Health Equity in Hawaii

December 3, 2010, 9:36 AM HST · Updated December 3, 9:36 AM
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In an effort to make sure every resident on the islands of Hawaii have the same access to high quality health care, the state has implemented the Office of Health Equity. This agency is committed to increasing the capacity of the Hawaii State Department of Health, to provide respectful and dignified medical services to all who require it. The agency was created in an effort to reduce the disparity in health care among Hawaii’s diverse population.

Purpose of the Office of Health Equity

The Office of Health Equity in Hawaii was first designed to identify segments of the population who were not receiving the same quality of health care as other residents of the islands. Once those sectors are identified, the Office of Health Equity goes to work to provide health services to those areas of the population, with programs directly related to the diverse ethnic and racial populations throughout the islands. This agency is the go-to organization for the Department of Health in the implementation and coordination of health-related programs throughout the islands.

The focus of the Office of Health Equity includes:

  • Identifying health disparities and needs within the Hawaiian population
  • Making recommendations for programs and activities to meet those needs
  • Developing culturally appropriate interventions to ensure every part of the Hawaiian population receives the best health care available
  • Promoting the Healthy People 2010 Objectives advocated by the Department of Health and Human Services
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The programs offered by the Office of Health Equity bring health living assistance, as well as quality medical care, to populations in the islands that might not receive such services otherwise.

Current Programs Offered

The Office of Health Equity is currently immersed in the following programs:

  • Cultural and Linguistic Appropriate Training for all Department of Health employees
  • Development of standardized reporting of ethnic/racial data throughout the islands
  • Development of policy in using bilingual interpreters within the Department of Health
  • Coordination with Native Hawaiian Health Systems and Papa Ola Lokahi to improve the health of Kanaka maoli
  • Assessment of the use of faith-based organizations for health promotion programs in the islands
  • Development of a Department of Health data warehouse in conjunction with the Department of Health Informatics Office

The Office of Health Equity was created to ensure that everyone living on the Hawaiian Islands has the same access to high quality health care. With the diverse population that calls the various Hawaiian Islands home, it is an important and complex job to cross ethnic and cultural boundaries to ensure everyone living in Hawaii enjoys the best physical and mental health possible.

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