Office of Hawaiian Affairs calls on state agencies to improve data collection for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders
Honolulu, HAWAII — The Office of Hawaiian Affairs wants the state to improve its data collection for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.
A resolution backed by OHA calls for several public agencies, including county police departments, to release disaggregated data on Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders. The proposal is part of OHA’s 2021 legislative package and is awaiting introduction by House Speaker Scott Saiki.
The measure also calls for a task force to analyze and provide recommendations on how the state collects, processes, retains and shares demographic data.
The legislative effort comes months after OHA’s criticism of the Department of Health’s COVID-19 data prompted the state to release detailed coronavirus case data by race and ethnicity.
“The recovery and resilience of our Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and overall communities are dependent upon timely, clear, and detailed data that consistently disaggregates Native Hawaiians from other Pacific Islanders in order to better advance the state’s public health and social determinants of health goals much more effectively and efficiently in the 21st century,” the resolution says.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, Hawaii at first combined Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders into one category when reporting coronavirus cases.
That gave the impression that Native Hawaiians were suffering at disproportionately high rates. But once the two groups were disaggregated, the data showed Native Hawaiians were actually much less likely to get COVID-19 than the general public.
Hawaii now is the only state that disaggregates Native Hawaiians from other Pacific Islanders in its COVID-19 data.
OHA’s resolution says the lack of timely and detailed data has stymied efforts to effectively address the pandemic’s negative impacts on Pacific communities.