NHPI Coalition applies cultural approach to stopping COVID-19
NHPI community continues to be disproportionately impacted by the virus, according to COVID-19 case data
News Release from OHA
Honolulu, HI (Nov. 16, 2020) – A coalition of leading organizations dedicated to serving Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) is taking a cultural approach to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and promoting the safety and wellness of their communities. Called the NHPI Collective COVID-19 Awareness and Prevention Campaign, this hui is led by the steering committee of Kamehameha Schools, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
“We felt it was our kuleana to address this through a cultural lens. We determined the strengths of our community and utilized these core values to articulate solutions for our ‘ohana,” said Mehana Hind, Community Engagement Director at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. “We are asking everyone to mālama your pālama and take care of your mind, body and spirit, and your ‘ohana.”
The organizations joined forces in the summer to address the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the NHPI community. Members of the collective include The Queen’s Health Systems, Papa Ola Lokahi, Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust, King Lunalilo Trust and Home, and We Are Oceania.
“We continue to see the disproportionate impacts of this pandemic on the welfare of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders,” said Kau‘i Burgess, Director of Community & Government Relations at Kamehameha Schools. “As island communities, our people and our cultures share similar values and practices, so we are working together to effect change throughout Hawai‘i – for our keiki, for our kūpuna and for all the people of Hawai‘i.
Recent COVID-19 case data from the Department of Health show that Pacific Islanders continue to account for the majority of COVID-19 cases with 29% of the cases, though they make up only 4% of the population. Native Hawaiians represent the third-highest pool of COVID-19 positive patients with 17% of the total cases to date.
To date, the collective has worked to stop the spread of the virus amongst the NHPI population by:
- Instituting a month-long kapu to encourage mauli ola, a focus on one’s health and wellbeing, through the leadership of two dozen well-respected kumu hula.
- Launching educational initiatives like public service announcements (PSAs) featuring key community leaders. The hui recently released a PSA featuring Dr. Jordan Lee, a Native Hawaiian doctor, who speaks about what it’s like working on the frontline in the ICU at The Queen’s Medical Center.
- Providing and pointing people to resources like free COVID-19 testing, food distributions, and financial support.
“We cannot let our guard down. We know our Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population is vulnerable in terms of health disparities, making us an at-risk community,” said Kūhiō Lewis, president and CEO of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. “We have to be vigilant and work together to ensure that everyone is mindful of the risk involved in not taking the proper precautions to protect your health and safety.
Amidst the double-threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and flu season, the collective is urging the lāhui to take preventative measures to stay healthy like getting a flu shot.
“It’s especially important that you get your flu shot this year to prevent the double-whammy of developing symptoms of the flu and COVID-19,” said Dr. Gerard Akaka, Vice President of Native Hawaiian Affairs & Clinical Support at The Queen’s Health Systems. “We are at war and COVID-19 is the enemy. We have to change the way we do things and share aloha in a different way.”
“From a cultural perspective, it comes down to saving our families,” said Jocelyn Howard, Program Director of We Are Oceania. “A clear solution to save our families that we can take into our own hands and doesn’t require doctors is to wear a mask and social distance.”
About the NHPI Collective COVID-19 Awareness and Prevention Campaign
Led by the steering committee of Kamehameha Schools, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the organizations joined forces in the summer to address the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community. Members of the collective include Kawaiaha‘o Church, Partners in Development, The Queen’s Health Systems, Papa Ola Lokahi, Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust, King Lunalilo Trust and Home, and We Are Oceania.
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(A completely different group gets funding from NIH, announced by UH JABSOM and Schatz’ office….)
Nearly $1 Million Headed To Hawai‘i To Increase COVID-19 Testing For Pacific Islander Communities
News Release from Office of Sen Brian Schatz, November 18, 2020
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today announced that the University of Hawai‘i (UH) at Manoa will receive $958,613 from the National Institutes of Health to increase the reach, access and uptake of COVID-19 testing among Pacific Islander communities in Hawai‘i and Guam. This grant will fund the Puipuia le Ola project, which improves testing outreach to Pacific Islanders through culturally and linguistically appropriate community engagement.
"We need to do more to fight outbreaks in Pacific Islander communities. By ramping up testing and supporting the targeted outreach efforts of local agencies on the ground, we can help stop the spread of the virus,” said Senator Schatz, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “There’s still more work to do, but this federal grant is a good start.”
According to the Hawai‘i Department of Health, Pacific Islanders account for 28 percent of COVID-19 infections, despite being just 4 percent of the state’s population. Public health experts agree that increasing testing will help stop community spread of the virus, which will lead to fewer infections and deaths.
The Puipuia le Ola project is a partnership between UH Manoa, University of Guam, Kalihi-Palama Health Center, the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander COVID-19 Response, Recovery, Resilience Team (COVID 3R), Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority, Hawai‘i Affordable Housing, Inc., American Samoa Government, and multiple community-based organizations.
Since the start of the pandemic, Hawai‘i has received tens of millions in federal funding for coronavirus testing and other public health strategies to stop the spread.
UH Mānoa receives NIH funding to develop culturally resonant strategies to increase COVID-19 testing among Pacific Islanders in Hawaiʻi and Guam
The innovative project “Puipuia le Ola” involves a multidisciplinary team and several community partners.
by Deborah Dimaya, Interim Communications Director, UH JABSOM, November 18th, 2020
The University of Hawaiʻi (UH) has received nearly $1 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) towards developing and evaluating community engagement strategies meant to help increase COVID-19 testing and to better understand the SARS-CoV-2 infection patterns among non-Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders (PI) in Hawaiʻi and on Guam. These culturally-tailored strategies will be disseminated to the PI communities in their native languages. Across the United States, PI have among the highest rates of contracting and succumbing to COVID-19.
The NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative is meant to accelerate the development, commercialization, and deployment of innovative technologies for COVID-19 testing. A major component of this initiative is the RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program which is focused on identifying factors associated with the disproportionately high infection rates and poor outcomes of COVID-19 in underserved and vulnerable populations and to reduce disparities in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in these communities, who are most at risk during the pandemic.
“This will be one of the first NIH-supported projects designed to sustain efforts not only for COVID-19 mitigation among Pacific Islanders, but for achieving the capacity and collective partnerships among Pacific Islanders to reach long-term goals of reducing long-standing health disparities,” said Dr. Richard Yanagihara, professor at the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) and one of the principal investigators.
Puipuia le Ola, which is Samoan for “protecting life,” represents a trans-disciplinary partnership between UH Manoa, the University of Guam, Kalihi-Palama Health Center, the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander COVID019 Response, Recovery, Resilience Team (COVID 3R), Hawaii Public Housing Authority, Hawaiʻi Affordable Housing, Inc., the American Samoa government and multiple community-based organizations including the Marshallese Community Organization of Hawaiʻi, First Samoan Congregational Christian Church of Honolulu and Pacific Resources for Education and Learning. The project’s principal investigators include Drs. Richard Yanagihara, Angela Sy, Wei-Kung Wang and Tina Tauasosi-Posiulai of the UH medical school.
“This grant provides a rare but much-needed opportunity for community-based organizations which serve PI in Hawaii and Guam to have the resources to collaborate in health education and outreach to increase COVID-19 testing uptake,” said JABSOM Assistant Professor Dr. Angela Sy.
Locally, PI represent only 4% of Hawaiʻi’s population but account for nearly 30% of COVID-19 cases and 20% of all COVID-19 deaths. PI also suffer from multiple medical conditions known to increase the risk of having severe COVID-19 symptoms. In addition, many PI tend to have poor access to health care, lack adequate health insurance, live in multi-generational housing and work in service jobs that increase their daily risk exposure. from On Guam, COVID-19 cases have spiked among indigenous Chamoru and immigrant Micronesians.
“Our Community and Scientific Advisory Board has clearly articulated that Pacific Islanders need a seat at the table to help chart their own destiny,” said Dr. Tina Tauasosi-Posiulai, lead of the PI Sub-team of COVID 3R and one of the principal investigators.
Thus, a major innovation of the project is the equal academic and community partnerships to design and implement culturally appropriate strategies for COVID-19 testing, surveillance and prevention efforts. The multidisciplinary team of scientific researchers, clinicians and Pacific Islander community leaders, all with decades of commitment to progressing the health of this group will provide the expertise for this project—the first of its kind.