Development of the Tongan American Health Professionals Association: Sharing, Mentoring and Networking for Community Health

Calif J Health Promot. 2010;8:73-83.


Introduction: Tongan-Americans face severe disparities in health including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Educational disparities also affect health opportunities and well-being, influencing health status and community capacity to address disparities. Few resources have been identified within the Tongan-American community to address these concerns. The Tongan American Health Professionals Association (TAHPA) was conceived to identify and develop health and health career resources for the Tongan community. Through TAHPA, the Tongan-American community is utilizing a community-empowerment approach to address disparities and well-being.

Methods: TAHPA was formed in 2008 through the leadership of individuals with a vision of a healthier Tongan-American community. TAHPA's purpose was to inspire and empower the Tongan-American community by developing an organization of Tongan-American health care professionals and pre-professionals, celebrating their accomplishments, and providing resources and support for educational and career development. Founders gathered in small work groups in community settings to discuss health concerns, well-being and solutions. Key community members facilitated the process to establish goals and objectives.

Next steps: To date, 40 Tongan health professionals and pre-professionals have become members. TAHPA's vision and outreach processes have been developed. TAHPA's uniqueness and strength is that it is rooted in the community, created by the community to serve the community.

Keywords: Community-based; Diversity in health professions; Mentoring; Tongan.