South Asian Health Institute


Research has shown that people of South Asian descent are two-to-three times more likely to experience heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and diabetes – and ten years earlier – compared to other ethnic groups.  

Fraser Health has created the South Asian Health Institute to better understand the health needs of the South Asian population and be a global leader in South Asian health. 


The goal is to support Fraser Health programs and services to improve the health and health outcomes of the South Asian population in a culturally appropriate way through innovative, evidence-based care and research, and local, national, and international partnerships. 

Through partnerships and prevention education, Fraser Health aims to empower the South Asian population to make healthier decisions that will improve health and result in people living longer lives. 


Main areas of focus:

  • Programs – Focus on South Asian Health Centre; diabetes; maternal health; mental health and substance use; youth and health promotion
  • Research - Develop capacity; act as a network for other researchers; distribute knowledge to community
  • Local and global links – Network and collaborate with global partners through Canada India Network Society (CINS); create community engagement


  • South Asian Heart Risk Initiative and Health promotion – A partnership between high schools and Fraser Health’s Cardiac Program
  • Progressive Intercultural Community Services Adult Day Program Initiative - A daily structured program with activities, health-related services and rehabilitative services. The initiative’s goal is to provide respite for family caregivers of seniors.


Deljit Bains, Leader, South Asian Health Institute

Deljit is a Registered Nurse with over 25 years of health care experience.  She has held a variety of health care roles in acute care, education and population based community care. Deljit has managed complex surgical and cardiac programs and is currently the Leader of the South Asian Health Institute. Her role involves helping to improve health and health outcomes for the South Asian population in a culturally appropriate way through innovative evidence based care, research and local, national and international partnerships. 

Dr. Arun Garg, Medical Director, South Asian Health Institute

Dr. Garg is the Program Medical Director of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Fraser Health and Cooperation and Engagement office in the Department of Pathology Medicine of the University of British Columbia. He is also the Medical Director of Fraser Health’s South Asian Health Institute and Special Advisor to the Dean of Health Sciences of British Columbia Institute of Technology on India. Learn more about Dr. Arun Garg

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 partners. . (*“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. 

Watch the long version of the video here


Fraser Health research

  • Seed Grant for South Asian Research: Teresa Cheung, PhD, a neuroscientist in the Surrey Neurotech Lab, received this award for her study “Determination of EEG/MEG brain activity markers sensitive to stroke recovery or rehabilitation in the South Asian population.”
  • Strategic Imperative Grant: Dr. Victoria Lee, Executive Medical Director and Medical Health Officer, Population and Public Health received this award for her study “What are the barriers and facilitators to clinical prevention uptake for the South Asian population." 

External research

  • Annamali University, India/CINS/Fraser Health – Role of Salt in the Indian diet and Hypertension; Dr. Arun Garg-(Fraser Health); Dr. N Chidambaram (Annamali University)
  • UBC/CINS /Fraser Health – Diabetes Risk Assessment in the community - An epidemiological population based study– Dr. Tricia Tang (UBC); Paul Bains (CINS), Dr. Arun Garg (Fraser Health)
  • UBC/CINS/Fraser Health - Use of internet by South Asians in Surrey-eHealth strategy - A population based study - Dr. Kendal Ho (UBC); Dr. Gulzar Cheema (ICON); Paul Bains (CINS); Drs. A Garg and Victoria Lee (Fraser Health)
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University/Fraser Health – Role of Yoga in Post-Menopausal Women – Dr. Amandah Hoogbruin; Drs. Raymond Dong and Arun Garg (Fraser Health)
  • SFU – Community Health Research Team (CoHeart); Research Advisor Dr. Sonia Singh - Program Medical Director, Research and Development, Peace Arch Hospital

 Works in progress

  • Reference Intervals for Biomarkers specific to SA population – Funding support provided by Roche
  • Cardiac Services of BC – Cardiovascular Epidemiology Provincial Study in SA – Funding support provided by SMH Foundation, RCH Foundation
  • Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Surrey/Fraser Health/South Asian Health Institute/Sagol Neuroscience Research Center of Sheba Medical, Israel - This joint research project will explore the links to diabetes that lead to dementia, with a focus on the South Asian population.

South Asian Health Institute in the news

South Asian Health Report

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