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Pacific Islander Priority Population Project 

Who we are

The Pacific Islander Priority Project at Public Health serves as a bridge between health agencies and community organizations. We are community centered, community driven, and community led.  

Washington state is home to the third-largest population of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the country. More than half live in King and Pierce counties. We reach across King County boundaries to work with other jurisdictions and community-based organizations who work throughout the region.  

Lessening COVID-19 health disparities

Our project started during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. We used funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Health Equity Grant to take on the inequitable outcomes in the pandemic and support the work with the community.  

We partnered with Tacoma Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD), community-based organizations, The Voice of South Pacific, Community Navigators, Islander providers, health care providers, and spiritual leaders. Our pandemic-era activities included community conversations, a media partnership, cross-cultural safety-net connections, vaccine events, food distribution, and much more.

Overall health of Pacific Islanders

We’re carrying on our pandemic learnings as we move into a new phase with a focus on overall social determinants of health. We identify subject-matter experts that community organizations can consult for opportunities and grant writing. We also facilitate community building for Pacific Islanders in public health agencies.  

We are continuing to bring Pacific Islander community members to the table and asking for their input and advice on public health messaging, resources, and services. 

Notable activities

  • 2023 Pasifika Health Summit: A May 2023 gathering in Federal Way, co-sponsored by Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, for public health professionals and more than a dozen Pacific Islander community organizations. We came together for a journey of discovery to unravel critical data about youth depression, adult connection, housing, life expectancy, and racism. The purpose was to determine how these factors affect community health outcomes. Read our summary report from the Summit.
  • Inner Wellness Series: An eight-part online discussion series on mental health and wellness, featuring Pasifika mental health counselors. We hosted this series in both Spring and Fall 2023. Sessions ranged from the basics about what therapy is, to the final topic of compassion fatigue. Hundreds of people joined the live sessions each time. All the recordings are available on the Public Health YouTube channel:  
  • 2024 Oceania Health Summit: Building on the success of the 2023 Summit, we’re planning a 2024 gathering in spring 2024.