SAPNA and the Region of Peel Initiate Dialogue Around Healthier Environments For Canadian South Asians

SAPNA and the Region of Peel Initiate Dialogue Around Healthier Environments For Canadian South Asians

Dr. David Mowat

The South Asian Professional Network for Health Awareness (SAPNA) partnered with the Region of Peel on February 21, 2013 for a successful dialogue with community leaders around ‘Healthy by Design: Building environments that support health among the South Asian community.” Guest speakers included Dr. David Mowat, Medical Officer of Health, Region of Peel and Dr. Sonia Anand, Professor at the Department of Medicine at McMaster University. Attendees included Jagmeet Singh, MPP of Bramalea-Gore-Malton and Pat Saito, Ward 9 Councillor in Mississauga.

“As the voice of South Asian health in Canada, SAPNA continues to increase the awareness of health issues faced by South Asians by working in partnership with other organizations to help influence policy and behaviour change for the Canadian South Asian community,” said Dr. Rav Kumar, President of SAPNA.

“SAPNA & The Region of Peel were able to engage leaders in the South Asian community, the health care industry, education and government in active discussion on ways to improve the health of Canadian South Asians and on commitments to change that can be implemented in their own organizations,” -Dr. Rav Kumar, President of SAPNA.

South Asians are the largest and fastest growing visible minority group in Canada and represent a large proportion of the demographic in Peel. According to SAPNA’s Action Plan to Advance the Health of South Asian Canadians Report, South Asians are three to five times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than the general population. Of all expatriate ethnic groups, South Asians have the highest rates of morbidity and mortality from diabetes-related cardiovascular disease (CVD), with 40% higher age-standardized mortality from coronary artery disease (CAD) than Caucasians.

At the event, Dr. Mowat discussed physical and social aspects of a community’s surroundings and the benefits of creating supportive environments that can contribute to better health and reduced risk of diabetes amongst South Asians in Peel. Specifically, Dr. Mowat focused on changes, such as creating safe environments for kids to walk to school; utilizing signage to encourage the use of stairs instead of elevators; taking breaks or supporting mobile meetings, and offering healthy foods at local offices, mosques, and temples to support healthy eating. In closing, Dr. Mowat challenged community leaders to continue the dialogue on healthy living, set an example and help people shift to a healthier less sedentary lifestyle.

 (Left to Right) Dr. Colin Saldanha, Gayle Bursey,
Dr. David Mowat, Priti Chawla, Dr. Rav Kumar,
Ajay Bhatia, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Konrad Noronha

The second guest speaker, Dr. Anand focused on the cardiovascular risk factors in South Asian Canadians and shed light on some important research and work in this field. She highlighted key risk factors that lead to cardiovascular related diseases such as abdominal obesity and increased body fat in South Asians.

SAPNA will be posting its own commitment to change, as well as examples of other commitments individuals generated at the event, at

SAPNA, meaning “dream” in Hindi and Urdu, is a non-profit organization committed to improving the health and well-being of South Asian Canadians. SAPNA members dream of the day when South Asian Canadians are aware, empowered, motivated and supported in living longer, healthier lives.

For more information about SAPNA, click HERE