SAPHA envisions better health and well-being of South Asians and the communities in which they live.
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.
- 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.
South Asian Community in the United States
Who are the South Asians in the US that SAPHA is dedicated to serving?South Asians are a wide group of persons representing all walks of life, vocations, religions, and interests, who are bound by a common ancestry and history. South Asians are either directly themselves from South Asia or have ancestry in the region. This region includes: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, as well as those “twice migrated” from other parts of the diaspora such as the Caribbean and East Africa The South Asian population in the US is rapidly growing. For example, between 2000 and 2010, South Asians became the fastest growing major ethnic group in the U.S. It is estimated that there are nearly 5.4 million South Asians in the United States.3
The South Asian community in the United States is diverse. TThe earliest South Asian immigrants came to the United Statesas 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.