• Breaking News

  • Hawaii Island Energy Coop
  • World Botanical Garden
  • Dolphin Quest Waikoloa
  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental
  • RSS Mayor Kenoi’s Blog

  • Say When

    December 2015
    S M T W T F S
    « Nov    
  • When

  • RSS World Wide Ed

  • RSS Pulpconnection

Hilo Symposium on Marine Debris & Tsunami Driftage

Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund (HWF) & World Ocean Collective (WOC) are excited to announce their upcoming symposium in Hilo, Hawai‘i. The 2015 Hilo Symposium on Marine Debris & Tsunami Driftage:

Dialogue on marine debris removal, prevention, disaster recovery and making connections around the North Pacific. It will take place from December 3rd to 5th, 2015 at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)’s Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo.

Tsunami Boat in Kahana Bay

This international symposium will be a 2-day endeavor, followed by an optional beach cleanup event hosted by HWF at Kamilo Point, Ka’ū District, Hawai’i Island on the 3rd day (Saturday, Dec. 5).

HWF will work together with local marine debris partners (including Surfrider Foundation, Kōkua Hawaii Foundation, Sustainable Coastlines, NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, and DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources), groups from the Pacific Northwest (Washington CoastSavers, SOLVE Oregon, Lion’s Club Int’l), and Japan (Japan Environmental Action Network “JEAN”, Sea Beautification Society) to achieve the following goals:

The underlying purpose of these events is to work with local and int’l government and non-profit partners from around the North Pacific to:

  • Share effective recovery and removal techniques
  • Spread the word about tsunami and disaster preparedness
  • Share updates and new information about ongoing marine debris prevention work
  • Make connections and work together to reduce the amount of marine debris in our world’s oceans and waterways.

Working with members of the international marine debris removal community, Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund and the newly formed World Ocean Collection would like to showcase the work of non-profit and agency partners around the Pacific shorelines (Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, Hawaiʻi, Japan) that has been accomplished in response to the March 11th, 2011 earthquake and tsunami tragedy in East Japan.

HWF and WOC will use the tsunami driftage articles that have washed ashore in the Pacific Basin as a stimulus for discussions on marine debris removal and prevention, including the new international connections that have been formed via the returning of personal belongings and holding international symposia.  JEAN organized a similar meeting in Honolulu (Jan 2012) and more recently in Vancouver, British Columbia (Oct 2014) and Natori, Japan (Nov 2014).

“We are looking forward to a productive time with our partners in the field of marine debris recovery”, said Hannah Bernard, HWF Executive Director. “This global problem is one that can only be solved by global cooperation and we are proud that Megan Lamson, our Marine Debris Project Coordinator has initiated the first such symposium wholly sponsored by a Hawaiʻi- based non profit”.

Confirmed Dengue Fever Cases on Hawaii Island Rises to 112

The Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island continues and the total confirmed amount of cases has risen by 5 more cases since the last update bringing the total amount of confirmed cases to 112.

Mosquito Bite

As of November 30, 2015*:

Hawaii Island residents 98
Visitors 14
Confirmed cases, TOTAL 112

Of the confirmed cases, 98 are Hawaii Island residents and 14 are visitors.
86 cases have been adults; 26 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 11/20/15.

As of today, a total of 262 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

For a map of potential areas of infection by mosquito for confirmed dengue fever cases, click HERE**. (Updated November 25, 2015)

Support for Proposed Merger of NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Industries Grows

NextEra Energy, Inc. and Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. today announced that support for the companies’ proposed merger continues to grow at a steady pace, as evidenced by the more than 25 diverse groups that in recent weeks have voiced support for the transaction.

NextEra Logo

“As we continue to listen, learn and constructively engage with customers and communities throughout the state, we are extremely pleased to see so many diverse and important stakeholders – from organized labor such as the AFL-CIO and IBEW to business leaders and organizations including multiple chambers of commerce – all echo their support in recognition of the significant and tangible benefits this merger will bring to Hawaii,” said Eric Gleason, president of NextEra Energy Hawaii. “The support we have received from these organizations, alongside our recent agreements with the Department of Defense and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, further strengthens our belief that NextEra Energy is the right partner to help Hawaiian Electric achieve Hawaii’s 100 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2045, while integrating more rooftop solar, modernizing the electric grids and lowering customer bills.”

“We are thankful and pleased to see so many Hawaii residents and local groups across our state publicly lend their support for the merger of NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric’s president and chief executive officer. “With its comprehensive commitments to our customers and our communities, NextEra Energy stands ready to be a strong, long-term partner as we work together to build a more affordable, clean energy future for Hawaii.”

The following chambers of commerce, labor unions, local companies and community organizations have voiced support for the proposed merger in recent weeks:

  • Hawaii State AFL-CIO
  • Hawaii Construction Alliance
  • Building Industry Association (BIA) – Hawaii
  • International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1
  • Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters
  • Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Local 630
  • Chamber of Commerce Hawaii
  • Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce
  • Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii
  • Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii
  • Hawaii Korean Chamber of Commerce
  • Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii
  • Kauai Chamber of Commerce
  • Kapolei Chamber of Commerce
  • Molokai Chamber of Commerce
  • Hunt Companies
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1186
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1260
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1357
  • KTA Superstores
  • L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
  • Makai Ocean Engineering
  • Nalo Farms
  • Navy League Honolulu Council
  • Pacific Resource Partnership
  • Partners in Development
  • Stanford Carr Development
  • United Public Workers Local 646
  • Waianae Coast Community Foundation

Victim in Fatal Thanksgiving Crash Identified as Destanie Renon

The female victim of a fatal single-vehicle accident that occurred in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Thursday night has been identified as 23-year-old Destanie Renon of Waikoloa.

Destanie Renon

Destanie Renon

National Park Service rangers are seeking witnesses to the crash which happened on Highway 11 between mile marker 30 and the Pi‘i Mauna Drive intersection in the park around 9:38 p.m. on Thurs., Nov. 26.

Renon was traveling south on Highway 11 in a 1992 Honda sedan, and was ejected from the vehicle after she crashed into a cluster of large ‘ōhi‘a trees.  Park rangers and County of Hawai‘i rescue personnel determined Renon did not survive, and her body was transported to Hilo Medical Center.

The cause of the accident is unknown, and an investigation is underway.

Anyone with information regarding this accident is asked to call Park Dispatch at (808) 985-6170.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

International Space Station

It will be visible beginning tonight, Sunday, November 29, at 7:07 PM. It will be visible for approximately 3 minutes.  It will appear 10 degrees above the Southwest part of the sky and disappear 62 degrees above South Southwest.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Seek Witnesses to Fatal Car Crash

National Park Service rangers are seeking witnesses to a fatal single-vehicle accident that occurred on Highway 11 near mile marker 30 and the Pi‘i Mauna Drive intersection in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Thursday night.

volcano car crashAt approximately 9:38 p.m., a female driver traveling south on Highway 11 crashed into a cluster of large ‘ōhi‘a trees and was ejected from the vehicle, a 1992 Honda sedan. Park rangers and County of Hawai‘i rescue personnel determined the victim did not survive, and her body was transported to Hilo Medical Center.

The identification of the victim is unknown, and an investigation is underway.

Anyone with information regarding the accident is asked to call Park Dispatch at (808) 985-6170.


Video – How the Hawaii Department of Health Investigates Dengue Fever

Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) epidemiology specialist and field investigator Joe Elm gives an overview of the steps taken in a dengue fever investigation.

Presentation – Understanding the Dynamics of Human Trafficking in Hawaii

The Zonta Club of Hilo is hosting a presentation by Kathy Xian, Executive Director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, on understanding the dynamics of human trafficking in Hawaii on Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 at the Hilo Women’s Club located at 7 Lele Street from 5:30 – 7:30.

The free, public presentation is part of the Zonta Says NO 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence—an international campaign that aims to inspire action and end violence against women and girls around the world.

16 Days of Activism kicked off on Nov. 25 (International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women) and ends on Dec. 10 (Human Rights Day).

  • WHO: Kathryn Xian, Executive Director of The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS)
  • WHAT: “Understanding the Dynamics of Human Trafficking in Hawaii” Presentation

kathy xian

NOTE: Presentation is free and open to the public. Zonta Club of Hilo president, Tonya Ozone, and Zonta Says NO Hilo campaign chair, Ashley Kierkiewicz, will be present and available for remarks.

In addition, Zonta Hilo has teamed up with local businesses to host shoe displays geared towards increasing awareness of gender-based violence. Each display includes a pair of shoes, “Who will be next?” poster, domestic violence survivor quote and resource cards. To date, 12 businesses have agreed to host a display for the duration of the 16 Days of Activism. A limited number of displays are left; interested individuals should contact Ashley Kierkiewicz at (808) 989-4004 or by emailing alk@hastingsandpleadwell.com.

Confirmed Cases of Dengue Fever Rises to 107 on the Big Island of Hawaii

As of November 26, 2015*:

Hawaii Island residents 93
Visitors 14
Confirmed cases, TOTAL 107

Of the confirmed cases, 93 are Hawaii residents and 14 are visitors.
83 cases have been adults; twenty-four have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 11/18/15.

Mosquito Bite

As of today, a total of 230 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

For a map of potential areas of infection by mosquito for confirmed dengue fever cases, click HERE**. (Updated November 25, 2015)

Lava Erupts at Second Vent at Pu’u O’o Crater

Lava continues to erupt for a second day onto the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater.

112515Thermal webcams show lava continuing to erupt onto the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater.


A small amount of lava began to erupt from a second vent within the crater this morning, and flows from both vents are confined to the crater.

County Council to Hold Special Meeting to Discuss Dengue Fever Outbreak

A special County Council meeting to discuss the Dengue Fever Outbreak will take place on December 2, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers in Hilo at 25 Aupuni Street.

Mosquito Bite

Public testimony will be allowed directly after presentations from the following:

  • Hawai‘i County Civil Defense
  • Office of the Governor
  • Hawai‘i State House of Representatives
  • Hawai‘i State Senate
  • State Department of Health

Public attendance will be available at:

  • Kona Council Office, West Hawai‘i Civic Center, 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Kailua-Kona
  • Waimea Council Office, Holomua Center, 64-1067 Māmalahoa Highway, Suite 5, Waimea
  • Conference Room adjacent to Hisaoka Gymnasium, Kamehameha Park Complex, 54-382 Kamehameha Park Road, Kapaau
  • Nā‘ālehu State Office Building, 95-5669 Māmalahoa Highway, Nā‘ālehu
  • Pāhoa Neighborhood Facility, 15-2710 Kauhale Street.

Live stream viewing will be available by using this link:  http://hawaiicounty.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=1

101 Confirmed Cases of Dengue Fever – CDC Official to Visit Big Island

As of November 25, 2015 there were 101 confirmed cases of Dengue Fever reported on the Big Island:

Hawaii Island residents 88
Visitors 13
Confirmed cases, TOTAL 101

Of the confirmed cases, 88 are Hawaii residents and 13 are visitors.
78 cases have been adults; twenty-three have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 11/17/15.

As of today, a total of 190 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

101According to the Hawaii Tribune, an official from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) will be coming to the Big Island on Tuesday of next week:

“…a top CDC official is set to arrive on island next week to assess the handling of the outbreak here.

Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, will vet containment efforts and share his analysis with county and state officials during his visit, confirmed Gov. David Ige’s communications director Cindy McMillan.

“(Petersen) will evaluate ongoing efforts based on his visit and analysis of the most current data being captured on a daily basis,” McMillan said.”

World of Magic at the Hilo Palace Theater

The Hilo Elks Lodge 759 will present its annual World of Magic show from 11am to 12:30pm at downtown Hilo’s Palace Theater on Sunday, December 6.

world of magic

This year’s special performer will be international award magician Bruce Meyers. Based in Hawaii and Washington, Bruce’s masterful stage presence and his warm, benevolent, and funny personality quickly connects with his audience, compelling them to become part of the fun, wonder and magic.

Together with wife and long-time stage partner Jennifer, the Meyers will fill Hilo’s Palace Theater with astonishing wonder. They will perform ancient magic from India such as the Basket of Immortality. It will feature aerial dancer Luna Sophia as she ascends from the basket to perform her beautiful aerial silk artistry.

During the show, Bruce may ask the audience to hold on tight to a solid oak table as it floats around the stage, shower them with real flowers, or, if they’re not careful, perhaps dozens of eggs.

“The noblest art is that of making others happy. That’s real magic. It’s what we do” said the Meyers. As the Magician of the Year by the Northwest Ring of Fire in Seattle, Comedy Magician of the Year in Vancouver, Canada, and 1st Place In Stage by the Pacific Coast Association of Magicians, Bruce and company will spread happiness and joy to remind the audiences that, despite all of its faults, the world is still a breathtaking, beautiful, and mysterious place.

At the end of the show, expect Santa to make a special appearance.

Sponsored by the Elks National Foundation and community members, admissions to this performance is free, and donations are welcome.

For more information, please contact Lily at the Hilo Elks 935-1717.

93 Confirmed Cases of Dengue Fever – More Community Meetings Scheduled

This is a Dengue Fever information update for Tuesday November 24th at 2:15PM.

The State Department of Health continues to work with other state and county agencies on the issue of the Dengue Fever outbreak. As of 10:00 this morning the Department of Health has reported 93 confirmed cases originating on Hawaii Island. These cases include 80 residents and 13 visitors.

Mosquito Bite

Community Information Meetings on the Dengue outbreak will be conducted at the following locations:

  • Tonight at 6:30 PM at the Mountain View School Cafeteria
  • Friday November 27th at 6:00PM at the Ocean View Community Center
  • Monday November 30th at 6:00PM at the Waimea Middle School Cafeteria
  • Tuesday December 1st at 6:30PM at the Kohala High School Cafeteria
  • Thursday December 3rd at 6:30 at the Pahoa High School Cafeteria

Lava Erupts Onto Floor of Pu’u O’o Crater

Lava began to erupt onto the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater at about 6 a.m. this morning. At the summit the lava lake is still active.

lava 1124

A section of the northern rim and wall of the summit vent collapsed at around 2:30 this morning causing increased pond spattering and turbulence. Low levels of seismic activity continue across the volcano.

Summit Observations: The summit lava lake remains active, and seismic tremor continues with episodic bursts associated with spattering within the Overlook vent. A Very Long Period earthquake at the summit at around 2:30 this morning corresponded to the collapse of a large section of the northern rim and wall of the summit vent. This caused increased pond spattering and turbulence.

lava 11241

The depth to the surface of the lava within the overlook vent has been approximately 40-50 m (135-165 ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u over the past day. In general, seismicity remains at low levels. Summit sulfur dioxide emission rates averaged around 4,000 metric tons/day for the past week.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: Lava began to erupt from a vent within Pu`u `O`o onto the floor of the crater at about 6 a.m. this morning and continues at the time of this report.

Big Island Company Recognized in OUTSIDE’s Best Places to Work 2015

Hawaii Forest & Trail is the only company from the state of Hawaii to have been selected as one of OUTSIDE’s Best Places to Work 2015. Each year, OUTSIDE recognizes the top 100 companies in the United States that help their employees strike the ideal balance between work and play. These companies encourage employees to lead an active lifestyle, are eco-conscious, and prioritize giving back to the community.

Hawaii Forest and Trail President Rob Pacheco interprets the geology of Hualalai.  Photo PF Bentley

Hawaii Forest and Trail President Rob Pacheco interprets the geology of Hualalai. Photo PF Bentley

This prestigious recognition by OUTSIDE magazine as one of the best places to work across the country is truly an honor. When we started Hawaii Forest & Trail in 1992, my wife Cindy and I made a commitment to build our business around the concept of ohana, or family, where we foster connections between our co-worker ohana and the natural world. It’s what we strive for,” said Hawaii Forest & Trail President Rob Pacheco.

“The companies recognized in this year’s Best Places to Work list are the gold standard for stellar work environments that seek to empower their employees both in and out of the office,” said OUTSIDE Online Editor Scott Rosenfield. “The new categories in this year’s list serve to highlight outstanding workplaces in distinctive fields-making it all the easier for our readers to find their dream jobs.”

What Makes Hawaii Forest & Trail A Great Place to Work?

When Rob and Cindy Pacheco founded Hawaii Forest & Trail in the garage of their house, they never dreamed their tour operation would grow to have more than 50 employees at 3 locations on Hawaii Island. The secret to their success has always been finding employees who share their passion for the outdoors, for each other and their island home.

As the company continues to grow, Hawaii Forest & Trail emphasizes the cultivation of close personal connections and provides employees with new opportunities. Just recently Hawaii Forest & Trail launched its “Ohana and Natural Resources Department” where the primary focus is to develop staff education opportunities, conservation partnerships, and community involvement. Initiatives developed by this department include staff BBQs, group volunteer programs, ongoing educational lectures from natural and cultural experts, and an invitation to participate in community hikes. These opportunities for personal growth coupled with the company’s unparalleled access to some of Hawaii Island’s most beautiful natural sites make working at Hawaii Forest & Trail a dream job for many of Hawaii’s outdoor enthusiasts.

Hawaii Forest & Trail also believes in kuleana and acts on that sense of responsibility by providing a strong package of staff benefits that includes healthcare, a 401K matching plan, paid vacation time, and comp tickets on any of their adventures.

“We strongly believe that to be the best at what we do, we have to compete for the best candidates every time we hire,” said Director of Sales and Marketing Jason Cohn. With all their employee perks it’s no wonder Hawaii Forest & Trail has managed to retain their first full-time guide and first full-time dispatcher who both still remember showing up to clock-in at Rob and Cindy’s house more than 17 years ago.

To find the best places to work in the United States in 2015, OUTSIDE started by creating five company categories that reflect the magazine’s values and focus: Adventure/Travel, Wellness, Culture, Gear, and Media. OUTSIDE then conducted a rigorous vetting process in partnership with the Best Companies Group to assess the policies, practices, and demographics of hundreds of companies. Outside’s Best Places to Work 2015 was driven by employee reviews of their workplaces, taking into account factors like corporate culture, role satisfaction, work environment and overall employee engagement. The Best Places to Work list represents the cream of the crop: companies that are empowering their employees to live bigger, better lives.

The complete list of Best Places to Work winners is featured online at www.outsideonline.com/dreamjobs

Worldwide Travel Alert Issued by U.S. State Department

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats. Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions.  These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests.  This Travel Alert expires on February 24, 2016.

Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq.  Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis.  Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services.  In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali.  ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.

U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation.  Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowed places.  Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.  U.S. citizens should monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.  Persons with specific safety concerns should contact local law enforcement authorities who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country.  U.S. citizens should:

  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.  Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Foreign governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions.  Authorities continue to conduct raids and disrupt terror plots.  We continue to work closely with our allies on the threat from international terrorism.  Information is routinely shared between the United States and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.

Dengue Fever Update – 92 Confirmed Cases, 143 Potential Cases Excluded

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) is investigating a cluster of locally-acquired cases of dengue fever on Hawaii Island. Dengue is not endemic to Hawaii. However, it is intermittently imported from endemic areas by infected travelers. This is the first cluster of locally-acquired dengue fever since the 2011 outbreak on Oahu.

The mosquitoes that can transmit dengue fever

The mosquitoes that can transmit dengue fever

As of November 23, 2015*:

Hawaii Island residents 79
Visitors 13
Confirmed cases, TOTAL 92

Of the confirmed cases, 79 are Hawaii residents and 13 are visitors.
70 cases have been adults; twenty-tw0 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 11/17/15.

As of today, a total of 143 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

For a map of potential areas of infection by mosquito for confirmed dengue fever cases, click HERE**. (Updated November 18, 2015)

HDOH continues to routinely monitor for cases of imported dengue infection on ALL islands and will continue to have Vector Control perform mosquito site assessments and abatement as needed.  Since the beginning of our current investigation on Hawaii island, one imported dengue fever case has been confirmed (on Oahu). This case is not associated with the Hawaii island investigation.

Dengue Fever and Mosquitoes — Information and Resources

Fight the Bite Fact Sheet
Fight the Bite Flyer
Frequently Asked Questions (11/18/2015)
Letter to Hawaii Island Residents and Visitors
Bug Off! Using Mosquito Repellants
Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Sites (11”x17”)
CDC Mosquito Control

Dengue Fever Brochures


Call Aloha United Way 2-1-1 for general information about dengue fever and the current Big Island dengue investigation.

To report a suspect case, contact:

  • On the Big Island: 808-974-6001 (East Hawaii) or 808-322-4880 (West Hawaii)
  • On other islands: DOH Disease Outbreak Control Division at 808-586-4586.

To report mosquito concerns, contact:

  • On the Big Island: 808-974-6001 (East Hawaii) or 808-322-4880 (West Hawaii)
  • On Oahu: 808-586-8021, on Maui: 808-873-3560, on Kauai: 808-241-3306

If you are ill and are worried that you might have dengue fever, contact your healthcare provider.

Clinicians: for updates go to http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/updates-and-resources-for-clinicians/

*Updates to case counts, when available, will be posted Monday-Friday by 1:00 p.m. HST

**Updates to the map, when available, will be posted Wednesday by 1:00 p.m. HST

60% of Hawaii Adults Living With at Least One Chronic Disease

Dr. Howard Koh, former Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other national experts in chronic disease prevention joined the Department of Health and local experts today at a symposium, “The Weight of the State: Solving the Chronic Disease Crisis through Innovative Policy Change.”

Weigh of Hawaii

The event focused on shared best practices and policy priorities that are relevant for Hawaii, given the state’s rapidly rising obesity rates and its contribution to developing debilitating chronic health conditions.

“Our state is facing an epidemic of obesity and diabetes type 2 that is preventable, and costly to our health and pocket books,” said Director of Health Virginia Pressler. “We need to work collaboratively with leaders across every sector of society if we want to reduce this unnecessary burden on our people and economy.”

Dr. Koh explained in his keynote address that health is shaped by the policies, conditions, and environments in which people live, labor, learn, play, and pray. Over 100 elected officials, leadership from state agencies, healthcare and community organizations attended the symposium.

More than 60 percent of Hawaii adults or 3 in 5 are living with at least one chronic disease or condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. Obesity is associated with a significantly increased risk of preventable chronic disease. Obesity has doubled in the past 15 years, and we are now seeing similar trends with diabetes rates.

The Department of Health reported that when data is adjusted for age and awareness, the rates of pre-diabetes and diabetes in Hawaii correspond to rates of obesity. Forty-two percent of Native Hawaiians and 49 percent of Other Pacific Islanders are obese, and 25 percent and 27 percent respectively are estimated to have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Additionally, Hawaii spends an estimated $470 million on obesity-related medical costs and $770 million on diabetes-related medical costs annually. These figures do not account for indirect costs such as reduced worker productivity and absenteeism that results from having one or more of these diseases or conditions.

A mural developed with input by over 30 organizations statewide was also unveiled at the symposium. The policies illustrated were highly recommended by more than 140 community partners who participated in the 2015 Physical Activity and Nutrition (PAN) Forum, which took place in May.

Health Policies

This mural, called “Healthy Policies for a Healthy Hawaii,” depicts the implementation of 19 state-level policies across four sectors of society: Communities, Worksites, Schools, and Health Care Systems.

It is a vision for Hawaii where physical activity and access to healthy food, are integrated into our daily lifestyle choices, where residents live, learn, work, shop, and care for each other. Health is integrated into the social, economic, and physical landscape. The illustrated policies include: creating “complete streets” to ensure that all people in Hawaii have the ability to safely walk, bike, and access mass transportation; fostering a more robust local food system to reduce imports and producing more locally produced foods; institutional policies to access healthier food and beverage options; increasing health and physical education requirements for middle school students; and many others.

“It’s been amazing to see partners from all sectors come together and identify solutions to the complex issue of obesity and chronic disease prevention,” said Jessica Yamauchi, Chair of the Obesity Prevention Taskforce. “This mural provides a sense of place and what a health promoting community looks and feels like when these recommendations are in place.”

To learn more about the policy recommendations of the PAN Forum, please visit: http://health.hawaii.gov/chronic-disease/events.

TOMORROW – Free Thanksgiving Luncheon For the People of Puna

A FREE Thanksgiving luncheon will be held for the Puna Community tomorrow at the Pahoa Community Center.

Thanksgivng 2015Sponsors and members from Hope Services Hawaii, Aloha Lehua Cafe, Kalapana Mauna Kea Church and Puna New Hope will be providing free thanksgiving dinners from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.