August 2, 2002
Alvin T. Onaka, Ph.D. State Registrar and Chief of the Office of
Health Status Monitoring of the Hawaii Department of Health was
recently elected President of the National Association for Public
Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) at their 69th
Annual Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.
Onaka is the first NAPHSIS president elected from the State of
Hawaii in the 69-year history of the organization. The Association was
founded in 1933 and represents health and vital statistics officials
from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, New York City and the
U.S. Territories. Their national headquarters is in Washington,
NAPHSIS under Onaka’s leadership is planning to celebrate its
70th anniversary with a meeting in New York City in 2003
focusing on International Cooperation in Health and Vital Statistics.
Building on last year’s theme of "9/11: Vital and Health
Statistics Lessons Learned," Onaka will be working with Canada, Mexico,
the United Nations and the U.S. Government to re-engineer the national
and international vital and health statistics systems to be prepared
against threats of international terrorism, identity fraud, and the
electronic registration of birth and death vital events.
Involvement in international activities is not new for Onaka. Before
returning home in 1981 he worked for the U.S. National Academy of
Sciences as a Research Associate in the Department of Epidemiology and
Statistics at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima,
Japan for two years. Between 1974 and 1978 he worked for the U.S.
Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C. from where he
traveled to over 60 countries working on population and health projects
mostly in the less developed countries of Africa, Latin America, the
Middle East, and Asia.
Onaka is a graduate of Iolani School and received a doctoral degree
from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as a Population Council
Fellow in Demography. He has done postgraduate work in Epidemiology at
the University of Minnesota. Nationally, he is an adviser to the
National Death Index and chaired the U.S. Standard Death Certificate
Revision Committee for the National Center for Health Statistics,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Locally, he has been on the
affiliate graduate faculty of the Population Studies Program at the
University of Hawaii at Manoa since 1982. He also serves on the Health
Science Advisory Committee of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Cancer
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