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State Department of Health to Hold Public Hearings for New Food Safety Rules

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) will hold public hearings in all counties between Dec. 2 and 6, 2013, to introduce new food safety regulations that will affect all restaurants and food establishments in the state. The last substantial change to these rules was made nearly 17 years ago in 1996.

Department of Health

Highlights of the new food safety rules include: adoption of the 2009 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Model Food Code as the basis for the rules; introduction of a highly visible restaurant grading system that will require food establishments to post the results of their last state inspection; move to annual permitting from biennial permitting; and permit fee increases.

“Adoption of the FDA Model Food Code will provide Hawaii with nationally recognized standards based on the most current scientific findings on food safety,” said Peter Oshiro, Sanitation Branch chief. “We look forward to enhancing our current state food regulations with these new and improved rules.”

The new grading system will consist of “PASS” (green), “CONDITIONAL PASS” (yellow), and “CLOSED” (red) placards. A “PASS” green placard will be given to food facilities that have one major violation or less that is corrected prior to completion of the inspection. A “CONDITIONAL PASS” yellow placard will be issued to a facility with two or more major violations during an inspection regardless of whether the violations are corrected on site. Major violations require a follow-up inspection. Follow-up inspections are conducted the next working day after notification from the facility that all major violations have been corrected. A “CLOSED” red placard will be issued if there are imminent health hazards that warrant immediate closure of the facility (lack of water, lack of electricity, sewage overflows in food preparation areas, sick employees, vermin infestation, etc.).

Major health inspection violations at food establishments are conditions that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA recognize as the main causes of food illnesses (lack of hand washing, poor temperature controls, and contamination by raw/uncooked foods, etc.)

It is anticipated that the fee increases outlined in the new food safety rules will fund 13 additional full-time inspector positions granted by the state Legislature to be filled in fiscal years 2012-2015. The additional staffing will support an expanded inspection schedule that will include a minimum of three on-site inspections each year for high-risk establishments, two on-site inspections each year for medium risk establishments, and annual visits for all other establishments to meet national program standards and reduce foodborne illness.

“The new food safety rules will mean a huge step forward for our program and will result in overall improvements by expanding food safety testing, pesticide monitoring of local produce, and shellfish monitoring, among many other activities that protect public health every day,” added Oshiro.

To view Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 11- 50, titled, “Food Safety Code,” go to http://health.hawaii.gov/san/. Public hearings will be held at the following dates and locations:

Hawaii (Hilo): Monday, Dec. 2, at 1 p.m.

Environmental Health Facility conference room (1582 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo)

Hawaii (Kona): Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 1 p.m.

West Hawaii Civic Center – Liquor Control conference room, 2nd Floor, Bldg. B

(74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy., Kailua-Kona)

Oahu: Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 1 p.m.

Environmental Management Division conference room, 5th Floor (919 Ala Moana Blvd.,

Honolulu)

Maui: Thursday, Dec. 5, at 1 p.m.

UH- Maui College Community Services Building (310 Kaahumanu Ave., Bldg. #205, Kahului)

Kauai: Friday, Dec. 6, at 1 p.m.

Lihue Health Center conference room (3040 Umi St., Lihue)

 

Stop Flu at School Program Begins Today

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) annual Stop Flu at School program begins today and will continue in more than 300 public, private, and charter schools statewide through Nov. 27, 2013. This is the seventh year for the voluntary program, which administers free flu vaccinations to Hawaii students in kindergarten through grade 8.

Flu Shot“Despite cutbacks in spending at all levels of government, we prioritized funding for this important program, which helps protect our children,” said Health Director Loretta Fuddy. “By reducing flu in our keiki, older adults in the household will have less exposure to the virus, so that fewer of them will get it. Ultimately, this cost-effective prevention program saves lives and reduces healthcare costs.”

To vaccinate more than 60,000 students during the six-week program, DOH will orchestrate a team of more than 1,000 clinic staff that include volunteers from the Hawaii Medical Reserve Corps, state Department of Defense, Kaiser Permanente, UH Hilo School of Pharmacy, nursing programs at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hawaii Pacific University, Kapiolani Community College, Chaminade University, UH Hilo, Kauai County Community College, and UH Maui College.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older.

“The Stop Flu at School program not only helps to protect the health of Hawaii students, it is an integral part of maintaining the state’s ability to respond to infectious disease emergencies like pandemic influenza,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist.

“Through this program, we are able to work with our many partners to practice and refine our mass vaccination plans.”

For more information about the Stop Flu at School program, go to http://flu.hawaii.gov/sfas.html or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1. The Stop Flu at School program is an innovative partnership between the State of Hawaii Departments of Health and Education, the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, and Hawaii Catholic Schools. The program is endorsed by the Hawaii Chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians and is made possible through funding received from the CDC and the Hawaii Association of Health Plans.

Department of Health Investigating Dietary/Nutritional Supplement in 10 Cases of Acute Liver Inflamation and Failure

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is investigating at least 10 cases of acute liver inflammation and failure that have occurred in the state from May through September 2013.  Thus far, the cases have been negative for infectious causes, have no history of engaging in high-risk social activities, and have no identified commonly expected risk factors for liver failure.

Department of Health

The only common finding among all the cases, at this point, is the use of a dietary or nutritional supplement for the purpose of weight loss and/or muscle gain in the past six months. Cases have been reported from every county in the state.

“We are still in the early stages of this investigation and we have not identified the exact source of this condition,” said Dr. Sarah Park, State Epidemiologist. “However, we want to alert the public because of our concern that more people could potentially become ill.”

DOH has issued a statewide Medical Advisory to clinicians, clinics, and emergency departments to facilitate identifying more possible cases. DOH is collaborating closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as the investigation may involve a federally regulated supplement with national distribution.

The department urges all persons who use dietary or nutritional supplements for weight loss and/or muscle gain to do so with caution and under their health care providers’ guidance and monitoring. Persons who develop symptoms, such as abdominal pain or discomfort, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and/or vomiting, and yellow skin or eyes, should consult their health care provider immediately.

DOH is responsible for monitoring, investigating, preventing, and controlling diseases of public health impact in Hawaii, as well as ensuring the state’s ability to respond to emergencies that threaten the public’s health.

Hawaii Receives $230,000 for Oral Disease Prevention

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Family Health Services Division (FHSD) recently received a State Oral Disease Prevention grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Department of Health

The aim of this grant program is to assist state health departments in improving the oral health of their state residents, in particular those children and adults who are most at risk for oral diseases such as tooth decay (cavities).

“With CDC support, the states receiving these awards will be better able to monitor their population’s oral health, identify priorities and target efforts, and expand activities aimed at preventing oral diseases among individuals, families, and communities,” stated Dr. William Bailey, DDS, MPH, Acting Director, CDC Division of Oral Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Hawaii is one of three states to receive $230,000 under the program’s entry-level component, “Basic Capacity for Collective Impact.”

The grants are renewable for up to five years. “The grant is an important step to help rebuild the department’s public dental health infrastructure,” said Health Director Loretta J. Fuddy. “Hawaii received a failing grade for children’s dental health in 2010 and 2011 from a national health policy review panel, meeting only one of eight benchmarks, and this assistance will aid ongoing efforts to turn that around.”

The funding is designed to improve basic state oral health services, including support for program leadership and additional staff, monitoring oral disease levels and risk factors for oral disease, developing strong partnerships, educating state residents on ways to prevent oral diseases, and developing and evaluating prevention programs.

 

Safeway Offering Free Flu Shots – Recipients Receive 10% Off Grocery Coupon

Safeway, Inc. is offering flu vaccines on a “walk-in” basis with no appointment needed at all Safeway pharmacies and through scheduled flu vaccination clinics at selected Safeway stores starting today. Safeway also provides flu clinics for businesses, senior centers and nursing homes that wish to provide their employees or residents with the convenience of receiving the flu vaccine where they work or live.

Flu Shot 10

“We want to make sure our patients and customers protect themselves and their families from the flu this year by getting their vaccination in our new Patient Care Wellness Centers. These state-of-the-art Wellness Centers offer the perfect environment to meet your immunization and other health and wellness needs,” said Michele Snider, Safeway’s Hawaii Director of Pharmacy Operations. “Everyone needs to be protected from the flu, and getting the flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu, stay well, and be more productive at home and at work. As an added bonus, everyone who gets the flu shot will receive a 10 percent Safeway grocery coupon.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months and older get their yearly flu vaccination as soon as the vaccine becomes available to maximize their protection from the flu. In addition, to avoid the risk of flu-related complications, the CDC stresses that it is important for people with chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or immunosuppressive conditions to receive a flu vaccination each year.

All Safeway pharmacies will have Fluzone HD, a high-dose flu shot available for patients aged 65 years and older, as well as regular-strength and preservative-free vaccines. Businesses or organizations that desire an on-site clinic should call Stan Leung at 925-467-2630 to schedule an appointment.

Flu shots are available at the following Safeway Pharmacies in Hawaii during pharmacy business hours on a walk-in basis.  No appointments required.  In addition, Safeway Pharmacies are now able to provide flu shots for people ages 14-17 if they provide a prescription for the flu shot.

Kauai

  • Kapaa, 4-831 Kuhio Highway – 808-822-2191Oahu

Honolulu

  • 1234 South Beretania Street – 808-535-1785
  • 888 Kapahulu Avenue – 808-733-2606
  • Kailua 200 Hamakua Drive – 808-266-5220
  • Ewa Beach 91-1119 Keaunui Drive – 808-683-3205

Maui

  • Kahului 170 E. Kamehameha Avenue – 808-893-0606
  • Kihei 277 Piikea Avenue – 808-891-9130
  • Wailuku (Grand Opening September 20, 2013) 58 Maui Lani Parkway – 808-243-3527

Big Island

  • Hilo 381 East Makaala Street – 808-920-8874
  • Kona 15-1027 Henry Street – 808-329-2207

Information about stores offering the flu vaccine can be found at www.safeway.com/flu or by contacting your local Safeway store. Safeway is able to bill Medicare B, HMSA, HMAA and UHA participants at no charge, as well as some HMA participants at a small co-pay amount.

Tomorrow: Free Hepatitis Screenings Available to the Public – National Hepatitis Testing Day

National Hepatitis Testing Day will be observed in Hawaii on Monday, May 20, 2013. In collaboration with Hep Free Hawaii, Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) clinics and other community-based sites are offering free hepatitis screenings to the public on May 20 to encourage people to find out their hepatitis B and C status. National Hepatitis Testing Day events will also help to raise awareness within communities and remind people with insurance to get tested through their primary care provider.

Hepatitis Testing

“Often called the silent epidemic, most people with hepatitis B or C don’t have symptoms for many years,” stated Health Director Loretta Fuddy, A.C.S.W., M.P.H. “People with hepatitis B and C shouldn’t wait until they feel sick to be tested because there are many things, including treatment, they can do to take care of themselves before they become ill. The earlier people know they have hepatitis, the better the outcome.”

According to DOH Immunization Branch estimates, between 1 and 3 percent of people in Hawaii have hepatitis B, and approximately 23,000 are living with hepatitis C. Hepatitis B and C are the most common known causes of liver cancer in Hawaii, and Hawaii has the highest rate of liver cancer in the United States.

Hepatitis B and C are spread through contact with blood and body fluids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that anyone who has been exposed to blood through needle use, blood transfusion, non-sterile equipment, or tattooing should be tested for both hepatitis B and C. Anyone born in a country with high rates of hepatitis B, especially countries in Asia and the Pacific should be screened for hepatitis B. Anyone born from 1945-1965 (“baby boomers”) should also get a one-time test for hepatitis C, regardless of any known risk.

“If you are at risk, you should ask your doctor to get tested for hepatitis B or C. Putting off this simple test now can have dangerous health implications later on, such as liver disease and cancer,” said Fuddy.

Individuals without insurance may call Aloha United Way 211 or go to www.hepfreehawaii.org to find the free screening location nearest them (flyer attached). Not all sites will offer hepatitis B testing. Testing will be based on eligibility and availability at each site.

For more information about National Hepatitis Testing Day, go to www.cdcnpin.org/HTD.

For more information about hepatitis resources and events in Hawaii, go to www.hepfreehawaii.org.

Hawaii Department of Health Sending Avian Influenza Medical Advisory to Local Healthcare Providers

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has sent a medical advisory to local healthcare providers advising that Chinese public health officials have reported cases of a novel avian influenza A (H7N9) virus detected in humans. As of today, 16 cases have been confirmed in people from four different provinces in China. No cases have been reported in Hawaii or the mainland United States at this time.

Bird Flu

The DOH Disease Outbreak Control Division (DOCD), State Laboratories Division, and CDC Honolulu Quarantine Station are working together to follow the situation closely. “While it is not yet known how people have become infected with influenza A (H7N9), the public is always advised to follow proper hygiene including washing hands, covering coughs, and staying home when ill,” said Dr. Sarah Park, State Epidemiologist.“ Additionally, persons who become ill after travel to China are asked to notify their physician or healthcare provider.”

Influenza A H7 viruses are normally found among birds. Occasionally, H7 viruses have been found to infect humans, but no human infections with H7N9 have been reported until these recent reports from China.  At this time, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.

For more information, go to the DOH DOCD web page: http://hawaii.gov/health/DOCD/index.html

National Report: Hawaii Ranks 5th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Hawaii ranks 5th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS LOGO

Hawaii currently spends $8.9 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 58.8 percent of the $15.2 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Hawaii include:

Hawaii this year will collect $186 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 4.8 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Hawaii is spending less than 5 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.

The tobacco companies spend $24.7 million a year to market their products in Hawaii. This is 3 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled “Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 Years Later,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

Hawaii has been a leader in the fight against tobacco with a high cigarette tax ($3.20 per pack), a strong smoke-free workplace law and its tobacco prevention and cessation program. However, the state this year cut funding for tobacco prevention by 17 percent. Hawaii has one of the lowest high school smoking rates in the nation at 10.1 percent, compared to 18.1 percent who smoke nationally.

“Hawaii has been a leader in the fight against tobacco, but needs to sustain its commitment to tobacco prevention in order to continue making progress,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment for Hawaii that protects kids, saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.”

In Hawaii, 1,500 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 1,100 lives and costs the state $336 million in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings include:

The states this year will collect $25.7 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8 percent of it – $459.5 million – on tobacco prevention programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.

States are falling woefully short of the CDC’s recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states have budgeted just 12.4 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends.

Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.

As the nation implements health care reform, the report warns that states are missing a golden opportunity to reduce tobacco-related health care costs, which total $96 billion a year in the U.S. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people each year

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements .

 

 

Hawaii County Police Increasing DUI Checkpoints This Week in Conjunction With Halloween

Children of all ages look forward to Halloween but police want to keep them safe to enjoy the fun. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly four times as many children ages 5-14, are killed while walking on Halloween evening than other times of the year.

Hawaiʻi County police will increase DUI checkpoints and roving patrols this week in conjunction with Halloween. The effort is part of a national and statewide campaign called “Drive sober or get pulled over.”

Sergeant Robert P. Pauole, head of the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s Traffic Services Section, pointed out that drugs, alcohol or both have been factors in at least 63 percent of the 35 traffic fatalities we’ve experienced so far this year. He urges all motorists to be extra cautious in the next few days, when a large number of pedestrians may be out for Halloween festivities.

“Be especially careful in residential areas by slowing down and looking for children on roadways, medians and curbs,” Pauole said. “If you plan to drink, please don’t drive. Make arrangements to ride with a designated, sober and licensed driver before you start drinking. If you can’t find one, don’t take a chance—take a taxi.”

Police offer the following additional tips for Halloween safety:

Motorists:

-Drive below the posted speed limit during trick-or-treating hours.
-Watch for keiki darting out from between parked cars.
-Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.

Parents:

-Accompany your keiki when they go trick-or-treating or make sure they are supervised by a responsible adult.
-Have your keiki trick-or-treat in a safe location (consider a local mall or community event).
-Make sure keiki are supervised as they cross the street.
-Have keiki get out of cars on the curb side, not on the traffic side.
-Carry flashlights and use reflective tape or stickers on bags and costumes for keiki to see and be seen.
-Avoid masks or costumes that limit a keiki’s vision or movement.
-Check all treats before letting your keiki eat them.

The Police Department wishes everyone a fun and safe Halloween.

Hawaii Department of Health Urges ALL Baby Boomers to Get Hepatitis C Screening

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) is echoing the recently released recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that all persons born in the United States between 1945 and 1965 (“baby boomers”) receive a one-time hepatitis C test.

DOH joins local agencies such as Hep Free Hawai‘i and others across the nation to help raise awareness and support for improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment for people at risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV), especially baby boomers.

“The CDC’s new, age-based HCV screening guidelines are an important step in ensuring quality health care for our communities. Often called the silent epidemic, most people with hepatitis C don’t have symptoms for many years and consequently don’t seek screening and treatment until they have liver disease or even liver cancer,” stated Thaddeus Pham, DOH Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator.

The CDC estimates that more than two million baby boomers have HCV, accounting for more than 75 percent of Americans living with this disease. People born from 1945 through 1965 currently are five times more likely to be infected than other adults. More than 15,000 Americans die of HCV annually, yet most people do not know that they have the disease because it is often asymptomatic. Offering a one-time HCV blood test to baby boomers could identify more than 800,000 additional people with HCV and save 12,000 lives.

Since 1998, the CDC has recommend HCV testing for anyone at high risk of infection. This group included anyone who has been exposed to blood through needle use, blood transfusion or organ transplant prior to 1992, or non-sterile equipment such as home tattoo needles. The CDC also recommends testing for healthcare, emergency medical, and public safety workers who have been exposed to HCV; babies born to HCV-positive mothers; and people living with HIV. The new recommendation includes all persons born between 1945 and 1965, regardless of whether they fall into these risk categories.

“Baby boomers in Hawai‘i shouldn’t wait until they feel sick to be tested because there are many things, including treatment, they can do to take care of themselves before they become ill. The earlier people know they have hepatitis, the better the outcome,” Pham said. The DOH recommends anyone who meets the CDC recommendations for hepatitis C screening go to their healthcare providers to get tested.

For more information on hepatitis B and C and for resources in Hawai‘i, individuals can call Aloha United Way 211 or go to www.hepfreehawaii.org. More information on hepatitis B and C is also available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis, or by calling 1-888-443-7232.

State Urges Testing for Hepatitis B and C in Honor of World Hepatitis Day

Governor Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Governor Brian Schatz have declared this Saturday, July 28, as Hepatitis Day in Hawai’i, coinciding with World Hepatitis Day. The proclamation recognizes the importance of hepatitis education and encourages testing for those at risk.

“Often called the silent epidemic, most people with hepatitis B or C don’t have symptoms for many years,” stated Thaddeus Pham, DOH Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator. “People with hepatitis B and C shouldn’t wait until they feel sick to be tested because there are many things, including treatment, they can do to take care of themselves before becoming ill.  The earlier people know they have hepatitis, the better the outcome.”

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH) is joining others across the nation and world to help raise awareness and support for improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment for people living with chronic viral hepatitis B and C.

According to DOH Immunization Branch estimates, 1 to 3 percent of people in Hawai’i have hepatitis B, and approximately 23,000 are living with hepatitis C. Hepatitis B and C are the most common known causes of liver cancer in Hawaiʻi, and Hawaiʻi has the highest rate of liver cancer in the United States.  “Many people with hepatitis B and C get liver damage or cirrhosis from the disease, which can be minimized by making healthy choices such as not drinking alcohol,” Pham said.

Hepatitis B and C are spread through contact with blood and body fluids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that anyone who has been exposed to blood through needle use, blood transfusion, non-sterile equipment, or tattooing should be tested for both hepatitis B and C. Anyone born in a country with high rates of hepatitis B, especially countries in Asia and the Pacific, should be screened for hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is easily spread from mother to child through contact with blood and other body fluids.

The DOH recommends anyone who may be at risk for hepatitis B and C to go to their healthcare providers to get tested. For those with little to no insurance, there are many DOH and community clinics statewide that offer free screenings to help people to find out their hepatitis B and C status. Individuals can call Aloha United Way 211 or go to www.hepfreehawaii.org to find the free screening location nearest them.

More information on hepatitis B and C is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis, or by calling 1-888-443-7232.

For more information about World Hepatitis Day, go to www.aminumber12.org.

National Hepatitis Testing Day Friday – Hawaii Department of Health Giving Away Free Shots

National Hepatitis Testing Day will be observed in Hawai’i on Friday, May 18, 2012.

In collaboration with Hep Free Hawai’i, the Hawai’i State Department of Health (DOH) clinics and other community-based sites are offering free hepatitis screenings to the public on Friday, May 18 to encourage people to find out their hepatitis B and C status. National Hepatitis Testing Day events will also help to raise awareness and support improvements in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment for people living with chronic viral hepatitis B and C.

“Often called the silent epidemic, most people with hepatitis B or C don’t have symptoms for many years,” stated Loretta Fuddy, A.C.S.W., M.P.H., DOH Director of Health. “People with hepatitis B and C shouldn’t wait until they feel sick to be tested because there are many things, including treatment, they can do to take care of themselves before they become ill. The earlier people know they have hepatitis, the better the outcome.”

According to DOH Immunization Branch estimates, 1 percent to 3 percent of people in Hawai’i have hepatitis B, and approximately 23,000 are living with hepatitis C. Hepatitis B and C are the most common known causes of liver cancer in Hawai’i, and Hawaii has the highest rate of liver cancer in the U.S. “Many people with hepatitis B and C get liver damage or cirrhosis from the disease, which can be minimized by making healthy choices such as not drinking alcohol,” said Fuddy.

Hepatitis B and C are spread through contact with blood and body fluids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that anyone who has been exposed to blood through needle use, blood transfusion, non-sterile equipment, or tattooing should be tested for both hepatitis B and C. Anyone born in a country with high rates of hepatitis B, especially countries in Asia and the Pacific, should be screened for hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is easily spread from mother to child through contact with blood and other body fluids.

Not all sites will offer hepatitis B testing. Individuals can call Aloha United Way 211 or go to www.hepfreehawaii.org to find the free screening location nearest them.

For more information about National Hepatitis Testing Day, go to www.cdcnpin.org/HTD. For more information about hepatitis resources and events in Hawai‘i, go to www.hepfreehawaii.org.

Advance Screening in Hilo of HBO Documentary The Weight of the Nation

WHAT:  ADVANCE SCREENING OF HBO DOCUMENTARY THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION –  Launching one of the most far-reaching public health campaigns on this epidemic to date. Event is made possible with the support and participation of:

  • HBO Documentary Films
  • Hawaii State Department of Health
  • The Institute of Medicine
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

WHEN: Friday, May 11, 2012,

  • 5:30 p.m. The Weight of the Nation Screening (Part 1: “Consequences”)
  • 6:30 p.m. Panel Discussion

WHERE:  The Palace Theater, 38 Haili Street, Hilo, HI 96720

The number of overweight children in the United States has doubled in the past 30 years, with similar patterns occurring in Hawaii. And the problem has only gotten worse. To address this rising concern, Kaiser Permanente is hosting an advance screening of The Weight of the Nation, helping launch one of the most far-reaching public health campaigns on this epidemic to date.

The Weight of the Nation is HBO’s four-part series featuring case studies and interviews with leading experts and with individuals and families struggling with obesity. Part 1 of the series, “Consequences,” which examines the scope of the obesity epidemic and explores the serious health consequences of being overweight or obese, will be screened. Following the screening, there will be a forum for the public to “Weigh-in” on the weight of Hawaii during a town hall-style discussion with local experts.

The goal of this event is to create continuing dialogue about improving the health of our community. Kaiser Permanente’s Community Health Initiatives for Healthy Eating Active Living support more than 40 obesity prevention collaboratives, which aim to increase access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity in schools, neighborhoods and workplaces.

Kaiser Permanente has partnered with HBO, the Institute of Medicine, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on The Weight of the Nation campaign.

The documentary series debuts on May 14, exclusively on HBO, and is comprised of four documentary films, a three-part HBO Family series, 14 bonus shorts, a social media campaign, a book published by St. Martin’s Press and a nationwide community-based outreach campaign. Further information on the series can be found at theweightofthenation.hbo.com.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/zYrOW_WGJj0]

For more information on Kaiser Permanente’s work in the community, visit www.kp.org/communitybenefit.

Department of Health Releases Influenza Educational Videos

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health announced the release of a new series of influenza education videos. Working in partnership with the Department of Education and private schools, the video series was developed with input from students and teachers as well as community pediatricians.

“The whole idea was to involve youth and see how we could help our educational partners inform kids about important health and science topics while having fun,” stated Dr. Sarah Y. Park, State Epidemiologist. “Working with the kids was amazing,” she added.

In the videos, students in grades 4–6 explore and explain various facts about influenza, “going viral,” flu prevention, and pandemic preparedness in a series of skits and real-world scenes.

Highlights include the Blue Flu Rap:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/NmpfNEFGeJg]

An interview with a local family caught overseas and falling ill during the early days of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/2NR7-7NrXRo]

The flu video release is a timely reminder of the importance of continuing flu vaccination during and after the holiday season, into January and beyond. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the annual flu vaccination.

Formore information about getting vaccinated, please talk to your healthcare provider. For a listing on where to get vaccinated, go to: http://hawaii.gov/health/flu-hawaiigov/Documents/flushotschedule.pdf.

The family-friendly videos are:

“The Flu is a Very Viral Thing,”

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Z64le5isSow]

“Keep the Flu from Going Viral,”

[youtube=http://youtu.be/lYrlJnd5PVY]

“Prepare Your Family,”

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Hawaii State Health Department Receives Federal Funds to Strengthen Emergency Preparedness

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has been awarded $5,260,290 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the federal Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program. Award funding supports efforts to strengthen DOH public health emergency preparedness, including increased capacity in the areas of laboratory testing, disease surveillance and investigation, enhanced infrastructure, public information and warning, community preparedness, and other capabilities.

“Whether it’s preparing for natural disasters or disease outbreaks, the DOH is always working on protecting the public’s health and safety,” noted Health Director Loretta Fuddy. “An investment in emergency preparedness is an investment in the well-being of the people of Hawaiʻi. This federal award will help us do even more to be ready for challenges that might face us.”

The PHEP program supports state, local, and territorial health departments in achieving public health preparedness capabilities to ensure safer and more resilient communities. PHEP also carries out development and training and exercises to test plan effectiveness within DOH as well as with external organizations and agencies.

Utilizing an all-hazards approach, DOH PHEP planning and training cover a wide range of preparedness measures including food safety defense, rapid detection, identification of and response to threat agents and toxins, bioterrorism preparedness, robust interoperable communications, effective emergency public notification and alerts, and the ability to quickly and securely receive and dispense critical medication and supplies to the entire state population.

“Our preparedness efforts have made a great deal of progress over the years,” said Dr. Sarah Park, DOH State Epidemiologist and PHEP director. “However, we recognize that constant improvement is required because the roles and responsibilities of public health continue to evolve and increase, even as funding and resources fluctuate yearly.”

The PHEP program recently released a 10-Year Summary Report outlining accomplishments, goals, and challenges in public health emergency preparedness in Hawaii over the past decade.

The report is available online at http://hawaii.gov/health/BT/10yrSummaryReportFINAL2a.pdf.

September is National Preparedness Month, and the DOH encourages everyone to do their part to be ready for emergencies: “Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.”

For more information on the DOH PHEP program, go to http://hawaii.gov/health/BT/index.html. For more on the CDC PHEP cooperative agreement, see http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/coopagreement.htm.