In 2017, the South Asian Public Health Association (SAPHA) released a book on the health of South Asians, “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, with co-editors, Dr. Punam Parikh of UCLA School of Medicine, and Dr. Nitasha Chaudhary Nagaraj of The George Washington University.
Hasnain believes while South Asians are one of the fastest-growing minority populations in the US, there is a disturbing lack of research dedicated to health care issues specific to this group. “For many years, South Asians 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 was former president of SAPHA. She credits the ongoing work of this group to expand the body of research available about South Asian healthcare issues as the inspiration for the book. She adds, “South Asians bring with them unique languages, cultures, religions and perspectives that directly impact their health-related practices. 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 comorbidities, intimate partner violence, and tobacco use in the South Asian community. The book also discusses research-based recommendations to help improve and support the health and well-being of South Asians.
“Overall, this book is a singular accomplishment. It is a credit to the fine editorship, led by a diverse team of professionals from primary care and public health. Drs Hasnain, Parikh, and Nagaraj have led an important effort to aggregate data, present the existing knowledge base, and advocate for expanding it. Perhaps most importantly, they present a credible and forceful argument for critical improvements in recognizing the importance of South Asian health indicators in the vast evidence base of US health care.” – Dr. Omar Khan, Family Medicine Book and Media Reviews