Fraser Health: South Asian Health Institute (SAHI)
The SEHAT program
Did you know?
Fraser Health Authority is home to over 250,000 South Asian residents. The South Asian population is at higher risk of developing chronic diseases. Research has shown that people of South Asian descent are 2-3 times more likely to get heart disease, kidney disease, stroke- and diabetes – and 10 years earlier – compared to other ethnic groups.
SEHAT Wellness Ambassadors
Fraser Health launched the SEHAT Wellness Ambassadors project in mid -2015, to address high rates of chronic disease among the local South Asian population. Building on the success of the Ambassador program, the SEHAT team has now launched a new community-based wellness program, the Apnee SEHAT* Design Lab, that promotes health and wellness to the South Asian community with the support of community partner (*“Apnee Sehat” translates into “my health” in Punjabi).
The Apnee SEHAT Design Lab operates with this theory of change: “If we can enable clients to eat healthy and move more by designing culturally relevant health promotion campaigns and clinical prevention services, then we can reduce their risk of chronic disease and associated health system burden.”
To achieve this, SEHAT engages, empowers and educates South Asians about how to make healthy choices and how to make healthy choices easy. Specifically, SEHAT works to reduce the consumption of added sugar. To date, the program has engaged over 10,000 South Asian residents, and operates in 12 community sites. Current examples of SEHAT’s campaign activities include:
SEHAT Cooks. A collaboration with the largest public Sikh Gurdwara to reduce added sugar in the daily meals served to up to 2000 people by 25%, while also encouraging healthy food purchases and donations. This intervention is now rolling out at 7 additional places of worship across the region.
SEHAT Works. A collaboration with local South Asian business leaders to co-design culturally relevant healthy eating activities and services for the workplace, to improve employee health outcomes and productivity.
SEHAT Shops. An emerging partnership with a local grocery chain to develop culturally relevant educational food label reading tools and services.
In 2016, Fraser Health published the South Asian Health Report. The report includes survey responses from over 15,000 community members. It was the first of its kind in Canada.
The report provides valuable information on the health of South Asians in the Fraser Health region.
Key findings include:
Over 240,000 (15%) people in Fraser Health identify as South Asian;
Median age is 39;
One in five do not speak English;
50% have high school education or less;
Almost 22% have lived in Canada 10 years or less; and
10% do not have a family doctor.
Nearly 60% have body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 and are considered obese; (based on revised cut off BMI for South Asians)
South Asians born in Canada are more likely to choose unhealthy fast food and sugary drinks;
Many people -- 3 out of 5 -- do not get enough exercise; and
Most people -- 7 out of 8 -- do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.
Chronic disease levels are higher among South Asians compared to Fraser Health overall;
16% have diabetes (three times higher);
7% have heart disease (two times higher);
12% have multiple chronic diseases; and
Almost half (2+ out of 5) have two or more risk factors that can lead to chronic disease.
Linguistic and cultural barriers pose challenges for managing chronic conditions;
Factors that drive health inequities and chronic diseases in the South Asian community are complex;
Partnerships and collective action are essential to achieve better health; and
Factors for success include cultural relevance, early intervention, and involving the whole family.
There are also many strengths in the South Asian community, including family groups living together, a strong sense of community belonging, and a younger population that may be more accessible through social media. These strengths can be used to target improvements.
Fraser Health and SAHI are committed to providing equitable, respectful, and culturally sensitive care to clients -- whenever possible in their own language.
Together we can achieve our vision of providing better care and best in health care.