Monday, November 3, 2014

Pacific Islanders Admit to, Take On Poor Health Status

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Beginning Monday, November 10, the UDOH Office of Health Disparities (OHD) will join local community groups and sponsors in the state’s largest health initiative to address alarming health problems among Utah’s Pacific Islanders. In response to some of Utah’s highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and infant mortality, the Utah Pacific Islander Coalition (UPIHC) has coordinated a series of health promotion events from Salt Lake City to St. George. 

At UPIHC’s request, Governor Gary Herbert has declared the second week in November as Utah Pacific Islander Health Week, which has been observed through events like health fairs, free fitness programs, CPR classes, senior citizen luncheons, and community forums featuring Pacific Islander health advocates like Sione and Filipe Fa, former contestants on television’s The Biggest Loser

The Office of Health Disparities has collaborated with UPIHC since 2011 and actively provides technical assistance to Pacific Islander non-profit agencies like The Queen Center, National Tongan American Community, and Hui Hawai’i o Utah Hawaiian Civic Club. Queen Center executive director Joyce AhYou says holding Health Week in November is intentional. “It builds momentum before the holiday feasting season begins, to encourage ourselves to make healthier choices.” OHD director Dulce Díez praises the local Pacific Islander community for their proactive approach to addressing their own health issues – including infant mortality, diabetes, and obesity rates that were reported in 2011 as being twice as high as the rest of the state. 

UT PI Health Week kicks off on Monday, November 10 with the Pacific Family Health Expo from 6:00-8:30 pm at the Sorenson Multicultural Center at 855 W. 1300 S. in Salt Lake City. The Expo will feature a variety of activity stations, fitness demonstrations, information booths, and free services including health insurance enrollment help and screenings for cholesterol, visual acuity and glaucoma, blood pressure, and diabetes. The Expo is free, including a light dinner, and open to the public with activities for all ages.

The full schedule of Health Week events is available at The UPIHC can be reached for questions at

Utah Pacific Islander Health Week is the largest event of its kind in the Intermountain region, drawing over 1,100 attendees in 2013. According to Kava Talks founder, Susi Feltch-Malohifo‘ou, “This year’s Health Week is going to be bigger and better than previous years and this kind of growth and increased interest and investment in our community health is exactly what we want to see.”

The 3rd Annual Utah Pacific Islander Health Week is made possible through the support of UPIHC member organizations, SelectHealth, Molina Healthcare, The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH), Health Choice Utah, and the UDOH Office of Health Disparities.

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Media Contact:
Jacob Fitisemanu, Jr.
Outreach Coordinator