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

Mission & History

Our Vision

SAPHA envisions better health and well-being of South Asians and the communities in which they live.

Our Mission

The mission of SAPHA is to promote the health and well-being of South Asian communities in the United States through advocacy, collaboration, and communication.

Our Goals

  • Advocate for the health priorities of the South Asian community.
  • Foster partnerships and collaborations with professional, community organizations, and stakeholders addressing South Asian health issues.
  • Communicate relevant and current knowledge and gaps about South Asian health.

History and Approach

Established in 1999, SAPHA is the premier organization dedicated to addressing public health issues impacting South Asians in the United States. Ten dedicated individuals established SAPHA in an effort to raise awareness about public health issues of South Asians at a national level. In 2001, SAPHA was formalized with the formation of a Board of Directors and attained a 501(c)3 non-profit status. Since then, SAPHA has received national recognition for its efforts to raise the health profile of South Asians in the United States. Read more about our achievements through the years.

SAPHA remains committed to working in partnership with others to ensure our community’s public health needs are addressed. In 2010, SAPHA joined the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), a network of organizations that believe in common principles related to social change and advocate for South Asians living in the United States. In 2020, SAPHA joined the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, which is a coalition of 38 national Asian Pacific American organizations around the country, which serves to represent the interests of the greater Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for AA and NHPI issues. Joining NCSO and NCAPA allowed SAPHA to partner with those serving the broader needs of South Asians and the AANHPI community in the U.S. as these needs often have direct or indirect impacts on health and well-being.


SAPHA welcomes all persons - regardless of their backgrounds - committed to issues of South Asian public health to join SAPHA. We invite you to review our accomplishments and work with us as we continue in our efforts. While much has been accomplished, much work remains. We welcome you and invite you to help us meet our common goal of improving the health of South Asians and the communities in which they live!

South Asian Community in the United States

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 United States is diverse. The earliest South Asian immigrants came to the United States 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).

Given the size of South Asian populations in the United States, 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.

Land and Labor Acknowledgement

What is a land and labor acknowledgement?
A land and labor acknowledgement is a statement commonly read or written by educational institutions and organizations at the beginning of an event or presentation. The purpose of this statement is to acknowledge “the economic progress and development in a geographic area or industry resulted from the unpaid labor and forced servitude of People of Color - specifically enslaved African labor” and “to recognize and respect Indigenous Peoples as the original stewards of the land on which we now live and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their territories.”

Why should SAPHA have such an acknowledgement?
SAPHA should have such an acknowledgement in order to show our commitment to dismantling the ongoing legacies of colonialism and other systems of oppression. These systems of oppression have negative impacts on the well-being and health of all minoritized folks in the U.S., including South Asians. The purpose of this acknowledgement is to also show SAPHA’s support of Indigenous communities as well as inspire others to do the same. 

Why is this verbiage appropriate for SAPHA?
The verbiage in the acknowledgement draft below is appropriate for SAPHA as it emphasizes the “health and well-being” of all groups that are minoritized and the need to reduce health disparities within the U.S., which is a vital part of SAPHA’s mission. The statement also echoes important values to SAPHA such as inclusivity, equity, and community.

What are themes or examples of other acknowledgements by like-minded organizations?
Land and Labor Acknowledgement Examples

Recurring Themes

  • Recognizing the specific Indigenous territories in which the institution is located on
  • Stating how the institution/organization will support Indigenous communities and those of African descent moving forward
  • Honesty and transparency throughout the statement by using words such as “forced labor,” “stolen” and “genocide” 

The Current Draft
We, at SAPHA, acknowledge the undervalued and underappreciated forced labor by those of African descent that built the land we stand on today. Additionally, we recognize that the land we stand on today has been stolen underneath the feet of Indigenous communities. We honor the perseverance and strength of Indigenous people, past present and future, and those of African descent. 
SAPHA makes a commitment to help dismantle the ongoing legacies of colonialism as well as other systems of oppression within our society. Unfortunately, these systems of oppression negatively impact the health and well-being of all systemically minoritized communities in the U.S. This land and labor acknowledgement serves as the beginning of this commitment and we encourage you to visit to identify the lands you are on and to learn more about reparations, voluntary land tax/rent, and how you can help support Indigenous communities and uplift their voices. 

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