I was invited by one our Pacific Islander leaders Dr. Sela Panapasa, Assistant Research Scientist at University of Michigan, to the 1st Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health Disparity & Health Equity Conference. The two day conference was held in Los Angeles from Monday, September 24 through Tuesday, September 25, 2012, bringing together Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) people from the continent, Hawaii, and the U.S. associated Pacific Islands, as well as community stakeholders, advocates, policy makers, philanthropic leaders, researchers, and students.
The conference theme was “Envision the Future: Translating Research into Healthy Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities,” and during our opening ceremony Dr. Sela talked about how we can come together as a Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander to help each other on health issues that we face in our communities around the nations. Our next speaker which was our keynote speaker for the day was Honorable Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Howard, mentioned in his remarks that he will do everything he can to help the NHPI communities to be in better health. “Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health Disparities & Health Equity I” , “Translating Research into Healthy Communities”, and “State Department of Health Programs and Strategies to Eliminate NHPI Health Disparities and Contribute to Health Equity” were the topics for the plenary after the opening ceremony. After our plenary we split into four groups for our breakout sessions. “Leading Health Issues and Understudied Health Conditions Confronting NHPI Communities” was the name of the one I attended and the speaker for this group was Justina Langidrik, Republic of Marshall Islands Ministry of Health Secretary. I was one of the speakers in the “Healthcare Access and Utilization” and my goal was to talk about the healthcare access in the Marshallese communities in Northwest Arkansas and explain to my audiences why Marshallese are not eligible for federal program to get better access to healthcare.
Even though it was only two day conference, I believe we gained lot of information about the direction we are heading with the NHPI health disparities. Dr. James S. Jackson, Director and Research Professor at University of Michigan, stated in his closing remark “This conference will help to promote the collaboration, strong leadership, and commitment needed to move forward to eliminate NHPI health disparities”. I have faith that all conference attendees (my brothers and sisters in the Pacific) will be inspired and will use the presentations to guide them in helping to create a future that will bring benefits to all the Pacific People.
--Albious Latior, Marshallese Families Out Reach Coordinator
Staff of the Northwest Arkansas Community Parent Resource Center (including original content as well as curated links to various authors around the web.)