Physician Profile: Rishi Manchanda, M.D., M.P.H.

Rishi Manchanda, M.D., M.P.H.Rishi Manchanda has been making his mark as a socially responsible physician. Well-versed in both local and international health issues, he is making bold moves to improve the health of underserved communities through local and international advocacy.

Dr. Manchanda is a primary care physician in south central Los Angeles. He is an internist, pediatrician, HIV specialist and member of the National Health Service Corps. As the current Director of Social Medicine and Health Equity at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, Dr. Manchanda coordinates the clinic’s work in addressing the upstream determinants of health and advancing a human rights approach to health. He previously worked at Venice Family Clinic, the nation’s largest free clinic. As an architect of the South Los Angeles Declaration of Health and Human Rights, Dr. Manchanda coordinates with a local grassroots network of health clinics, affordable housing developers, health promoters and community organizers. He is also the primary organizer of the First Annual Health and Human Rights conference on June 5, 2009, which PSR-LA is co-convening.

After receiving his M.D. and M.P.H. from Tufts University, Dr. Manchanda trained at UCLA in the Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency program, which specialized in community health and advocacy. During his time there, he served as chief resident and now serves on the program’s advisory board.
In addition to being an active member of PSR-LA, Dr. Manchanda serves on the Board of Directors of the National Physicians Alliance and is the founder of the Rx Vote Campaign, a nationwide nonpartisan effort to promote civic engagement in health care. Last fall, the Rx Vote coalition registered over 25,000 voters in clinics and doctor’s offices. He is also active with Physicians for Human Rights and Doctors for America (formerly known as Doctors for Obama). He has be
come increasingly interested in bringing innovative concepts in social entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and human rights advocacy to bear on transforming the profession of medicine and unleashing the power of physicians to partner with patients to deliver measurable and marked improvements in health inside and outside the walls of the clinic.

Dr. Manchanda traces his roots in activism to his undergraduate participation in a Peace and Justice Studies program and his days interning at the Lincoln Filene Center, where he explored concepts of civic engagement. Research has shown that the most vulnerable populations, including low-income working families, tend to vote at lower rates. Dr. Manchanda sees this as a key issue preventing citizens from using the ballot box to advocate for better services and community improvements that could help them lead healthier lives.  As a founding member of a South Asian American progressive political group, Dr. Manchanda organized several events with other minority communities, including a forum on race and immigration shortly after the immigrant rights rallies of 2006 and voter outreach for the 2008 presidential election.

Through community work in the U.S. and abroad over the years, Dr. Manchanda has organized focus groups and performed case studies around issues ranging from the role of community health workers in addressing the South African HIV epidemic to the perceived health barriers among Ethiopian and Brazilian immigrants in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, authoring recent articles entitled, “Fearmongering and Health Reform: The Public Insurance Option,” (03/23/09) and “A Bumpy Road to Health: Human Rights, Obama, and Lessons from Kenya” (12/10/08).
Dr. Manchanda’s dedication to socially responsible medicine and effective advocacy on health issues is an inspiration to the entire medical community. His dedicated leadership inspires advocates of all backgrounds to speak out for public health.

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