an instagram account - @saphainfo
  • Joined HEAA Community Working Group: Title VI: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
  • SAPHA members were invited panelists for the University of Maryland Healthcare Panel “Striving for Healthcare Equity For South Asians”
  • National Public Health Week social media campaign
  • SAPHA becomes a Coalition for Asian American Children + Families (CACF) coalition member 
  • SAPHA becomes a National AANHPI Mental Health Day Community Partner with NAAPIMHA alongside 60 organizations 
  • Invited panelist for Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) Legislative Leadership Summit panel - “Breaking the Stigma: Addressing Mental Health in Our Community” 
  • Invited to the White House Screening of “American Born Chinese” for AANHPI Heritage Month 
  • Invited to AA and NHPI Roundtable with Secretary Xavier Becerra alongside 10 other AANHPI organizations 
  • AANHPI Heritage Month social media campaign highlighting student researchers
  • Invited to moderate the “South Asian Health Agenda” breakout panel at the Indian American Impact 2023 Summit, featuring the following speakers: Dr. Meena Seshamani; Dr. Sejal Hathi; Dr. Alka Kanaya; and Dr. Ashwin Vasan
  • Invitation to the White House Initiative AA & NHPI Mental Health Summit 
  • Accepted to the Climate Health Organizing Fellows Program
  • Created SAPHA Land Acknowledgement and added to website 
  • Launching of SAPHA's Committee Members
  • Abstract accepted for poster presentation at APHA 2023 - “Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 Community Outreach in the South Asian Community"
  • SAPHA Annual Chai and Chat event at APHA 2023
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