Native and Pacific Health Disparities Research
Joseph Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula, Erin Saito, Cecilia Shikuma,
Mele Look, Kim Spencer-Tolentino, and Marjorie K. Mau
Hawaii Medical Journal
Health disparities are a national health priority and occur “…when a particular population has significantly higher rates of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, or mortality than the general population” (U.S. Public Law 106–525).1 Health disparate populations are often defined by race/ethnicity, socio-economic status (SES), generational status (e.g., older adults), and geographical location (e.g., rural areas). Most often there is an overlap between different populations categorized as health disparate, for example the over-representation of a particular racial/ethnic group in a lower SES.
Although racial/ethnic disparities in health status have been acknowledged for more than a century, it has only recently become a national priority.2 Toward this end, the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act (USPL 106–525) authorized the establishment of the National Center of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) under the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The mission of NCMHD is “to promote minority health and to lead, coordinate, support, and assess the NIH effort to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities.” To meet this mission, NCMHD seeks to “conduct and support basic, clinical, social, and behavioral research, promote research infrastructure and training, foster emerging programs, disseminate information, and reach out to minority and other health disparity communities.”
In 2002, the Department of Native Hawaiian Health (DNHH) was funded by NCMHD to create a Center of EXcellence in Partnerships, Outreach, Research and Training (Center EXPORT) to address health disparities in Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Peoples. In 2007, the
EXPORT Center was replaced and expanded into the Center for Native and Pacific Health Disparities Research (the “Center”) which focuses on cardiometabolic disparities in Native Hawaiians, Alaska Natives, and other Pacific Island Peoples (including Samoans, Chuukese, and Filipinos). The Center is in the DNHH, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM). Its partnerships include Alaska Natives in Anchorage and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Island Peoples in California.
Native Hawaiians, Alaska Natives, and other Pacific Island Peoples are disproportionately affected by diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), obesity, and associated risk factors. Following is an overview of the Center and its three main components that are designed to reduce and eliminate cardiometabolic disparities in the targeted populationsDownload PDF