National Academy of Medicine

Challenges and Promise of Health Equity for Native Hawaiians

By Noreen Mokuau, Patrick H. DeLeon, Joseph Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula, Sade Soares, JoAnn U. Tsark, and Coti Haia
October 31, 2016 | Discussion Paper

Health equity, the attainment of the highest level of health for all people, is yet to be realized for many populations in the United States. Health equity focuses on diseases and health care services, but is also broadly linked to social determinants, such as socioeconomic status, the physical environment, discrimination, and legislative policies. For one population, Native Hawaiians, the indigenous people of Hawai‘i, the elusiveness of health equity is reflected in the excess burden of health and social disparities. The experience of health disparities for this native population is even more troubling as Hawai‘i, with its diverse multiethnic population, is reputed to be the “healthiest state in America.” This paper provides a perspective on health equity for Native Hawaiians by reviewing population characteristics, identifying prominent health and social disparities, presenting programs that show promise for health equity, and concluding with recommendations for the future.



Suggested Citation

Mokuau, N., P. H. DeLeon, J. Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula, S. Soares, J. U. Tsark, and C. Haia. 2016. Challenges and Promises of Health Equity for Native Hawaiians. NAM Perspectives. Discussion Paper, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC. doi: 10.31478/201610d


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.