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The United States-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) consist of the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau. The U.S. is responsible for the essential operations, health, education, and defense for these jurisdictions. The residents of these jurisdictions are considered to be a U.S. health disparity population. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), however, acknowledges that this geographic region has received very little NIH support to conduct health and health disparities research.

According to NIH, there is a “critical” need to collect basic epidemiological and health services data for populations residing in USAPI. In many available studies of datasets, data for USAPI populations are aggregated with data for Native Hawaiians or Asians Americans. There is further recognition that the research infrastructure for local organizations, including universities, departments of public health, healthcare organizations, or health-focused community organizations, which are likely to be best positioned to collect such information, may not be sufficiently developed to conduct large-scale population health research.

To this end, the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) has issued a funding opportunity announcement, Building Population Health Research Capacity in the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands (RFA-MD-15-011), designed to (1) build capacity of organizations in the USAPI to conduct population health research, and (2) support population health research projects that will provide novel data for USAPI populations and serve as the foundation for future research efforts.

Potential research topic areas may include: help-seeking patterns and barriers regarding formal healthcare as well as integrative or indigenous medicine, community-level needs that are not adequately addressed by existing community-based preventive or health promotion interventions; type, intensity, and quality of healthcare received; and the incidence/prevalence of infectious and non-communicable chronic disease and of risk factors for these conditions.

Courtesy COSSA Washington Update