Ministry of Health press releases


CDC report highlights Hawaii efforts to address health disparities linked to COVID-19 by improving data

Posted on Sep 16, 2021 in COVID-19, Newsroom

HONOLULU – A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by researchers in Hawaii demonstrates the value of separating public health data in order to identify and address racial disparities.

Data collected by the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) revealed racial disparities in infections and deaths from COVID-19. Race and ethnicity can serve as markers of underlying systemic and structural inequities that are at the root of health disparities. This data informed the DOH’s COVID-19 response and underscored the need to prevent and reduce inequalities in social determinants of health, access to health care, and health conditions. Click here to read the report.

“These findings demonstrate the importance of data collection and disaggregation to more effectively address health disparities,” said Dr. Joshua Quint, epidemiologist and lead author of DOH. “We are grateful to our community partners who have worked hand-in-hand with the Department of Health in our health equity efforts and are committed to continuing to make data available to improve health outcomes.”

Hawai’i data was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), a national weekly newspaper highlighting public health information and recommendations. The authors include researchers from DOH, the University of Hawaii, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Data from indigenous Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Asian populations are often combined into a single cluster in studies, which can mask important differences between these communities. By separating COVID-19 infection and mortality data into more detailed racial subgroups, the report highlights large disparities in COVID-19 case and death rates among indigenous Hawaiian, Pacific Islander communities. and Asian.

Infection and death rates were highest among Pacific Islander populations. Additionally, researchers found that among Asian populations, infection rates were highest among Filipino and Vietnamese populations. The data included in the analysis was collected between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021, but the Ministry of Health continues to collect and report disaggregated data on infections and mortality.

The data enabled DOH to improve its community response, which included the establishment of the Pacific Islander Priority Surveys and Outreach Team and the COVID-19 Public Health Awareness and Education Project to provide translated prevention information, better access to resources and support for community awareness. These efforts complemented local initiatives within indigenous Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Filipino communities.

MMWR article follows DOH’s March post “COVID-19 in Hawai’i: Addressing Health Equity in Various Populations” report.

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PDF: CDC Report Highlights Hawaii Efforts To Address COVID-19 Health Gaps By Improving Data

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