This summer has been full of action for the Hawai‘i Oral Health Coalition! Hawai‘i Public Health Institute (HIPHI) has collaboratively been working with Hawai‘i Children’s Action Network and Oral Health for All Hawai‘i to convene the oral health community over the past year following the Hawai‘i State Department of Health’s loss of funding for oral health activities.

Unfortunately, Hawai’i experiences some of the worst oral health in the nation. Members of the oral health community are working tirelessly to advocate for change but, until now, have not had a cohesive community voice. From this need, the Hawai‘i Oral Health Coalition was born. The Hawai‘i Oral Health Coalition now strives to unite the oral health community under one vision and mission to improve the health and wellbeing of Hawai’i residents by increasing access and equity in oral health care.

This June, 30 community leaders participated in an all-day facilitated meeting to develop the Hawai‘i Oral Health Coalition vision, mission, values, and priorities. From that meeting, six working groups convened to further develop the coalition structure.  In August, 38 community leaders participated in a half-day facilitated meeting to vote on key charter elements including fiscal sponsorship by HIPHI, and coalition advocacy priorities for 2020. Coalition members will advocate for Adult Dental Medicaid Benefit reinstatement and keiki dental benefit utilization in 2020 as well as participate in committees such as workforce development, surveillance, access and prevention, and advocacy. Oral health coalitions will form on the neighboring islands of Hawai’i, Maui, and Kaua’i this fall.

Momentum for the Hawai‘i Oral Health Coalition is surging and we look forward to continued growth! The next steps for the coalition include formalized membership processing and the inaugural Hawai‘i Oral Health Coalition meeting on October 29, 2019.

Please contact Nicole Nakashima at nicole@hiphi.org for more information on becoming a member.