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Combating healthcare barriers for Micronesians in Guam

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Guam | 1 comment

The island of Guam continues to see an increasing amount of Micronesian migrants for healthcare as more Micronesians experience health issues such as diabetes, heart issues, and obesity. The Micronesian community has faced several barriers and limitations when it comes to healthcare accessibility ever since the creation of the Compact of Free Association treaties between the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The COFA established a relationship between the United States and Micronesian citizens, allowing migrants to live, work, and have access to medical services. However, this relationship has not always meant secure and stable healthcare accessibility for Micronesian migrants as this issue has developed into various negative impacts on the Micronesian community, from decreasing mortality rates to anti-Micronesian racism. 

In January 2021, Congress approved making Medicaid available to COFA citizens after they had lost it in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. This development has dramatically increased the number of Micronesian migrants coming to Guam as more citizens seek medical services. Though there have been new steps taken to improve the availability and quality of medical care for the Micronesian community, several factors still impose heavy barriers to accessibility. 

One of the biggest factors preventing more of the Micronesian population from coming to Guam is transportation due to high expenses. The next factor is language barriers, making it difficult for Micronesian migrants to communicate their health issues to medical workers. The last major factor is the limited amount of employed Micronesians in the US as many need a job to gain insurance for health services. Not only do these factors affect Micronesians in Guam, but they also heavily affect migrants in the US (aside from Guam, most Micronesians are in Hawai’i) as transportation is even more costly and there are fewer translators. The community of Guam continues to raise awareness on this issue and push for wider access to medical services within the island. To accommodate those who are not able to get healthcare because of transportation, the Mane’lu Micronesian Resource Center One Stop Shop uses its Mobile Access to Information van to the offices’ services into communities to those lacking transportation. Many Guam social workers such as Alex Silverio aim to target the problem of language barriers by requesting healthcare facilities to hire more bilingual employees so communication can become more effective.

Correction: We have updated the article to clarify that the Mobile Access to Information van provides ambulatory services and not transportation. We regret the error.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emily Sauget

Emily Sauget

Emily Sauget is a mixed CHamoru, Filipino, and Vietnamese junior at St. John’s School in Guam. Having been born and raised within the diverse community of Guam, the exposure to various cultures has nurtured her passion for inclusivity and social awareness. Emily is one of the founders and is currently the Advocacy Manager of her school's Humanitarian Club. She spends her time learning to sew, swimming at Guam’s beaches, and cooking Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander dishes. In hopes of contributing to expanding the representation and the overall discussion of Guam and other territories, she is a Guam Affairs Intern Correspondent for Pasquines.

1 Comment

  1. Jacque Pong

    Slightly incorrect info – the MAIvan is not for patient transportation. It’s to bring the offices’s services into communities to those lacking transportation.

    Reply

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