April 10, 2022, 2:00 PM HST
* Updated April 10, 11:44 AM
An initiative at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s aimed at improving health care throughout the islands was recently launched thanks to a multi-million-dollar, multi-year commitment from the state.
According to a press release, the Health Policy Initiative, housed in UH-Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences, will facilitate public impact research in health analytics under the direction of the Social Science Research Institute. The initiative was made possible by a $10 million commitment from the Med-QUEST Division of the state Department of Human Services.
“Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region offer many unique factors that positively impact an individual’s quality of life, from cultural strengths and strong community bonds to access to nature and greenspace,” said College of Social Sciences Dean Denise Eby Konan in the release. “At the same time, our residents experience high rates of health disparities, illness and vulnerabilities. This funding is key to addressing these emerging and chronic health issues and is the focal point of our partnership with Med-QUEST.”
The Health Policy Initiative is a cornerstone of the UHealthy Hawaiʻi initiative, which leverages UH programs to improve health and health care locally and throughout the Pacific.
According to the press release, the goals for the Health Policy Initiative include:
- Fostering collaboration among UH-Mānoa and government agencies to address emerging and chronic health issues.
- Advancing understanding of the causes and consequences of poor health and wellness in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region.
- Evaluating existing health and social programs to identify and recommend best practices.
- Crafting innovative, research-supported policies and initiatives aimed at improving health and decreasing costs.
- Building the capacity of the state’s workforce and developing future health leaders to work directly with state departments and agencies.
“The Med-QUEST Division is excited to further our partnership with the College of Social Sciences,” said Judy Mohr Peterson, Medicaid director and Med-QUEST administrator, in the release. “Working together will enable us to conduct critical research and influence health policy for the state of Hawaiʻi.”
The Med-QUEST funding will also establish two faculty positions in the College of Social Sciences to lead and direct the Health Policy Initiative, as well as a number of staff positions to support the initiative’s efforts.