Combined Cancer Statistics Mask the Truth for Native Hawaiians

Papa Ola Lōkahi, the Native Hawaiian Health Board, is joining with other Hawaiian health organizations and health care providers to emphasize the importance of research and data that accurately describes the health and wellness status for Kānaka Maoli, Hawai‘i’s indigenous community.  We are gravely concerned to see cancer data for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) reported in combination with Asian Americans (AA) in the just-released ACS Cancer Facts & Figures 2016, which includes a Special Section:  Cancer in Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.

Cancer in Hawaiians

Hawaiian health advocates have fought for nearly 30 years to raise awareness about the pronounced cancer health disparities among Native Hawaiians, some of which are the highest in the nation and certainly the highest in our state. The Hawaiian congressional delegation and health community contributed to the revision of the Office of Budget & Management Directive of 1997(OMB 15), which charges federal agencies, institutes and offices with disaggregating AA and NHPI data.  Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act requires that all federal data be collected and reported in accordance with the accepted population identifiers.

“Reporting aggregated data sabotages the gains we’ve made over the past 3 decades.  It changes the mo‘olelo, or story, for us Kānaka Maoli,” asserts Dr. Noa Emmett Aluli, Molokai family physician and Vice-President of the ‘Ahahui o nā Kauka, Association of Native Hawaiian Physicians.  “Unfortunately, it can lead to inappropriate education, treatment strategies, and misallocation of resources and efforts.”

Examples of community harm that is perpetuated by aggregating NH and AA cancer data:

The Special Section on AANHPI, 2016 reports that “Cancer is the leading cause of death among AANHPIs…”  In fact, while Native Hawaiians carry the highest cancer mortality burden in Hawai‘i, heart disease is the leading cause of death among Native Hawaiians (Aluli et al, 2010).

The Special Section also reports “Breast cancer incidence and death rates are reported to be 30 to 50%lower for AANHPI.”  Breast cancer incidence among Hawaiian women is 24% higher than for whites, 60% higher than for Chinese, and 12.4% higher than for Japanese.  Breast cancer mortality rates in Hawai‘i are 31% higher than for whites, 127% higher than for Chinese, and 85% higher than for Japanese.  The rates are even more disparate among Pacific Islanders, such as women from the Marshall Islands (Hawaii Cancer Facts and Figures 2010).

“We understand researchers’ concern for stable data sets to produce reliable data, but Hawai‘i has participated in the Nation Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program since SEER’s inception.  As such, significant incidence and mortality data on Native Hawaiians in Hawai‘i are available,” clarifies Dr. Kathryn Braun, co-Principal Investigator of ‘Imi Hale Native Hawaiian Cancer Network (‘Imi Hale).

Hardy Spoehr, former Executive Director of Papa Ola Lōkahi, has been a long standing champion of this issue. “It’s disappointing that aggregation of NH data with that of AA is still prevalent in federal data reporting.  American Cancer Society is an internationally respected organization and needs to be a leader in this realm of data presentation, not a perpetuator of harmful reporting practices that have made it so difficult for the Hawaiian community to raise awareness about its cancer burden.”

Misrepresented data promotes harmful perceptions about the health status and health needs of the Hawaiian community. All minority and small groups who are not equitably represented in national data collection and reporting are victims of this harmful practice.

Papa Ola Lōkahi will remain diligent about raising awareness about this and we ask our local and national partners and colleagues to do the same.

Confirmed Dengue Fever Cases on the Big Island of Hawaii Rises to 233

The Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island continues and the total confirmed amount of cases rose by 3 more case since the last update bringing the total amount of confirmed cases to 233:

Mosquito Bite

As of January 22, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 3 new cases of dengue fever.  Currently, as many as 3 of the confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious.

Potentially infectious individuals
3 Illness onset 1/12/16 to 1/17/16
Cases no longer infectious
230 Illness onset 9/11/15 to 1/11/16
Past and present confirmed cases (Cumulative TOTAL)

Of the confirmed cases, 211 are Hawaii Island residents and 22 are visitors.
190 cases have been adults; 43 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 1/17/16.

As of today, a total of 977 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

UH Hilo Offers Youth Basketball Teams Free Admission to Home Basketball Games

Hawai‘i Island’s youth basketball players can show their support for the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s basketball teams by taking advantage of free admission Vulcan Athletics is offering for remaining men’s and women’s home games.

UH Hilo 2016 mens team

All registered keiki basketball players and coaches, including those participating in Department of Parks and Recreation’s leagues and Hawai‘i Police Activities League (HI-PAL) tournaments, are eligible for free home game general admission. The offer covers each team’s players, head coach, one assistant coach, and the coaches’ significant other for the remainder of the 2015-2016 UH Hilo basketball season.

Due to recruiting restrictions for high school athletes, the free admission can be offered only to keiki currently attending kindergarten through the eighth grade.

Games will be played at Hawai‘i County’s Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium located in Hilo. The following is the remaining schedule, starting times (women play first) and opponent:

  • Monday, January 25 (5 p.m./7:30 p.m.) – California Baptist University
  • Saturday, February 13 (11 a.m./1 p.m.) – Chaminade University
  • Monday, February 15 (5 p.m./7:30 p.m.) – Notre Dame de Namur University
  • Thursday, February 18 (6 p.m.) – Brigham Young University-Hawai‘i
  • Tuesday, February 23 (5 p.m./7:30 p.m.) – Point Loma Nazarene
  • Saturday, February 27 (5 p.m./7:30 p.m.) – Azusa Pacific University

Coaches wishing to participate in the program must provide their team’s name, roster, players’ ages, and coaches’ contact information. Coaches of multiple youth teams must submit separate rosters.

For more information, please contact Kelly Leong, UH-Hilo sports information director, at 932-7177, 895-0929 or