Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Impact Brief May CEO Message

May 2023 marks Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month. As we celebrate the innumerable and significant contributions of these communities to our nation, we must also acknowledge that centuries-long prejudices, oppression, violence, and other injustices against these populations have resulted in significant health inequities.

These disparities are compounded by socioeconomic factors, language barriers, and access to healthcare services.

Further, most health data does not acknowledge or reflect the many different communities, ethnicities, and groups that make up the umbrella terms Asian, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (or AANHPI). This aggregation of different ethnicities, cultures, and origins in public health research science, in and of itself, represents systemic racism and necessitates repair. (Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming webinar “Data Disaggregation and Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Populations,” which will discuss these issues.)

NACDD is committed to health equity for all and addressing health disparities wherever they exist as we advocate, educate, and provide technical assistance to grow chronic disease prevention knowledge, leadership, and capacity.

This March, we held our inaugural Pacific Islands Chronic Disease Academy (PICDA) in Kamuela, Hawaii, with 69 attendees from across the United States Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI). The event followed the Association’s mainland Chronic Disease Academy commitment to supporting the highest level of effective public health practice.

The PICDA was held congruently with the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Collaborative Learning Session. Aimed at diabetes management, the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Collaborative works to navigate the changes needed in community and health systems to promote effective communication between informed, activated patients and a prepared, proactive healthcare team, leading to patient/family-centered services and improved health outcomes. 

Each day of the event offered three plenary sessions conducted by presenters respected and acclaimed in the USAP as well as course blocks and interest groups. Topics included current, regionally focused content such as the Pacific NCD Emergency Declaration, Tobacco, Cancer, and Nutrition. 

We are excited about the thoughtful discussions and forthcoming opportunities from this convening as we continue our work in these areas.

Some of our ongoing and recent programs engaging in Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander communities include:

Pacific Chronic Disease Council

Since 2009, the Pacific Chronic Disease Council (PCDC) has provided leadership in promoting health literacy in the region by developing an integrated primary healthcare-level response to address high chronic disease rates. The PCDC covers the U.S. Associated Pacific Islands (USAPI) health issues and systems. 

USAPI jurisdictions include American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).

Walkability Action Institutes in CNMI

In partnership with Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) and Brabu Behavioral Health Services, NACDD implemented walkability assessments in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI); specifically with Saipan, Tinian, and Rota over the last few years. 

In July 2023, CHCC and Brabu are partnering with NACDD to implement a Walkability Action Institute. Participants will develop a unified action plan for the CNMI, including policy, system, and environmental changes to improve island walkability, movability, and community and transportation design.

Data Modernization in the Pacific

Implementing CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative (DMI) will require strong partnerships and an understanding of how the national agenda aligns with local data systems and priorities. During 2022-2023, NACDD partnered with five Pacific jurisdictions on chronic disease data and surveillance system improvement pilot projects to build relationships and learn more about best supporting DMI implementation in the Pacific region. 

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program

In 2021, NACDD captured real-life stories for CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program to share how vital screening and diagnostic services are provided, like in the USAPI. Watch to see how this takes place: vimeo.com/624647878

Building Resilient Inclusive Communities in Hawaii

In Hawai’i, NACDD’s Building Resilient Inclusive Communities (BRIC) program has partnered with Papa Ola Lokahi to improve safe physical activity access statewide. Papa Ola Lokahi is an organization whose mission is to improve the health status and wellbeing of Native Hawaiians and others. 

Through this collaboration, a community-centered statewide transportation equity working group was created to help define values, definitions, and principles for promoting equitable transportation at the local, regional, and state level. 

BRIC is also continuing work with the group to grow its membership, increase awareness, and ensure all populations and voices are represented and heard. The group recently hosted a successful training on transportation equity with Charles T. Brown, the founder and principal of Equitable Cities.

Play Streets Pilot Program in Hawaii

In another project of the BRIC program, the Hawaii Department of Health has partnered with Get Fit Kauai (the longtime DOH funded coalition for physical activity and built environment on the island) to convene Kauai County stakeholders to inform the development of the Play Streets pilot. Play Streets are neighborhood-led, short term road closures surrounding a block to create a safe space for gatherings, play, and activity. The Hawaii DOH is working to ensure that rural and Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Filipino community voices and needs are driving the implementation and planning of the pilot. 

Learn more about BRIC’s projects in Hawaii

Non-Communicable Disease Collaborative – Promoting Healthy Eating

The Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Collaborative addresses Pacific Islander health through the provision of technical assistance for diabetes prevention and management. The NACDD Islands Portfolio includes the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) and jurisdictions, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. The collaborative offers peer-to-peer learning opportunities, leadership-focused training, and opportunities for rapid-cycle quality improvement projects. 

The NCD Collaborative’s Living Well with Diabetes Video series, “Making Good Food Choices,” features a chapter on how USAPI community leaders/members promote healthy eating.  

Careers at NACDD

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