Hawaii is renowned for its healthy lifestyle, yet there are still significant health disparities between Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Filipinos. Heart disease is a common condition in the state, but diabetes is also prevalent and disproportionately affects Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Asians. Investing in healthy babies and families is essential for healthier communities and future generations. The PILI 'Ohana Project (POP) is a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) initiative that seeks to reduce the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in Hawaii's Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities.
Stroke prevalence among Native Hawaiians has also increased to twice that of other Hawaiian ethnic groups. Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Filipinos make up 40 percent of the state's population, yet they experience higher rates of physical illness and mental health problems, shorter life expectancy, and poorer access to healthcare than Caucasian and Asian people in Hawaii. To identify indicators that could lead to the development of diabetes later in life, Hawaii's largest health insurer is conducting a survey of 150,000 members. Foreign workers were hired in the mid-19th century to work in the sugar and pineapple industries.
In the early 1970s, Native Hawaiians gained renewed interest in their traditional culture and improving their social conditions. Wellness programs help attract employees according to Peter Burke, co-founder and president of the Best Companies group. Two community partners from POP participated in a pilot study to test the feasibility and initial efficacy of Ola Hou to improve the treatment of Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP) in patients with poorly controlled high blood pressure (SBP ≥ 140 mmHg). In addition to 2,000 young people with serious problems receiving help from the Division of Mental Health for Children and Adolescents, another 4,500 receive specialized services from therapists in their schools.
The University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) created a new Pacific Innovation, Knowledge and Opportunity Center (PIKO) to improve the health and well-being of Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Filipinos, and other Hawaiian populations with limited medical services.