September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document


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Title:64 percent of South Asians in Queens dont have health insurance

Author:Priya Malhotra

Publication:Desi Talk

Original Language:English



Blurb:A New York Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training conference focused on cancer prevention and research.Asian Pacific Islander (API) health data that is collected on a national level often masks the problems that South Asians in New York City face, Nadia Islam told i>Desi Talk./i>


Body:About 64 percent of South Asians in Queens have no health insurance, according to a study by the New York Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training (NYAANCART), the results of which were presented at a conference titled Asian Americans and Health: Meeting the Needs of Our Growing Community. The conference was organized by NYAANCART at the New York Hospital, Queens, on March 5.

The results of the survey on health issues concerning the South Asian and the Korean community were presented by Simona Kwon, project director for NYAANCART, who said that 355 surveys were conducted at health fairs, cultural events, religious institutions and senior centers for South Asians.

The mean age of the South Asian respondents was 41 and the average income was $20,000-$28,000. Kwon said the study indicated that 70 percent of the South Asians surveyed said that they had forgone needed health care because of the costs, during the past 12 months.

The report stated that South Asian women who had lived in the United States for less than 10 years were less likely to have ever had a Pap smear than those who had lived here for longer. According to the report, 18 percent of South Asians surveyed believed cancer was contagious and 46 percent of them believed that getting cancer was a matter of fate.

NYAANCART is a National Cancer Institute-funded project based at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. The main aim of the network is to broaden and expand community-based cancer control and prevention activities, as well as encourage greater participation by members of Asian communities in cancer research initiatives.

A number of South Asians are members of the network, including Navneet Kathuria, Habibul Ahsan, Nadia Islam, Naseem Zojwalla, Anu Gupta and Kavita Mariwalla.

The conference included a variety of presentations on health issues concerning Asian Americans, with a focus on cancer prevention and research.

Asian Pacific Islander (API) health data that is collected on a national level often masks the problems that South Asians in New York City face, Nadia Islam, South Asian community outreach coordinator for NYAANCART, told Desi Talk.

There are several reasons for this. First, South Asians are often not represented in national data. Second, most health research on Asian Americans is conducted in California, where the API community is quite demographically different than the community in New York City. For example, in comparing rates of health insurance among Asians, we found that more than 60 percent percent of our South Asian sample was uninsured in New York City.

Data from California, however, indicates that only 11 percent of the Asian Pacific community is uninsured. It is very important, therefore, that more research is conducted in the South Asian community in general, as well as the New York City South Asian community in particular. A case study on New York City taxi drivers health, sponsored by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) and NYAANCART, found that 77 percent of them were uninsured because it was not offered through the job, the high cost and the perceived lack of need. The results of this study, which surveyed 183 drivers, were presented by Bhairavi Desai of NYTWA and Islam of NYAANCART. The study said that the 30 percent of the taxi drivers were Indian, 35 percent were Pakistani and 19 percent were Bangladeshi. Their mean age is 36 and 73 percent of them are married. About 23 percent of taxi drivers in New York City have never had a medical check-up and about 20 percent have not had a check-up within the past 12 months, the study found. The top health concerns for taxi drivers are lower back pain, heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.

The survey found that taxi drivers said they were under a lot of stress, with 52 percent of them reporting daily stress and 20 percent reporting stress a few times a week. In another presentation, Marcus Loo, clinical director of NYAANCART, said that cancer was the leading cause of death among Asian Americans under 50.

Overall, however, Asian Americans had a lower incidence of cancer when compared to white Americans and African Americans. The incidence of cancer among Asian Americans was 279 per 100,000 people, while African Americans had a rate of 445 per 100,000 people and white Americans had a rate of 402 per 100,000 people, said Loo. He also said that lung cancer and smoking rates among Asian Americans were less than that of white Americans. Asian American women had the lowest breast cancer and Pap test screening rates compared with any other racial or ethnic group in the United States, noted Loo.

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