South Asian Public Health Association SAPHA Quarterly Newsletter

Fall 2014

In This Issue
Intern Wanted!
Spotlight on SABCA
Spotlight on AshaUSA
SAPHA Happenings
Quick Links
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.
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Become a SAPHA Member! 

We invite you to join us in our work! 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: 




Membership/ Nominations

Partnerships/Local Groups



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 2014 Board Members

Neelum Aggarwal
(Communications Chair)
Aparna Badkas
Nazeera Dawood
(Local Chapters/ Partnerships
Bindu Garapaty (Secretary)
Memoona Hasnain (Research Chair)
Dhara Thakar Meghani 
(Membership Chair)

Punam Parikh Modha 
(Vice President)
   Yasin Patel
Ami Shah

Newsletter prepared by Melanie Wathugala


SAPHA New Logo
Dear SAPHA Friends,

We are excited to kick off the fall with new energy and enthusiasm!  This summer has been exciting and we are revving up for a groundbreaking 2015. 


Important progress was made in the last quarter by our Local Partnerships Committee, under the leadership of Board Member and Committee Chair Nazeera Dawood.  She has built an advisory board of six community groups to forge partnerships and serve as an innovative nexus for South Asian organizations.  SAPHA's Local Partnerships Committee will ensure strong and successful collaborations with similar organizations and South Asian communities across the nation in order to share lessons learned and resources across communities, cities, and the nation.  To learn more about the program, e-mail Nazeera.


SAPHA is also partnering with the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus (APIC) of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and supporting its 40th anniversary celebration on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at the annual APHA meeting in New Orleans.  For details on APIC, click here.  APIC is looking for Student Representatives to fill their Executive Committee and we highly encourage SAPHA student members to run for office!  Also, look out for SAPHA's compendium of South Asian health related abstracts that will be presented at this year's APHA meeting. 


We are also excited about all of the applicants interested in joining the SAPHA Board and encourage all of you to join SAPHA's election process in the weeks to come.  Join as a SAPHA paid member if you are not already one so that you can vote and be a part of shaping our future.


SAPHA hosted its annual Board Retreat in late August at the Indian Community Center in Milpitas, CA.  It's an exciting venue serving the broader community as a health clinic and childcare facility and hosts a senior care program, several workout initiatives, Bollywood dancing and much more.  We feel privileged to have hosted our retreat there thanks to the relationships our Board Secretary, Bindu Garapaty, has forged.  The Board set out an exciting new agenda for 2015 and will share updates in the new quarter. Stay tuned!


If you are passionate about South Asian Public Health issues or just want to learn more about what we are doing -- JOIN US by volunteering!


We have several opportunities for leadership within our committees and are always looking for talent and enthusiasm. 


We look forward to working together in promoting health among South Asians in the U.S.



SAPHA Board 2014


Intern Wanted!

Please click here to see the requirements to be an Intern for the Local Partnerships Committee! 
Spotlight on SABCA
South Asian Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation (SABCA) is a new organization founded by Nitin V. Icchpunani.  He started this program because a couple of years ago he discovered that several women he knew were treated for breast cancer and that they were very "secretive" about their condition.  It was then he realized that the South Asian culture generally does not discuss and reach out for support for such diseases.

SABCA's mission is to create awareness about Breast Cancer in South Asian and other communities and encourage women to get an annual mammogram.  If SABCA's efforts can save even one life or give someone extra time to enjoy all that life has to offer, they will consider themselves a success.

SABCA Foundation launched the ThinkPink365 campaign for continuous support of the cause throughout the year.  Also they have created a brochure to educate people about Breast Cancer.  This brochure will eventually be in various languages. They worked hard to make sure the brochure is respectful to the culture and the cause while educating the community.  They plan to partner with various organizations throughout the US to 
begin hosting annual fundraisers that can help underserved women get mammograms for free.  Also, they want to launch an annual Breast Cancer calendar with stories of women/men who faced this disease head on. 

SABCA is looking for leaders, volunteers, and ambassadors to create awareness about Breast Cancer wherever they are. Contact Nitin at to find out how to help.

Spotlight on AshaUSA:

AshaUSA a non-profit organization focused on fostering health and harmony in the South Asian community in Minnesota.


AshaUSA was formed in July 2014 with a mission is to "Provide culturally specific programs  to the South Asian community to foster health  and harmony in their lives."


Ms. Kamala Puram, MBA is the founder and Executive Director of AshaUSA.  Kamala is passionate about engaging the community to increase the awareness of health issues and develop programs to help them stay healthy through diet, exercise, and preventative care.  There are over 44,000 South Asians living in Minnesota and 75% of them are first generation immigrants.


In her previous role as the Executive Director of SEWA-AIFW, Kamala partnered with the University of Minnesota to conduct Project SAHAT, a health needs assessment survey for the South Asian community in Minnesota.  The survey identified diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol as the biggest health issues in the community.  The three areas of concern the study results pointed out were:

a) Onset of these diseases at an earlier age,

b) Health status of the new arrivals from South Asian countries

c) Under utilization of preventative care


Eighteen percent of the participants surveyed indicated that they were not receiving culturally specific services.  Kamala has developed tips for the medical professionals while working with South Asian families and routinely makes presentations to health care providers on South Asian culture.


Anyone who is interested in this research or implementing similar programs please send an email via their contact page. 

SAPHA Happenings
  • Findings from New Study on Breast Cancer Screening in First-Generation Muslim Women in Chicago

    Memoona Hasnain (University of Illinois at Chicago), who also is a SAPHA Board member and Research Committee Chair, and her colleagues recently published an article in the Journal of Women's Health with results from a study exploring beliefs about breast cancer, screening practices, and factors associated with mammography use among first-generation immigrant South Asian and Middle Eastern Muslim women.  The authors adapted and administered a survey in Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, and English to 207 South Asian and Arab women in Chicago, IL.  They found that although 70% of the women reported having had a mammogram at least once, only 52% had had one within the past 2 years.  Total years in the US, self-efficacy, perceived importance of mammography, and intent to be screened were all predictors of a woman ever getting a mammogram. In fact, total years in the US, having a primary care provider, perceived importance of mammography, barriers, and intent to be screened were all predictors of whether a woman had a mammogram in the past 2 years.  The results provide important and novel information about factors associated with Muslim women's participation in mammography screening.  The authors conclude that "findings of this study are intended to encourage future research to develop and test culturally appropriate, patient-centered strategies for promoting timely and regular breast cancer screening and therapeutic services for immigrant Muslim women, as well as for other minority immigrant women in the United States."  UIC Science posted a blog highlighting this work and the study findings.

  •  An Academic-Public Health Department Partnership for Education, Research, Practice, and Governance

    SAPHA Board member and Local Partnerships Chair, Nazeera Dawood, and her colleagues have published about partnerships in healthcare in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.  Partnerships between medical schools and public health departments have been historically uncommon, yet collaboration between the two entities has great potential to serve the community.  Academic-health department partnerships can take 4 forms: partnerships in education and training; partnerships in research; partnerships in public health practice; and partnerships in governance.  In Atlanta, Georgia, the Morehouse School of Medicine (particularly its Prevention Research Center or PRC) and the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness (FCDHW, particularly the Health Promotion Division) have demonstrated partnership in each of these areas.  With respect to education, they have collaborated on clerkships for medical students and rotations for preventive medicine residents.  The partnership has also collaborated to secure trainees (or fellows) from CDC'S Public Health Prevention Service who has worked with both entities. In research, Morehouse faculty and the health department staff have worked together on projects that focus on various health education initiatives and their effectiveness including the execution of a REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) grant from CDC.  In practice, they have been able to implement interventions developed through their joint research efforts such as the intervention, EPICS (Educational Program to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening) which promotes colorectal screenings in the community.  In governance, the health department has a representative on the PRC board, while the PRC principal investigator serves on the Fulton County Board of Health.  Benefits have accrued to both entitles and to the communities that they serve as a result of their collaboration and innovation.

  • Brown Paper 
    The SAPHA Research Committee continues work on the Brown Paper 2nd edition. If you have any questions regarding the Brown Paper, please contact You can currently access the complete Brown Paper 1st edition online by clicking here


Health Events

  •  Upcoming National Conferences



    For a more complete list of these conferences, please check out our website hereThe 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 an event or research posted here!