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RADx-UP Adminiistrative Supplement

17 November 2020

Funding from the RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, of the National Institutes of Health, will support the Puipuia le Ola project, which seeks to develop, disseminate and evaluate culturally tailored and linguistically appropriate community-engagement strategies to increase the reach, access and uptake of COVID-19 testing and to better understand SARS-CoV-2 infection patterns among Pacific Islanders in Hawaii and on Guam.

Pacific Islanders represent indigenous peoples having origins in Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Republic of Palau. They have among the highest COVID-19-associated morbidity and mortality rates in the United States. They also suffer from medical co-morbidities known to increase their risk of severe COVID-19. In addition, Pacific Islanders have poor access to health care, inadequate or no health insurance, live in multi-generational or multi-family overcrowded housing, and have low-paying service jobs that increase their risk exposure. In Hawaii, Pacific Islanders comprise only 4% of the State population, but account for nearly 30% of COVID-19 cases and 20% of all COVID-19 deaths. On Guam, Chuukese represent 7% of the population but account for 14% of COVID-19 cases.

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Pacific Islanders have been largely invisible and overlooked in the socio-economic fabric and healthcare infrastructure in Hawaii. They have suffered generations-long historical trauma from discrimination, implicit bias, colonialism and poverty.

Puipuia le Ola is strongly endorsed by the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawaii and the Governor of Guam, and is guided by a Community and Scientific Advisory Board, comprising community leaders and academicians, who have devoted their lives to improving Pacific Islander health and reducing health disparities.

Puipuia le Ola (protecting life in the Samoan language) represents a transdisciplinary partnership between the University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Guam, Kalihi-Palama Health Center, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander COVID-19 Response, Recovery, Resilience Team (COVID 3R), Hawaii Public Housing Authority, Hawaii Affordable Housing, Inc., American Samoa Government, and community-based organizations (including the Marshallese Community Organization of Hawaii, Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, and First Samoan Congregational Christian Church of Honolulu).