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Report compiles isle health care differences and needs

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Hawaii’s health disparities and gaps in care need community collaboration to help residents make healthier choices and to increase longevity among the state’s neediest population, according to a report that will be released today.

The Hawaii Community Health Needs Assessment-Community Voices on Health, commissioned by Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, compiled statewide information to shed light on disparities, prevalence of disease and social and economic factors that create barriers to improving the community’s health.

The report points to the higher rates of disease, poverty and the uninsured, as well as the lack of medical care particularly affecting rural areas.

The study will be presented today from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to lawmakers and the public at the state Capitol auditorium.

“The goal is to encourage people in the community to think more broadly about health, also to galvanize people to come together to help improve our health status as a state,” said Joy Barua, Kaiser director of community benefits. “It’s how to change people’s habits, get people to make healthier choices and be active in their daily lives so they can be thinking with prevention in mind.”

HEALTH NEEDS BREAKDOWN

The report, which can be downloaded at www.kp.org, focuses on the following:

>> Geographic areas where health disparities and gaps exist

>> Generational and ethnic groups underserved or where significant growth in needs is anticipated

>> Making healthful food more accessible

>> Health care information, education and knowledge sharing

Changing people’s habits — including their eating and working choices — that affect physical and financial health will take partnerships beyond medical providers. Those can include environmental groups, social service organizations and others not directly related to the medical field to educate and empower various ethnic groups to change unhealthy behaviors.

In addition to a clinic simply treating patients, it also could teach them about body fat, screening obesity and how to access affordable healthy foods, he said.

“The approach for each ethnic group will vary, but the common thread you’ll see in all approaches will promote prevention,” Barua said.

The report includes information from more than 150 community members, including social service and public health organizations.

Individuals and organizations can use the data to improve community health initiatives.

“Investment in the physical health of the community will help make the community more healthy from an economic perspective because we become more productive,” said Robin Cam­pa­ni­ano, general partner of Ulu­pono Initiative, an investment firm that focuses on locally grown food, renewable energy and reducing waste.

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