Immigrant Health & Cancer Disparities Service: South Asian Health Initiative

Americans of South Asian descent hail from countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet, and Sri Lanka, as well as areas such as the Caribbean. Many South Asian immigrants in New York City lack health insurance and do not have primary care doctors.

The South Asian Health Initiative (SAHI) is working to increase awareness and treatment of the most common health problems affecting the South Asian immigrant community in New York City, including oral cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. We collaborate with a wide range of community- and faith-based organizations, such as the South Asian Council of Social Services (SACSS), academic institutions, and policy experts.

Our Services

In conjunction with religious and community organizations, SAHI and SACSS organize health fairs that offer:

  • Free screening for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and oral cancer
  • Assistance with health insurance enrollment
  • Information about free or low-cost healthcare services

Our Research

SAHI is working to identify and increase awareness of the unique health needs of the South Asian community, and to develop sustainable health initiatives.

Supporting Taxi Drivers to Exercise through Pedometers (STEP) is a pilot exercise-intervention study to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease among South Asian taxi drivers, who are sedentary due to their occupation.(1) Findings from STEP are currently being reviewed and will help us to develop a broader plan to increase physical activity in this population.

The Smokeless Tobacco Product Prevention and Awareness Network (STOP PAAN) is a community-based research program aimed at reducing the use of smokeless tobacco products, which are linked with rising oral cancer rates in South Asian immigrants.(2), (3)

In partnership with the New York University Institute of Environmental Medicine, we are piloting a study to assess the awareness of health risks posed by arsenic exposure through drinking water and the knowledge of risk reduction measures among Bangladeshi immigrants in New York City. Findings from this study will be used to develop culturally and linguistically appropriate health education materials for Bangladeshis and their healthcare providers. Study results will also inform future health research priorities for South Asian immigrants.

Contact Us

For more information about SAHI program activities, please contact Lakshmi Prasad at prasadl@mskcc.org or Sehrish Bari at baris@mskcc.org.

For more information about SAHI research, please contact Nicole Roberts at robertsn@mskcc.org.