News (all)

  • OPHS Hosts UH-Fudan University Public Health Summit

    Posted Sep 29, 2016 at 11:43am

    The UHM Office of Public Health Studies (OPHS) hosted a UH-Fudan Public Health Summit from September 26-28, 2016. Eight faculty members from Fudan University and Wuhan University in China — including Wen Chen, dean of the Fudan School of Public Health — attended the summit at East-West Center’s Jefferson Hall.

    UH President David Lassner, School of Social Work Dean Noreen Mokuau and OPHS Director Kathryn Braun gave opening remarks, emphasizing the value of and their support for international exchange and collaborations. More than 50 UH faculty and students attended the summit.

    The summit’s main purpose was to highlight and promote academic exchange and research between UH Mānoa and China. Summit speakers shared views on health policy and reform, aging, environmental degradation and global health challenges — all important areas of public health.

    During the summit, UH Mānoa signed an agreement with Fudan University for 2016-2021. The agreement renews the decade-long collaboration between the OPHS and Fudan University School of Public Health. The UH-Fudan agreement formalizes a BS/MS fast track program, also called the 4+1+1 Program.  Students who pursue and successfully earn bachelor degrees at Fudan in preventive medicine study may then pursue a fast-track master’s degree in public health at UH Mānoa.

    “The successful 10-year relationship between UH Mānoa and Fudan University in public health is testament to the evolving need for international partnerships on global health,” stated Dean Mokuau.

    Added Dean of Graduate Education Krystyna Aune, “Fudan University has a strong worldwide reputation for its research, teaching and caliber of students.  The Public Health 4+1+1 Program will further strengthen the partnership between UHM and Fudan, and attract stellar students to pursue graduate education here.”

    OPHS pioneered such fast-track degree programs at UH Mānoa, with its first agreement with Wuhan University in 2008. To date, OPHS has developed such agreements with four universities in China — Wuhan, Fudan, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and Nanchang.  OPHS also has agreements in place with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany), the University of Tokyo, Korea University and Catholic University of Korea.

    “More than 125 Chinese students and faculty have visited UH, and more than 80 UH students and faculty have visited China. They all have benefited from this international exchange program by developing research credentials and experience,” said Dr. Yuanan Lu, the professor who has led OPHS since 2007. “The objective of our UH-China program is to enhance public health education globally and to promote international cooperation with China, the most populated country in the world.”

    Over the past ten years, OPHS has worked with four leading schools of public health in China, including Fudan and Wuhan universities. Beside student and faculty exchange, research collaborations between OPHS and China have resulted in more than 50 peer-reviewed publications in environmental health, social and behavioral health, health policy and management, and epidemiology.

    To further strengthen the UHM-China partnership, OPHS has established the China-Hawaii Public Health Exchange Fund at the UH Foundation. To donate, see https://giving.uhfoundation.org/ and search for account 12748304, or contact Dr. Yuanan Lu at (808) 956-2702 or yuanan@hawaii.edu.

  • New warning signs that gonorrhea treatment may be losing effectiveness

    Posted Sep 22, 2016 at 6:53am

    “Hawai‘i is on the front line for antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea – we’ve been one of the first states to see declining effectiveness of each drug over the years,” said Alan Katz, MD, MPH, professor of public health at the University of Hawai‘i, member of the Hawaii State Board of Health, and staff physician and medical consultant at the Hawaii State Department of Health’s Diamond Head STD Clinic. “That’s made us extremely vigilant, so we were able to catch this cluster early and treat everyone found who was linked to the cluster. But the future risk of gonorrhea becoming resistant to both of the recommended therapy medications in the United States is troubling.”

  • Benefits and risks of fish consumption provided by new app

    Posted Aug 26, 2016 at 11:03am

    BeneFISHiary, an app created in part by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Office of Public Health Studies Assistant Professor Catherine Pirkle, provides location-specific data and the risks and benefits of Bermudian fish species. Pirkle worked in close collaboration with Philippe Rouja of the Ocean and Human Health Research Programme in Bermuda and Tidjane Tall of HUACTIVE.

    App users can search or browse fish and get detailed information about the mercury concentrations and nutrients such as selenium and omega-3 fatty acids in that particular species. The app also provides information about the sustainability of local and imported fish, as well as which lower mercury level fish can substitute for their higher relatives.

    The BeneFISHiary app was recognized with a 2016 International Association for Ecology and Health Small Grant Award. The app is in a beta version with plans for scale-up to other communities and enhanced features including updated fish inventories.

    The app was developed following a study on the consumption of fish by pregnant women in Bermuda and the effectiveness of public health messaging on mercury in fish. The study, “Examining the Impact of a Public Health Message on Fish Consumption in Bermuda” was published in PLOS One. It found that public health messaging warning of the dangers of mercury exposure from consumption of certain fish appeared to be effective, but adjustments needed to be made to promote consumption of healthy and sustainable fish with lower mercury levels. The BeneFISHiary app was created to help consumers make those adjustments, as well as healthcare providers who counsel pregnant women.

    The data for the app was collected in Bermuda, however, with additional funding, Pirkle sees the potential to expand the use of the app to Hawaiʻi and other coastal communities with strong ties to their local environments.

    BeneFISHiary is available for free at the iTunes store and the Google Play store.

  • OPHS Reorganized Under the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work

    Posted Aug 18, 2016 at 3:01pm

    We are pleased to share as of July 1, 2016 The Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work (MBT SSW) is now home to the Department of Social Work, the Office of Public Health Studies and the Center on Aging. Dean Noreen Mokuau continues as Dean. The shared vision of the MBT SSW and its units is “achieving social justice and health equity for the people of Hawai`i and citizens in a changing world.”

    The Department of Social Work (DSW) includes a BSW program; an MSW program with both a Manoa and DE-based option, with specializations in Behavioral Mental Health, Children and Families, Health, and Gerontology; and a PhD in Social Welfare. Dr. Meripa Godinet serves as Chair. The mission of the DSW is to provide educational excellence that advances social work with its focus on social justice.  The principal responsibility is the generation, transmission, and application of knowledge for the global enterprise with special attention to Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander, and Asian populations in our state and region. http://www.hawaii.edu/sswork/

    The Office of Public Health Studies (OPHS) is directed by Dr. Kathryn L. Braun. The mission of the OPHS is to advance the health of the peoples of Hawai‘i, the nation, and the Asia-Pacific region through knowledge, discovery, innovation, engagement, inclusion, and leadership. OPHS offers the BA in Public Health. It also offers the Masters of Public Health (MPH) with specializations including Epidemiology, Health Policy and Management, Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health, Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, as well as a Master of Science (MS) in Epidemiology or Social and Behavioral Health Sciences. OPHS offers both the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree and PhD in Epidemiology. http://manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/

    The Center on Aging's (COA) mission is to enhance the well being of older adults. COA is committed to interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts in research, educational programs and service to the community. The Center’s initiatives focus on the integration of research, education and service, with a focus on the multicultural populations of Hawai‘i and the Pacific Region. http://www.hawaii.edu/aging/

  • Infant Mortality in Post-Earthquake Haiti

    Posted Aug 13, 2016 at 6:59am

    Assistant Professor Victoria Fan, Associate Professor Timothy Halliday and Bradley Chen investigated infant and child mortality in after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Their study “The impact of internal displacement on child mortality in post-earthquake Haiti: a difference-in-differences analysis” was published in the International Journal for Equity in Health.

    The study found that births from camp households had higher infant mortality and child mortality than those not living in camps. These odds are higher despite better access to food, water, bed net use, mosquito spraying and vaccines among camp households. Efforts are needed to identify vulnerable populations to provide targeted assistance in post-disaster relief.

    “The data indicates that those living in camps are getting several key health services, but the services may not be of adequate quality to reduce child mortality,” said Fan. “We also found that those who did not or could not move, either to camps or elsewhere, are quite vulnerable as well. These populations are the literally ‘left behind.’”

    “In carrying out disaster relief, providing a lot of materials and supplies to camps is not sufficient,” said Chen. “Despite better access to food, water and vaccines, kids in camps are still having worse health than other migrant and displaced households. Those reasons need to be better understood.”

  • New book sounds alarm on healthcare providers in India

    Posted Aug 2, 2016 at 2:16pm

    In a newly published World Health Organization report, “The Health Workforce in India,” co-author University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Assistant Professor Victoria Y. Fan has brought attention to the level of education and medical qualifications of physicians and other healthcare providers in India. Fan and co-author Oxford University Professor Sudhir Anand’s 104-page book includes a three-page summary of key findings.

    “The monograph examines the distribution, patterns and inequalities of the health workforce in India by education, gender and urban-rural stratum,” says Fan. “The report also lists the districts that lack any qualified nurses and qualified dentists, which may be useful for policymakers who wish to address these significant disparities that affect access to healthcare services.”

    News articles published in India on the study:

    WHO report sounds alarm on ‘doctors’ in India, The Hindu, July 18, 2016
    Under-educated doctors, rural-urban divide and a stark gender gap. WHO study's shocking data on Indian healthcare, India Today, July 18, 2016

  • Mercury exposure management in northern Canadian communities

    Posted Jul 25, 2016 at 8:23am

    Assistant Professor Catherine Pirkle is the primary author of “Managing mercury exposure in northern Canadian communities,” which was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The journal is ranked in the top 10 medical journals in the world.

    The review provides guidance for healthcare providers on the effects of mercury exposure and how to manage it in patients who consume diets high in fish and marine animals. Mercury exposure is common in communities in Canada’s north, especially in indigenous peoples who consume fish and other wild food with high mercury content, yet current clinical guidelines are not adequate for this population.

    “Communities that frequently consume predatory fish and/or marine mammals have elevated mercury exposure,” said Pirkle. “It is important for clinicians to be clear on the potential risks, the complexity of the underlying epidemiological data and how to approach, in a culturally sensitive manner, communities where mercury exposure may be a concern.”

    Dangers of mercury exposure

    Mercury exposure in pregnant women can have multiple effects in children, affecting brain development. In adults, mercury poisoning can cause vision changes, numbness in extremities, muscle weakness, cognitive changes and even death. Symptoms of mercury poisoning are often difficult to detect and vary between people, requiring diagnosis by a toxicologist or neurologist.

    The Nunavik Child Development Study, conducted by Université Laval Professor Gina Muckle, which for nearly 20 years has been following a cohort of children recruited before birth, found blood mercury concentrations above the Canadian guidance value in 16.9 percent of school-aged children. In another study of Inuit women aged 18–39 in northern Quebec, 53.3 percent had blood levels above the guidance value; the average in Canadians is 2.2 percent (Canadian Health Measures Survey).

    Mercury levels influenced by location

    Mercury levels vary widely in wild foods and are influenced by location, according to Melanie Lemire, professor with the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at Laval. To help healthcare providers recommend appropriate consumption levels, the authors have included tables with consumption guidelines and blood mercury levels and information on how to test.

    “The principles and suggestions in this paper apply directly to practitioners working in northern Canadian communities, where wild foods are important dietary components,” said Pirkle. “They are more broadly applicable to practitioners working with patients or in communities with high fish consumption.”

    The authors caution that there should be a balance between appropriate consumption and overconsumption of wild foods with mercury; if physicians recommend complete avoidance, people may not have enough nutritious food to eat.

    “Mercury exposure is one of many health concerns facing northern Canadian communities,” write the authors. “Counseling to reduce exposure must recognize and address wider food security issues and nutritional challenges, or it will unlikely be effective.”

  • Public Health Mourns the Passing of Representative K. Mark Takai

    Posted Jul 20, 2016 at 1:08pm

    The Office of Public Health Studies was saddened to learn of the death of Representative K. Mark Takai, who represented Hawai‘i’s first district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Representative Takai was an alumnus of the University of Hawai‘i School of Public Health, graduating with his Masters of Public Health in Health Education in December 1993. He was always interested in political leadership, and served in leadership positions at the University of Hawai‘i before seeking office in the Hawai‘i State Legislature and then in Congress.

    As a lifelong public servant, Mark exemplified public health values of cooperation, collaboration, and empowerment. He advocated for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and veterans, and he helped to preserve the Affordable Care Act.

    The public health community recognizes his contributions and will miss him greatly. Our hearts are with his family at this difficult time. 

  • Congratulations to our undergraduates who presented at the Spring 2016 Honors Showcase!

    Posted May 10, 2016 at 9:24am

    Seven of our BA Public Health students who will be graduating this month presented their Applied Learning Experience final projects and five students presented their Applied Learning Experience proposals at the Spring 2016 Honors Showcase on Friday, May 6, 2016. 

  • Public Health Undergraduates Swept the Social Sciences Category at the Honors Showcase

    Posted May 6, 2016 at 1:56pm

    Congratulations to BA Public Health students Sasha Madan and Chevelle Davis for their First Place and Honorable Mention awards in the completed project, Social Sciences category at the Honors Undergraduate Showcase on May 6, 2016!

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