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University of Hawaii awarded $3.4M to improve COVID-19 outreach, testing for Pacific Islanders

More than $3.4 million in federal funding has been awarded to the University of Hawaii at Manoa to increase COVID-19 testing and outreach to underserved communities in Hawaii, according to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and will be used by UH to expand testing and outreach programs to four community health centers:

>> Waimanalo Health Center on Oahu

>> Bay Clinic Inc. on Hawaii island

>> Hamakua-Kohala Health Center on Hawaii island

>> Molokai Community Health Center

The programs have been successful at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.

UH will also disseminate educational materials on COVID-19 to community schools in rural and underserved areas that encourage preventative practices and testing among students and their families.

“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,” said Schatz in a news release. “By expanding access to COVID-19 testing and teaching preventative practices to students in rural areas, this grant will help us keep more Hawaii families safe. I’m proud that UH is leading this effort to bring additional resources to areas that need it most.”

Hawaii’s Pacific Islander community has been hardest hit by COVID-19, and the state’s outreach efforts have been inadequate, according to previous reports.

“We are pleased to address an issue of such great importance to our state – and one which disproportionately impacts Hawaiiʻs vulnerable populations,” said Dr. Jerris Hedges, dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, and Dr. Noreen Mokuau, former dean of the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, in a joint statement. “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 Hawaii.”

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