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(L-R) Tim Johns of HMSA, Dr. Keawe Kaholokulā of the UH JABSOM Dept. of Native Hawaiian Health, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, OHA Ka Pouhana Kamanaʻopono Crabbe, OHA Public Policy Advocate Deja Ostrowski and OHA Chief Advocate Kawika Riley at the signing of the OHA Health Planning Bill that works toward eliminating the critical health disparities that affect Hawaiians and other vulnerable populations.

OHA helps pass important health bill

HONOLULU (June 30, 2014) – A bill signed into law today commits the state government to taking a comprehensive and modernized approach to eliminating critical health disparities that affect Native Hawaiians and other vulnerable populations.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs advocated for the policy change during this year’s legislative session, which emphasizes international and national best practices in addressing the “social determinants of health,” such as access to education, housing, transportation, human services and healthy foods.

With this new measure, state agencies are urged to consider such factors as neighborhood safety and the availability of open spaces, which could impact how much time individuals spend outside or exercising.  These and other social determinants have a direct bearing on the health of individuals and are particularly useful in addressing the health disparities of the most health-vulnerable communities.

“OHA has been one of the strongest advocates for closing the health disparities that affect Native Hawaiians,” said Kamanaʻopono Crabbe, Ka Pouhana and CEO. “With this new law, the state acknowledges the importance of smart and strategic health planning and has reiterated its commitment to address the health status of Native Hawaiians and other vulnerable communities.”

Known as OHA’s Health Planning bill HB1616/SB2103, the measure was the focus of a bill-signing ceremony at the State Capitol. The measure updates the state’s health planning statute. It also supports a top priority at OHA to improve the health of Native Hawaiians by reducing their obesity rate.

For more information about Native-Hawaiian health, visit www.oha.org/health and http://blog.hawaii.edu/uhmednow/files/2013/09/AP-Hlth-REPORT-2013.pdf.

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