REPORT FROM OHA – From its homemade banana bread and taro plants to its fabled highways and hidden waterfalls, Häna is practically defined by its quiet existence on the coast of Maui.
But it is a silent killer’s grasp on this geographically isolated community that has residents eager to lower their risk of dying of heart disease, which has plagued generations of families in Häna for decades.
Heart disease and other health risks associated with a lack of physical activity and proper nutrition are the main targets of a project that just got underway Sept. 1 in Häna, where the health initiative is being funded with a $148,500 grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Called the Häna Ulu Pono Project, the one-year effort was initiated by a cardiologist from Queen’s Medical Center. It also fits into a broader strategy at OHA to reduce the obesity rate among Native Hawaiians in the state.
At the same time, the fight against heart disease in Häna is one of 22 outreach efforts statewide being funded this year with $2.4 million in grants from OHA. In Häna, an estimated 150 Native Hawaiians are expected to benefit from the community-based project whose features include traditional Native Hawaiian practices that encourage exericise and weight control.
“Häna Ulu Pono can diminish disease and restore health by using community-driven strategies that are anchored in Native Hawaiian culture,” said Noreen Mokuau, dean of the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawaii. “The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Queen’s Medical Center are members of a larger integrated network of health providers called Nä Limahana o Lonopühä, which is dedicated to building the Native Hawaiian community’s capacity and health. We recognize that the strength and resiliency of the Hana community will help them define and find their path to wellness.”
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, (OHA) is a state agency under the direction of its nine trustees elected statewide.