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The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa will receive $3,400,883 in federal funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to support efforts to eliminate COVID-19 disparities among Hawaiʻi’s vulnerable populations, including Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. The funds will be used by UH to increase COVID-19 testing and disseminate COVID-19 educational curriculum to schools in rural and underserved communities.

“We must use every public health intervention available to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our vulnerable populations, and especially to reduce the disparities we’ve seen in the Pacific Islander community,” stated U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. “By expanding access to COVID-19 testing and teaching preventative practices to students in rural areas, this grant will help us keep more Hawaiʻi families safe. I’m proud that UH is leading this effort to bring additional resources to areas that need it most.”

UH will use the new funds to expand testing and outreach programs that have been successful at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center to four additional community health centers: Waimānalo Health Center on Oʻahu; the Bay Clinic Inc. and Hāmākua-Kohala Health Center on Hawaiʻi Island; and the Molokaʻi Community Health Center.

At the same time, UH will disseminate COVID-19 educational curriculum to community schools to empower students and families to implement preventative practices, encourage testing and help reduce infections.

“We are pleased to address an issue of such great importance to our state—and one which disproportionately impacts Hawaiʻi’s vulnerable populations. This partnership with community health centers and scientists across our great university represents a great opportunity to proactively and uniquely contribute to the health of Hawaiʻi,” said Jerris Hedges, dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, and Noreen Mokuau, former dean of the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.

—Based on a U.S. Senate press release

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