Indigenous public health success stories focus of new book

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa faculty member explores ways that community-engaged research and service can improve Indigenous health while honoring the culture and norms of Indigenous communities in a new book.

Kathryn L. Braun, a public health professor in the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health, along with Linda Burhansstipanov (Cherokee Nation) from Native American Cancer Research, are co-editors of Indigenous Public Health: Improvement through Community-Engaged Interventions, released in August 2022.

“Many reports on Indigenous health focus on the negative. In contrast, this book features 30 stories of success, including initiatives to address racism, reduce diabetes, and increase cancer screening and treatment. Chapters on community-based participatory research and the building of strong public health infrastructures also include examples of success,” said Braun.

The Indigenous peoples highlighted in this book are the original peoples of the contiguous 48 states of the United States, Alaska, Hawaiʻiand the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Island jurisdictions of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau. 

“I was honored to feature some of the wonderful work being led locally by Native Hawaiians, including the university’s initiative to transform UH into a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning; Waimānalo’s initiative to restore traditional food systems and increase food security through aquaponics; Molokaʻi’s initiatives to improve heart health; and Papa Ola Lokahi’s efforts to increase the number of Native Hawaiians in healthcare professions,” said Braun.

The book also is among the first to feature work by and with Indigenous people of the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI), including successful efforts in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to reduce teen pregnancy, efforts to include research capacity in American Samoa, and efforts to reduce diabetes and childhood obesity among Indigenous peoples in the entire region.

The book acknowledges the negative effects of colonization experienced by American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and the peoples of the USAPI. Another chapter addresses racism, its prevalence and its negative effects on health. However, eight of the 10 chapters summarize efforts by Indigenous people to address and overturn the effects of these negative experiences.

Chapter co-authors from UH and the local community include: Mapuana Antonio, May Rose Dela Cruz, Jane Chung-Do and Keilyn Kawakami from Office of Public Health Studies; Donna-Marie Palakiko from the Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing; Rachel Novotny and Marie Kainoa Fialkowski Revilla from College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources; Kevin Darryl Cassel from the UH Cancer Center; Lana Sue I. Kaʻopua from the Department of Social Work; Judith Clark from the Hawaiʻi Youth Services Network; Noa Emmett Aluli from Molokaʻi General Hospital; and JoAnn ʻUmilaniTsark, community activist.

The book is available on Amazon in Kindle as well as hard-cover versions.

Story originally posted at UH News

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Indigenous health