Palo Alto Medical Foundation Newsroom

PAMF & Stanford Project Offers Health Screenings, Wellness Advice to South Asian Taxi Drivers

For South Asian taxi drivers, it isn’t traffic that threatens their safety, it is the sedentary lifestyle – sitting all day, every day.

Studies have found that taxi drivers are highly susceptible to a number of health problems because of their sedentary lives spent sitting behind the wheel. Drivers are must often eat on the go, making fast food their easiest option. Few of them get any exercise whatsoever, and many often suffer from back, hip and leg pain from sitting in a car all day.

South Asian taxi drivers are highly susceptible to a number of health problems because of their sedentary job.

“This lack of exercise combined with an unhealthy diet leads to disproportionately high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure among taxi drivers,” says Latha Palaniappan, M.D., Internal Medicine physician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

As part of PAMF’s cultural competency initiatives, Dr. Palaniappan and PAMF’s Cultural Competency Coordinator Edith Gamboa collaborated with Stanford’s student-led Screen Team on outreach to one of Silicon Valley’s most vulnerable communities—Mineta San Jose Airport taxi drivers.  They were joined by other PAMF employees who volunteered on Saturday, May 18, to provide health screenings and wellness advice.

Because the majority of taxi drivers at the San Jose Airport are new immigrants from South Asia or Africa, they require culturally customized services and health advice.

During Saturday’s screening, 29 taxi drivers were given personalized interviews and counseling sessions. The team of PAMF and Stanford volunteers reached out to taxi drivers at the airport, took health histories, and measured height, weight, body fat and blood pressure. Each taxi driver was given individualized counseling and culturally sensitive recommendations based on their results.

“We focused on providing education on exercise and healthy eating habits to reduce the risk for chronic diseases. The taxi drivers greatly appreciated the screening and were eager to learn more about future events,” Gamboa said.

“The Taxi Driver Screening project is an excellent example of how PAMF enhances the well-being of the people in our communities through compassion,” Dr. Palaniappan stated. “We are eager to expand our cultural competency efforts by providing services and program tailored for our diverse patients and community.”

This outreach effort is one part of PAMF’s PRANA (PRevention & AwareNess for South Asians) wellness program. It was developed by the South Asian Wellness Task Force, a committee of physicians, dietitians and community members, is led by PAMF physicians Dr. Palaniappan and Ronesh Sinha, M.D.

You can learn more about South Asian Health, videos, health tips and diet on the South Asian health section of the PAMF blog and on the PAMF South Asian health website.