The Pacific Project
The Pacific Project is a capacity building, training, and technical assistance project of the Office of Minority Health Resource Center (OMHRC), funded by the Minority AIDS Initiative. The purpose of the Pacific Project is to increase HIV prevention and care services provided to the peoples of the United States Associated Pacific Island (USAPI) jurisdictions. In order to achieve these goals we aim to:
- Increase the number of community based organizations providing HIV prevention and care services in the region,
- Increase the number of partner agencies, groups and businesses collaborating to address HIV prevention and care throughout the US Pacific Island Jurisdictions,
- Increase the capacity and efficacy of Jurisdictional Health Departments to provide HIV prevention and care services to consumers and at-risk populations,
- Increase the Technical Assistance coordination of Capacity Building providers in the region,
- Increase the regional resource development capacity to adequately address the health disparities that exist throughout the Pacific Jurisdictions as an integral strategy of decreasing the prevalence of HIV infection among at-risk populations, and
- Strengthen the ability of the Jurisdictional Health Departments to implement their current and on-going strategic plans of HIV prevention, education and care to populations throughout the Pacific Jurisdictions.
Assessment of Needs
The Pacific Project focuses on the six U.S. Affiliated Pacific Island (USAPI) jurisdictions:
- American Samoa
- U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
- U.S.-Freely Associated States (FAS) of Palau
- Marshall Islands
- Federated States of Micronesia (Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap).
These island jurisdictions, with over 104 inhabited islands and low-lying atolls, cover a geographic expanse greater than that of the continental United States. There are seven official languages in the region. Almost all health indicators for individuals are worse than those for mainland Americans, and this is particularly so in the FAS (Compact of Free Association [COFA] nations).
The Pacific region deals with both health conditions typical of developing countries (e.g., malnutrition, tuberculosis, Hansen's disease (leprosy), dengue, cholera and typhoid) and of developed countries (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, and cancer). Tobacco use, alcohol abuse, vitamin deficiencies, suicide and HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are also serious health issues.
As shame and stigma around HIV/AIDS persist in the Pacific, HIV care and prevention services are extremely limited. These island nations deal with many challenging dynamics to support their HIV prevention activities and delivery services including working with communities and populations separated by vast expanses of ocean, highly mobile populations, a lack of primary health care providers and facilities, variable economic and social conditions, and the challenges of adequately managing the migration and movement of regional and international visitors and workers.
The Pacific Project addresses the care and prevention needs related to HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and tuberculosis in USAPI jurisdictions. So far, we have provide technical assistance and capacity development to establish four community-based organizations in the USAPIs to assist health departments in providing prevention and care services to native and visiting populations.
MAI Pacific Project
In October 1998, HIV/AIDS was declared a severe and on-going health crisis across racial and ethnic minority communities. In response, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus announced a special package of initiatives aimed at reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS on racial and ethnic minorities. These activities became known as the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI).
Since 2006, the Office of Minority Health Resource Center (OMHRC) has collaborated with agencies and organizations across the Pacific Jurisdictions and cultivated local skills and talents to confront HIV and AIDS in Guam and the other Pacific communities.
Strengthening organizational knowledge and skills involves transferring information and know-how to increase an organization's resources and capacity to work on the prevention of HIV, STDs, tuberculosis and co-morbidities. Emerging organizations need to know more about the context of HIV/AIDS to decrease community stigma, break their isolation and establish connections to resources. In addition, public health information and materials are scattered throughout the Pacific Basin. OMHRC has built a system for the collection and dissemination of public health information. It also provides trainings on HIV/AIDS, and co-morbidities including tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases (HIV/AIDS/TB/STDs).
The US Pacific Jurisdictions Health Ministry administrators and Department of Health personnel provide regional influence, expertise and opportunity to transmit information, skills, and motivation to patients, clients, and colleagues throughout the Pacific Jurisdiction. It is therefore essential that they receive updated health education and risk reduction education to improve their own understanding of HIV/TB prevention and behavior change modalities.
A crucial aspect of this Project is the coordinated collaboration of activities with local, regional and federal partners. Any health related initiatives must be incorporated into existing health networks such as PIHOA, PIJAAG, Pacific Island TB Controllers Association (PITCA), American Pacific Nurse Leaders Council (APNLC), and others. Due to the lack of human and financial resources in the Pacific, the local service providers can easily be overwhelmed by the various funding requirements. Collaboration and coordination of HIV/AIDS/STDs/TB activities must be strengthened between OMHRC, CDC, HRSA, Office on Women's Health, PIHOA, PIJAAG, and other potential partners.
To accomplish these goals, the Pacific Project has developed three mini-award projects: Capacity Building Awards, Health Information Campaign Awards, and the Pacific Resource and Training Center Award.Path Forward
Significant health and economic disparities exist throughout the US Pacific Island Jurisdictions. Many of these disparities add to the complexities endemic to HIV/AIDS/TB/STDs incidence and prevalence in the region.
OMHRC Capacity Building Division hopes to build the technical capacity of agencies and health related institutions to provide care and prevention services to communities and populations throughout the Pacific.
The most critical elements of this Initiative include better coordination between health providers, increased number of community partnerships, and improved collaboration efforts and information sharing among health and human services agencies and organizations in the United States Pacific Island Jurisdictions.