By BJ Reyes
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday announced an "unprecedented" project aimed at collecting health data on on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations. Data would help lead to reports on a wide range of health indicators for those populations.
Officials say the project, the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander National Health Interview Survey, aims to include a sample of approximately 4,000 households. Data collection begins in February and findings will be available in the summer of 2015, according to a news release.
Said Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health:
“This project represents a significant milestone in our implementation of the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities by enhancing the availability and quality of data collected and reported on racial and ethnic minority populations. This unprecedented survey, which further advances the goals of data collection as called for by the Affordable Care Act, will shed important light on the health status of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population.”
Information will be collected through the National Health Interview Survey, which is conducted by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. It's the nation’s largest in-person, household health survey, providing information on an individual’s health status, access to and use of health services, health insurance coverage, immunizations, risk factors and health-related behaviors.
According to the 2010 Census, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders comprise just 0.4 percent of the total U.S. population, but available data indicates they experience significant health disparities when compared to other groups. Officials say the lack of reliable health data for this population makes it difficult to assess their health status and needs.
Said Charles Rothwell, NCHS director:
“CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics regards this project as a major step forward in providing much needed health data about the ethnically and culturally diverse U.S. population."
For more information: National Health Interview Survey.
In a separate news release, John A. Burns School of Medicine Dean Jerris Hedges described the project as a "huge step forward."
"In the past, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders were lumped into the same statistical category with other Asian groups, when we know that in fact Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have unique health disparities that need to be addressed. About 50 percent of Native Hawaiians are located in Hawaii with most others are on the U.S. mainland, and including representatives from both Hawaii and the U.S. mainland in the national survey will provide important new data, especially for those of us committed to reducing health inequities among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders."