Picture of a famous Hawaii Surfer

The Hawaiian Islands consist of seven main islands (Big Island of Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, Niihau, and Oahu). Hawaii is the most isolated populated landmass in the world and it is 2500 miles across the Pacific Ocean from the western coast of the continental United States.

There are approximately 1.4 million residents living in Hawaii and the annual birthrate is 18,500. The population in Hawaii is unique because there are more co-existing ethnic and cultural groups than any other state. It is the only state in the U.S.A. where most residents have roots in the Pacific Islands or Asia instead of Europe or Africa. While this ethnic mixture contributes to Hawaii ‘s unique diversity, it also represents differing cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes that must be considered when planning and implementing programs and services.

Also, due to its strategic maritime location, Hawaii has been an established stronghold for the United States Armed Forces since the early twentieth century. Today, the military continues to have a strong presence in Hawaii, and the number of military personnel in the islands has steadily increased.

Over the past decade, Hawaii has been able to cultivate genetics, birth defects surveillance, and newborn metabolic and hearing screening programs.

The Department of Health’s Genomics Section is responsible for assessment, policy development, and assurance issues related to genetic, newborn screening, and birth defects services and education. An important component of the Section is the development, implementation, and evaluation of genetics, newborn screening, and birth defects educational activities for a broad range of local, regional, and national audiences. The Section also engages in research projects to increase the quality, quantity, and accessibility to genetic services and education.

The Department of Health’s Newborn Metabolic and Hearing Screening Programs ensure that all newborns in the state are offered newborn screening and appropriate follow-up services. Since we are a small state, all programs rely on strong public/private partnerships to successfully provide comprehensive services to the families in our state. Prenatal genetic and cancer genetic services are provided within private healthcare systems such as Kaiser Permanente Hawaii and Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children. Tripler Army Medical Center also provides prenatal, pediatric, adult, and cancer genetic services for its military families.
Non-military pediatric and adult genetic services are provided under a public/private collaborative entity called Hawaii Community Genetics (HCG). Comprehensive care is provided by board certified clinical geneticists, genetic counselors and a genetics nurse. HCG is made possible through the support of the:

  • Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children;
  • Hawaii Department of Health; and
  • University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine.

For more information about any of the above genetic services or activities in Hawaii, please refer to the links in the menu on the right or contact us.

The project is a cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Children with Special Health Needs Program, Genetic Services Branch.