May is Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AA and NH/PI) Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the AA and NH/PI communities’ contributions to public health. Throughout these diverse populations is strength, resilience, and ingenuity that has changed the landscape of public health in our country. Here are a few of the communities’ many health heroes.

Dr. Kazue Togasaki overcame racial and gender barriers to become a doctor in the 1930s. Although she was sent to an internment camp with her fellow Japanese Americans during WWII, she continued caring for the health of her community. In the first month at the camp, she delivered 50 babies and went on to treat people at camps until her release. After the war, she began a new medical practice and was known to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay, providing support to the most vulnerable members of her community.

David Ho, a Taiwanese American physician and virologist, has been working in HIV/AIDS research since the beginnings of the disease. His contributions and advocacy for combination antiretroviral therapy have helped those infected with HIV have treatment and hope that didn’t exist in the beginning of the AIDS pandemic. Chosen as TIME Magazine’s man of the year in 1996, his heroism was summed up in this quote, “But some people make headlines while others make history. And when the history of this era is written, it is likely that the men and women who turned the tide on AIDS will be seen as true heroes of the age.”

Katherine Luzuriaga, MD, is a Filipino American scientist and physician on the cutting edge of research on how viruses like HIV and Epstein Barr virus infect children. Her work has led to breakthroughs in diagnosing and treating children who have been infected by these viruses. Her work also prepared her to lead a study on COVID-19 vaccination in children during the pandemic. Thanks to her dedication, children across the country and even the world will live healthier lives.

The work of the Marshallese community in Spokane has also been marked with strength and resilience in the face of many barriers to their health. This past July, former SRHD Community Health Worker Selina Leem shared her community’s journey through the pandemic in this video.

The legacy these and countless other AA and NH/PI health advocates leave are foundational to the public health of our entire community and nation. We all have the opportunity for healthier lives because of the hard work and dedication of their community.