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

Newsletter - Fall 2018

South Asian Public Health Association
SAPHA Quarterly Newsletter

FALL 2018

In This Issue

SAPHA is the premier South Asian-related public health organization in America, in existence since 1999. SAPHA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of South Asians and the communities in which they live in America.
Join Our Mailing List

Become a SAPHA Member! 

We invite you to join us! You can start by becoming an active part of our free listserv, joining and asking your colleagues to join SAPHA as a member, and volunteering to help one of SAPHA's committees. 

Being part of SAPHA is an opportunity to network with other professionals invested in the health of South Asians in the United States and to promote the health of South Asian communities. Be sure to visit our membership page at to get more information on how to become a member of this exciting organization.

Join a SAPHA Committee!
Business Meeting
SAPHA is currently seeking dedicated professionals to join one of SAPHA's Committees:


1. Communications

2. Fundraising

3. Membership

4. Partnerships

5. Research

SAPHA Committees meet regularly via conference call to discuss how to advance the mission and goals of SAPHA and to better serve the South Asian community. For more information visit SAPHA'S committee's page!

SAPHA 2018 Board Members
Kaur Sabherwal

Communications Co-Chair

Priya Thaker
Communications Co-Chair
Swathi Raman
Communications Intern
Shipra Singh
Research Co-Chair
Saman Aziz
Research Co-Chair
Trushna Rao
Fundraising Chair
Shibani Ray Mazumder
Partnerships Chair
 Yousra Yusuf

Vice President

Memoona Hasnain
Newsletter prepared by
Shipra Singh 
SAPHA New Logo
Dear SAPHA members,
Welcome to the SAPHA Fall 2018 newsletter! We thank you for your continuing support of our mission and the issues surrounding our communities. Please do continue to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, share our posts, and please do let us know how we're doing! Your feedback is vital to our success.
2018, thus far, has been quite a productive year for SAPHA. First and foremost, we would like to welcome our new president and four new board members to the SAPHA team. We look forward to all the new endeavors that SAPHA will undertake with the assistance of their leadership.
In 2017, we published our book, The Health of South Asians in the United States: An Evidence-based Guide for Policy and Program Development edited by Memoona Hasnain M, Nitasha Chaudhary Nagaraj, and Punam Parikh. The book is available for purchase online. More information about the book can be found in this newsletter.
We also are eagerly coordinating this year's SAPHA Chai & Chat discourse as part of the American Public Health Association's (APHA) annual conference in San Diego, CA. Last year's event was a success, and we look forward to continuing this tradition.
For our organization spotlight, SAPHA is excited to feature MannMukti, a non-profit organization started by millennial South Asian Americans that seeks to decrease the stigma of mental health within the South Asian community. 
As always, we welcome your interest and would love for you to become a part of the SAPHA team to further our goal of improving the health of South Asian communities in the U.S. We are currently looking for volunteers for our various committees.
Please contact SAPHA at
if you have any questions or want to learn more about how to get involved!
Our success is contingent on having strong and involved members, and we encourage you to invite your friends and colleagues who are interested in South Asian health issues to become SAPHA members at!
With warm wishes,
The SAPHA Board 2018-2019

Message from the President
Dear Colleagues,                                           
Greetings! I am deeply honored to be elected as your President and to have the opportunity to work alongside our continuing and newly-elected Board members of the South Asian Public Health Association (SAPHA). I would like to thank our immediate past President, Nazeera Dawood and Board members: Vaibhav Jain, Shipra Singh, Yousra Yusuf, Phani Veeranki, Shibani Ray-Mazumder, Syed Shahrukh Hashmi, Simran Kaur and Sana Hashim for their dedication and leadership. I want to acknowledge and thank our committed interns for the wonderful support they provide. Last but not least, I'd like to extend a very warm welcome to our new board members: Saman Aziz, Samira Khan, Trushna Rao and Priya Thaker.
Over the years, SAPHA has made significant contributions to education and awareness, advocacy, partnership building, as well as research and scholarship to advance the health of South Asians in USA. Yet, there is much that remains to be done! On behalf of the Board, I strongly encourage you to continue to participate and share your ideas with us, and to invite your colleagues to join us. As a SAPHA member, you will have voting rights and eligibility to run for the SAPHA Board of Directors; be eligible to be part of a SAPHA committee and have access to exclusive member-only portions of the website.
SAPHA's long term success depends on each one of you; your active engagement, energy and contributions make us who we are. Let us continue to build on the important work we have done in the past and break new ground. By collaborating and working together, we can strengthen our collective efforts and continue advancing the critically important current and emerging foci in enhancing the health and well-being of South Asian individuals, as well as the communities in which they live and work.
Thank you for placing your trust in my leadership. I draw inspiration  from Margaret Mead's wise words: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
I wish you and your families the very best in health, happiness, peace, meaning and success.
Memoona Hasnain, MD, MHPE, PhD
President, SAPHA
Professor and Interim Head,
Department of Family Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago

New Board Members 2018
We'd like to take this time to introduce our new board members in 2018 - Dr. Saman Aziz, Samira Khan, Dr. Trushna Rao, and Priya Thaker. All of them have championed public health throughout their careers and we are so excited to see where their leadership will take SAPHA in the upcoming year.
Dr. Saman Aziz
Dr. Aziz received her medical degree from Dow Medical College Karachi, Pakistan and Master of Health Professions Education (MHPE) and Master of Public Health (MPH) from the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a medical professional interested in the unique yet intertwined areas of education, research and public health, Dr. Aziz strives to find ways of better equipping herself to merge these three areas and translate them into providing excellent care for patients. The breadth of her expertise covers a wide area of clinical research. She has served as a Research Specialist for 14 years at the University of Illinois at Chicago, (UIC) Department of Medical Education for the assessment of the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) core curriculum. She has been involved in coordinating study design, protocol preparation, clinical study reports and publications on rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and HPV vaccine awareness studies. She is highly motivated to solve the health care dilemmas of minority population within the South Asian community. Dr. Aziz looks forward to working with SAPHA in her quest to approach problems from a systems perspective.
Samira Khan
Samira received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from CUNY - The City College of New York in 2013, and a Master of Public Health from Hofstra University in 2016. In her final semester at Hofstra, she received her Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) certification. She is currently working as a Research Program Coordinator at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Samira works primarily in research that examines the relationship between sleep disordered breathing, specifically obstructive sleep apnea, and cardiovascular outcomes. She previously worked as a research assistant at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, working on research that primarily focused on examining the effects of aerobic exercise on cognition in individuals with schizophrenia. Her public health research interests include examining and reducing health disparities in immigrant populations, focusing primarily on South Asian and Muslim communities. Samira's other current activities include working as a weekend school teacher at the Islamic Center of Long Island, training medical scribes at the Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island, and serving as Secretary for the Hofstra Public Health Alumni Association. Samira's future goals include pursuing medical school and expanding on the research she conducted for her Master's Thesis, which examined the relationship between provider communication and patient understanding, and how it influences health behaviors in a Muslim population. This thesis was also selected for roundtable discussion at the APHA Conference in November 2017. She looks forward to serving on the Board of Directors for SAPHA. 

Dr. Trushna Rao

Dr. Rao completed her initial schooling in Vidya Kunj School, Vadodara, India and Copthall Girls' Gram
mar School, in London, UK. Her undergraduate Medical Degree was conferred by the M. S. University, Vadodara, India. This was followed by post-graduation in ENT at M. S. University, Vadodara, India. Trushna received her MBA, specializing in Technology and Healthcare Management, from the Mike Cottrell College of Business at the University of North Georgia. She also received Healthcare Certification from Brenau University. She has a Diploma in Teaching Healthcare Professionals from Queen's University, Belfast, Ireland. Having achieved success as an ENT Surgeon, she now focuses on community service. She has global experience with disadvantaged communities, with 35 years of practice as an ENT specialist in India, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Her accomplishments include setting up various time and cost saving initiatives in her department in Ireland, mentoring medical and nursing students and being on the medical examiners' panel of Ireland. To assimilate the sidelined illiterate groups in Toccoa into their local community, she spearheaded the first representation for the Center at the Annual Sheriff's Christmas Parade and Festival of Trees Competition. Trushna is a family-centered person, and takes humble pride in supporting her ENT-practicing husband, her 3 self-confident, community-oriented children, and her numerous pets. She is a caring, fun-loving individual who enjoys yoga and hiking with local groups. She is also the medical lead committee member for the International Day of Yoga celebration held annually by the Indian Consulate in Atlanta.
Priya Thaker

Priya received both her undergraduate degree in molecular, cell and developmental biology and her master's degree in public health with a concentration in community health sciences from UCLA. A Senior Analyst at the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), Priya manages the production, quality, and timely delivery of data to drive hospital, government, and community-level policymaking and planning. She also belongs to a UCLA team advising the DHHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation on the collection of race/ethnicity information across federal surveys and the measurement implications on underrepresented populations. 
Having worked with IT teams to support online dissemination of CHIS data, Priya is interested in coordinating efforts to strengthen SAPHA's online presence and eager to increase data capacity for SAPHA to supplement existing and facilitate new data projects that explore the health needs of South Asians.

SAPHA Book Publication
In March 2017, SAPHA released
The Health of South Asians in the United States: An Evidence based Guide for Policy and Program Development, published by Routledge, a division of Taylor & Francis.
Dr. Memoona Hasnain, Professor and Interim Head in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is the lead editor of the book, with co-editors Punam Parikh of UCLA School of Medicine and Dr. Nitasha Chaudhary Nagaraj of The George Washington University. Dr. Hasnain says that while South Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing minority populations in the U.S., there is a disturbing lack of research dedicated to health care issues specific to this group. "For many years, South Asian Americans were considered a 'model minority'; this erroneous perception that people from South Asian countries always achieve social and economic success has created a gap in our understanding of the significant health disparities experienced by this group." Hasnain serves as the president of SAPHA and previously served as the Chair of SAPHA's Research Committee. She credits the ongoing work of this group to expand the body of research available about South Asian American health care issues as the inspiration for the new book.
The Health of South Asians in the United States: An Evidence-based Guide for Policy and Program Development defines South  Asian Americans as people living in the U.S. with ancestral roots in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. "South Asian Americans bring with them unique languages, cultures, religions and perspectives that directly impact their health related practices," Hasnain said. "Unless we take the time to understand patients as whole people, it will always be a challenge to provide patient-centered and culturally-competent care, specifically in this increasingly understudied and vulnerable population." Of the major health disparities discussed in the book, Hasnain and her colleagues call attention to the significantly high rates of chronic conditions and co-morbidities, intimate partner violence and tobacco use in the South Asian American community. The book outlines these and other health disparities and discusses research-based recommendations to help improve and support the health and well-being of South Asian Americans.
"This book builds on our continuum of education, awareness, scholarship, advocacy and action to address the health needs of minority and vulnerable populations at the patient, provider and systems levels," Hasnain said. "We hope the information in this book will be widely used and applied for best practices, teaching and would spark for future research. We also hope this work will advance our understanding about interdisciplinary approaches to enhancing health and well-being of South Asian Americans and continue our efforts to reduce health disparities for minority populations."
The book was recently reviewed in Family Medicine, the official journal of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, which publishes research and content relevant to the discipline of family medicine, particularly focusing on primary care medical education, health workforce policy, and health services research. Read the review here. The book is available both on and

SAPHA Partnerships Campaign

Do you, or anyone you know, work at a local or national non-profit, medical, or public health organization dedicated to advocating for the needs of South Asian Americans? SAPHA is currently broadening its scope to engage with more South Asian professionals, and those dedicated to issues concerning South Asian Americans, with an overarching aim to improve the health and well-being of our communities.
SAPHA is striving to forge new connections and build new relationships with similarly-minded organizations. Through the partnerships we create, we hope that we will be able to work together to promote the health and well-being of the community. We hope that these partnerships will provide a mutually beneficial working relationship to share resources, communicate healthy lifestyle education, promote materials, and collaborate on future research initiatives.
If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about what partnering with SAPHA entails, please feel free to contact us at today.

Organization Spotlight: MannMukti
MannMukti is an organization whose mission is to encourage healthy, open dialogue of mental health issues in an effort to remove stigma, improve awareness and promote self-care. There is a harmful stigma associated with acknowledgement of mental health in the South Asian culture, and this needs to change. MannMukti hopes to be a one-stop resource for South Asians to learn about and address mental health concerns with each other. The organization has helped host movie screenings, panel discussions, workshops, and more. One of their most well-known campaigns is Humans of MannMukti - in which individuals share their stories and perspectives regarding mental health, in an open and empowering fashion. You can find Humans of MannMukti posts online and on MannMukti's social media pages.
"We're an incredibly young organization - our website launched in May 2017 - but the reception we've received from people has been so encouraging. We're looking forward to making a large impact on South Asian public health by being the go-to platform for our community to share stories and increase their awareness of mental health. As the new year approaches, I hope more and more people decide to join the conversation at mannmukti,org and Speak Up!" -
Abhijith Ravinutala, Founder and CEO, MannMukti
MannMukti wants to expand their message and mission to more and more people around the world - with the hopes that they will #SpeakUp about mental health if comfortable, and help to remove the stigma surrounding this very sensitive and important issue. If you're interested in getting involved or learning more about MannMukti, please do check out their Facebook page, follow them on Instagram, or visit their website,!

APHA Chai & Chat 2018
We're greatly looking forward to hosting our Annual Chai and Chat event during
the American Public Health Association's (APHA) 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo this fall in sunny San Diego, and hope you can all attend! This year's event will be held on Sunday, November 11th 2018 from 6:30-8:30PM.
Please RSVP at your earliest convenience
through this link!

SAPHA Membership Campaign

We at SAPHA are always accepting new members and look forward to your engagement!

SAPHA depends on its members and their donations to continue to do its work. Your donation goes back to SAPHA's efforts to support the South Asian American community in the United States. This is done through SAPHA's work with fellow partner organizations, its research, programming, and advocacy, and its sustained connections and collaborations with important stakeholders in American medicine and public health.

Please consider starting or renewing your membership today. For those of you who are already members, please consider sharing the news of our discounted membership with your friends, colleagues, and extended networks, whether through school or work.

We thank you in advance for your help.

Join a SAPHA Committee
Our committees meet via conference call at least once a month to discuss how to help promote the work of SAPHA and advocate for our members. By participating in a committee, you can gain invaluable experience working with experts in the field that could advance your professional goals!

Please note that you must be a SAPHA member (paid annual membership dues) to be eligible to participate on a Committee and vote. For more information, please email the Chair of the Committee you would like to join. Each Committee Chair's contact information is available on our website.

SAPHA's success depends on the commitment and hard work of its committees and look forward to your participation!

Facebook LogoStay updated with SAPHA's latest news, events and happenings by liking our Facebook Page

Connect with other colleagues in the field by posting questions or comments on the wall.
And don't forget to follow SAPHA on Twitter: @saphainfo.

Public Health Conferences 2018
2018 City MatCH Leadership and MCH Epidemiology Conference
September 12-14 2018, in Portland, OR
Ninth Biennial AA & NHPI Health Conference
September 24, 2018 in New York City, NY
Annual National Affordability Summit
October 03-04 2018, in Washington, DC
2018 Public Health Law Conference
October 04-06, 2018 in Phoenix, AZ
National Conference on Correctional Health Care
October 20-24, 2018 in Las Vegas, NV
APHA Annual Meeting and Expo
November 10-14, 2018, in San Diego, CA
2018 Conference on Health, Environment, and Energy
December 03-05, 2018 in New Orleans, LA
American Geophysical Union 2018 Fall Meeting
December 10-14, 2018 in Washington, DC
The events listed in this section are for informational purposes only. 
SAPHA does not necessarily endorse the organizations or events listed.  
Email SAPHA if you would like information about an event or research posted here!
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