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An interdisciplinary team of University of Hawaiʻi experts recently took the global health stage to bring awareness to the unique health needs and challenges faced in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region. As part of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) 2021 Annual Global Health Conference, UH presented the free pre-conference satellite session on March 9, Global Health in Hawaiʻi and the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands. The session drew more than 100 participants from around the world through Zoom. It was the first time UH has presented at the conference since becoming a member of CUGH in 2018.

“By virtue of its geographic location and longstanding partnerships with academic institutions and ministries of health in the Asia-Pacific region, UH is strategically positioned to provide a Pacific-focused perspective to the global health conversation,” said Aimee Grace, director of the UH Office of Strategic Health Initiatives and lead organizer for the event. “We are honored to have had the opportunity to exchange knowledge and resources with our colleagues around the globe.”

The panel, organized by members of the UH System’s Global Health and Social Justice Work Group in partnership with the UHealthy Hawaiʻi initiative, covered key issues during the three-hour session, including climate change, chronic diseases, mental health, health inequities, health workforce development and telehealth.

Speakers included:

  • Maya Maxym, assistant professor, John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM)
  • Keawe Kaholokula, professor, JABSOM
  • Neal Palafox, professor, JABSOM
  • Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, associate dean, JABSOM
  • Chip Fletcher, associate dean, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
  • Davis Rehuher, JABSOM
  • Sara Haack, assistant professor, JABSOM
  • Seiji Yamada, professor, JABSOM
  • Tetine Sentell, professor, Office of Public Health Studies
  • Kristine Qureshi, associate dean, School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene
  • Christina Higa, co-director, Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center

The session included interactive chats among the attendees and the presenters, which allowed them to connect with one another, share resources and knowledge, and learn more about global health in Hawaiʻi and the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands. There was significant interest by attendees across the globe in further engaging to improve health in the region.

“The CUGH conference provides an excellent opportunity to draw attention to the needs of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region, while showcasing both the strengths of our healthcare community and our commitment to social justice and health equity,” said Maxym, who served as moderator for the UH session. “We were thrilled to have such a high level of international engagement and we look forward to further expanded partnerships moving forward.”

“The UH System’s UHealthy Global Health Workgroup highlighted the historical challenges and significant strengths of the peoples across Hawaiʻi and the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands,” said Qureshi, who was recently elected to the CUGH Board of Directors. “Our ongoing collaborative efforts across the Pacific serve to improve the quality of life and health for all of us who call this region our home.”

The CUGH 2021 Annual Global Health Conference continues with the official virtual conference taking place March 12–14, 2021, featuring a keynote address by Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. A recording of the UH satellite session will be made available following the conference. Visit CUGH 2021.

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