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OHA releases report on the health of Native Hawaiian men

HONOLULU (June 2, 2017) – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) today held an event at its office to launch Kānehōʻālani: Transforming the Health of Native Hawaiian Men, a 45-page report on the well-being of Hawaiian kāne. The launch of the report coincides with Men’s Health Month, which is June.

About 50 leaders and representatives of various Native Hawaiian-serving organizations attended the event, which included presentations and speeches about the importance of the decade-in-the-making study as well as discussions on recommendations and next steps.

Kānehōʻālani builds upon the E Ola Mau study, which was developed by a group of scholars in the mid-1980s and led to the passage of the federal Native Hawaiian Health Act.Kānehōʻālani is grounded in data gleaned from various state departments, federal survey systems, among other sources. However, what sets Kānehōʻālani’s apart from previous research is its wide-ranging scope and cultural emphasis.

The report tracks health across an individual’s lifespan from, keiki to kupuna, while also examining how many different factors impact health, such as education, occupation, incarceration and housing – collectively referred to as the social determinants of health. The report also underscores the important role of males in traditional Hawaiian customs, which may offer a cultural road map to improve health outcomes.

OHA is developing a similar report on the health of Native Hawaiian women, slated for release in May 2018, which coincides with Women’s Health Month.

To view Kānehōʻālani: Transforming the Health of Native Hawaiian Men, please visit https://www.oha.org/kanehealth.

Manaʻo on the report:

Kamana‘opono Crabbe, OHA Ka Pouhana/Chief Executive Officer

The Kanehoalani Native Hawaiian Men’s Health Report is the first ever focus on Hawaiian men’s health that looks at compiling medical, health, chronic diseases, behavioral health, some of the more socio-economic challenges, but also taking a look from a cultural lens to paint a clearer picture of Native Hawaiian men’s health issues among our kāne.

OHA’s role was really to accumulate the data from Department of Health. They release the results to the public but they don’t disaggregate it, they don’t break it down by ethnic group or gender so we had to do that. It was a multiyear process to get that information and once we were able to obtain the data files we were able to distill it down into our own analysis. So the reason why that’s important is so we can provide it back to the community for those who want to pursue grants, projects or programs focusing on Native Hawaiian men’s health.

We also helped in putting the report together through our staff in terms of doing the cover layout, the report tables and putting it together and then publishing it. The advantages to that is that we have resources to do that, to support the community, and it’s also perhaps maybe shows the different pathways in which OHA’s research now can benefit the community in providing these kinds of research projects.

Michael Broderick, former family court judge and current President and Chief Executive Officer of YMCA of Honolulu

I think there are a lot of people in Hawaiʻi who are in denial about the numbers, and about the data, and about the disproportionate impact that the justice system has on Native Hawaiians.

This report verifies what a number of people thought for many years, but now we know for sure, for example, that Native Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in prison.

I think from a judge perspective… Judges, I think, often have unconscious biases. And it’s unconscious so that means they’re not aware of it, which I think contributes to the disproportionate number of Hawaiians in prison and I think a report like this will get the attention of the criminal justice system so they can then be introspective about changes they might make personally and systematically to address the issue.

Keola Chan, ‘Aha Kāne Foundation Executive Director

That’s what this data is looking at, really telling our story, again when you look at the report, it’s really looking at it from historical, pre-contact, you know, what were the strengths of our kāne? What roles did they play and what happened to us because we were not always like this?

It’s nice to know that someone is sick but what caused the sickness is what you’re going after.

It’s understanding it for what it is but understanding there’s a larger story whether you want to talk about historical trauma or generational trauma you can’t just tell the current day story, that there’s a longer piece that contributed to what we are seeing.

It may not be in the data that we collected but it’s in the story of what made healthy males back in those days. They had a connection to spirituality, and had a role and a responsibility to their ʻāina. So if we’re looking to restore health and well-being today then you have to have those facets and you have to start talking about how do you get our kanaka back on our ʻāina again? How can we get access to cultivating fresh food? How do we cultivate hoʻoponopono so that families have access to that kind of services?

Dr. Noa Emmett Aluli

This kind of research lays it out clearly from analyzing the statistics and putting together the present to the past culturally and looking forward to where we can go together collectively.

This kind of report is important because you can understand it, it’s not just a university report.

This report is encouraging because it gives us power to make change or to bring improvements in a collective way with our aliʻi, with our professionals, with our educators, with our politicians. It’s encouraging in light of the political time now, we need to kind of be more proactive, that we don’t digress, that we can actually just get excited about our next generation and improving their health conditions and passing on that legacy that many of us have worked on for a long time.

Keoki Noji, Chief Operating Officer with Hawaiʻi Alliance for Community Based Economic Development

We’re a really small nonprofit intermediary so we help a lot of other small nonprofits and organizations and that entails working with them and writing grants sometimes, and I think this report could be very useful in terms of helping them to write grants.

For example, we’re working with an organization right now that works with young men in Kohala and using this data would be really great to help them collect funding, whether it be from state organizations or national funders.

This kind of data is really hard to find especially specifically for Native Hawaiians and Native Hawaiian men. The harder to find data… they were talking about things like commute times or recidivism and things like that really specific data is impossible to find so I think this data would be really helpful in that sense.

I think in general I really like the direction that qualitative and quantitative data is goin. I think in the past it’s been just all qualitative data and I think more people are coming around to the idea that both qualitative and quantitative data together is more meaningful and just kind of a more complete holistic picture.”

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