On May 11, 2010, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders kicked off our first community roundtable at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Howard Koh, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, Dr. Garth Graham, were joined by senior officials representing the Administration on Children and Families, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Office for Civil Rights, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. We were also very happy to welcome a number of community organizations representing members of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans Health Committee and the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Alliance, and their partners.
We were so proud to learn of the amazing work being done across the country. Presentations included innovative strategies in addressing Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander health disparities through data collection, analysis, and disaggregation revealing the staggering rate of diabetes among American Samoans (47.3%); innovative community strategies addressing mental health disparities demonstrated a successful program providing a holistic continuum of services; and strategies addressing language access issues showed the tremendous services provided by a bilingual bicultural health care system.
Did you know there is a Native Hawaiian Epidemiology Center collecting and analyzing critical community health data and that there is an emerging U.S.-Associated Pacific Islands Epidemiology Center based in Guam? Did you know that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder rates for the Mien community were 93% and Vietnamese were 54%? Did you know that 12% of staff at a health clinic in Oakland, California are quadrilingual? And did you know Chinese American residents of Ohio regularly take a 12-hour "Chinatown Bus" to New York City to access culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services?
These were some of the truly incredible issues we learned at the roundtable and we look forward to working closely with our colleagues at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ensure these issues continue to be addressed, good community programs are recognized, and the federal government is appropriately serving the health and health care needs of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.
Kiran Ahuja is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders.