South Asian Public Health Association SAPHA Quarterly Newsletter

Spring 2014

In This Issue
2014 SAPHA Board members
Meet the New SAPHA Board of Directors!
Brown Paper 2nd Edition Updates
Spotlight On: Our Newest Intern
SuperAmma Campaign
Public Health News and Announcements
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 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: 




Local Groups/Partnerships and Membership and Nominations 



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
Aparna Badkas
Nazeera Dawood
(Local Chapters/ Partnerships
 Committee Chair)
Bindu Garapaty (Secretary)
Memoona Hasnain (Research Committee Chair)
Semran Mann
Dhara Thakar Meghani 
(Membership Committee Chair)

Punam Parikh Modha 
(Vice President)
   Yasin Patel
Ami Shah

Dear SAPHA Professionals,  


With spring in the air, SAPHA is delighted to introduce the new SAPHA Board and share exciting plans for 2014.  First we would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the 2013 SAPHA Board and volunteers for their unyielding dedication and commitment to the successes of this past year. We will miss our outgoing President Nitasha Chaudhary, Vice-President Srilekha Palle, Communications Chair Nasiya Ahmed and valued intern, Asra Azam. We thank them for their leadership and support in advancing SAPHA's goals.


SAPHA 2013 Accomplishments:

  • Launched the 2nd edition of the SAPHA Brown Paper.
  • Participated in and built relationships with the South Asian Health Initiative in New York City, along with other experts in South Asian health from around the country.
  • Presented at the San Diego Conference for Service in South Asia.
  • Expanded our base of listerv members.
  • Continued the "telling your story" of the work we do and the commitment we have to advancing our field through a variety of means including engagement with strategic partners, interfacing with various venues, and increasing relationship at the local and national levels.
  • Published quarterly e-newsletters highlighting ongoing South Asian-related public health activities and spotlighting programs and professionals engaged in this work. 

SAPHA has taken great strides, though there is much yet to do and we look forward to engaging with all of you to achieve our 2014 shared goals. We aim this year to release the second edition of the SAPHA Brown Paper and inform you of the latest research opportunities and findings about the health of South Asians in America. We hope you will join us in networking and serving as a liaison to facilitate these activities toward improved health among South Asian communities in the United States.


What Can YOU do?

1. Join a SAPHA committee (click here for descriptions)
2. Invite your friends and colleagues to "LIKE" us on Facebook 

3. Join our listserv


We look forward to hearing from you and thank you for your continued support of SAPHA.


SAPHA Board 2014


Meet the New SAPHA Board of Directors!    



Please join us in welcoming the new 2014 SAPHA Board of Directors! This new and exciting Board includes diverse professionals with backgrounds that will undoubtedly help move SAPHA forward.


The following new Board members will serve a two-year term from 2014-2016:

  • Punam Parikh Modha, MPH - Research Project Manager, UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Yasin Patel, MPH - Presidential Management Fellow (Bethesda, MD)
  • Dhara Thakar, PhD - Assistant Professor, Erikson Institute (Chicago, IL)

The following 2013 SAPHA Board of Directors will continue their term into 2014:

  • Neelum Aggarwal, MD 
  • Aparna Badkas, B. Th.O, OTR, CYI
  • Nazeera Dawood, MD, MPH 
  • Bindu Garapaty, Psy.D
  • Memoona Hasnain, MD, MHPE, PhD
  • Ami Shah, MPH

For complete bios of all our Board members, please visit

Brown Paper 2nd Edition Updates

The SAPHA Research Committee continues work on the Brown Paper 2nd edition. Public health professionals from all over the country have volunteered to come together and contribute their time and expertise on a variety of health topics to create the newest edition of the Brown Paper.

The Brown Paper 2nd Edition will be a much needed update to the groundbreaking Brown Paper 1st Edition, first published in 2002. The compendium will again evaluate and summarize the most current knowledge and key health indicators for South Asian Americans. The included chapters will make recommendations for policymakers, health care providers, and community outreach workers. 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.


Spotlight On: Our Newest Intern

Melanie Wathugala

Currently studying in: Berkeley, CA

Hometown: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Working toward which degree: Chemical Biology
Upcoming goal: Medical school 


Melanie is currently a senior at UC Berkeley. She will be getting a degree in Chemical Biology (with a minor in Ethnic Studies) this May. She will be applying to medical school soon and during her gap year she hopes to be working in a healthcare related job, maybe even in Sri Lanka, while continuing her SAPHA work. She first heard about SAPHA last fall from Dr. Ivey, who worked on the first Brown Paper. She is excited to learn more about South Asian health issues and how she could contribute as a future South Asian physician. In just 3 months, she grateful to have already learned about cardiovascular risk factors in South Asians, has contributed by updating the SAPHA website and Facebook, and is now working on her first newsletter (this one!).  


She brings great talent, enthusiasm and excellence as the past-President of Phi Delta Epsilon, a co-education international medical fraternity and a Cal Habitat for Humanity volunteer and past-Secretary. When she's not doing PhiDE or Habitat activities, Melanie volunteers at Children's Hospital Oakland, works in an Energy Biosciences Institute research lab, occasionally trains for half-marathons and takes lots of pictures.   


Melanie wants to tell people in the Bay Area to check out Narika, which is an organization that fights against domestic violence in South Asian communities, and if they know any students that might be interested, to tell them that the Sri Lankan Students Association at Berkeley (which she founded) always welcomes new members.

SuperAmma Campaign - Effect of a behaviour-change intervention on hand washing with soap in India

In this Spring Newsletter we want to highlight this innovative public health campaign. The SuperAmma Campaign started with the goal of getting mothers in rural India to wash their hands with soap not only when there is visible dirt but also "after defecation, after cleaning a child's bottom, before food preparation and before eating."

The researchers knew that simple knowledge of germs is usually not enough of a reason to get people to change their habits. They talked to the village headman and organized skits for the school and recruiting of the mothers. The skits involve a "SuperAmma" who is focused on doing the extra effort to raise a good son and "Laddu Lingam" who is obviously dirtier and doesn't ever wash his hands. They focused on three social (instead of scientific) motivators:
1) Raising successful children with good manners.
2) Disgust at the Laddu Lingam's habits.
3) Doing what everyone else seems to be doing.
The skits covered most of the lessons for the first two motivators. For the third one, they had all of the mothers pledge to wash their hands with soap day after day and promote it in their households and made boards with names and encouraging stickers for the participants to have publicly displayed.

According to their study, described in this paper, they saw a significant increase in hand washing between their control group and their intervention group even a year after the program. For a brief overview of the article watch their campaign video.


Highlighted Public Health News and Announcements
Global Health 
April is National Minority Health Month. The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health says, "This year's theme, Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equity emphasizes the critical role of prevention in reducing health disparities. It is a call to action, a charge for all of us to unite towards a common goal of improving the health of our communities." There are events happening literally all over the country. Click here to find events near you.


New review article on health disparities training in graduate medical education indicates an educational gap. Currently, most of the training programs that do exist are in primary care. Training aims, learning activities and evaluation methods vary widely, pointing to the need for more rigorous educational development, as well as enhanced dissemination of curricular initiatives. Click here for the full article. 


Emory University has created a suicide prevention guide for South Asian Students. Though many South Asian students fortunately come from stable households with values that emphasize success and education, they may not feel comfortable, or even ashamed, to admit they are having problems academically or socially. They may not feel like they can ask for help. Click here for this unique resource that identifies risk factors and ways to help.   


The articles, events, and research listed in this section are for informational purposes only. SAPHA does not necessarily endorse the organizations, authors, or events listed.  

SAPHA Happenings

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 have to be a Supporting member of SAPHA ($30 annual dues) to be eligible to participate in a Committee and vote. For more information or if you are interested, please click on a Committee above to email the committee chair. SAPHA's success depends on the commitment and hard work of its committees and look forward to your participation! 


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Health Events

Upcoming National Conferences Microphone

For a more complete list of these conferences, please check out our website here

Email SAPHA if you would like an event or research posted here!