Pacific Islander & Pregnant: How Inclusion Led To Erasure


Since the 1980's the Pacific Islander (P.I.) community has felt the effects of erasure due to their inclusion in the “Asian Pacific Islander” narrative. Rather than being a monolith, there are multiple unique and distinct cultures within the Pacific, and it is a huge disservice to categorize Pacific Islanders in the same racial/cultural group as people of Asian descent, especially when it comes to health disparities. Specifically, in San Francisco, we see that when we separate Pacific Islander birth outcomes from the aggregate data, Samoans, Tongans, and others in the PI community experience some of the highest rates of preterm birth and adverse birth outcomes. Why is this the case and how can providers build cultural competency to improve health outcomes for the PI community?

Join us for our May Collaboratory where our panel of leaders from the Samoan and Tongan communities will share their wisdom and experiences to increase awareness of cultural PI practices and promote ways to support and respect the Pacific Islander community.


Learning Objectives

  • Distinguish and clarify the use and usefulness of racial categories such as Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander
  • Understand how the social/economic environment of the PI community developed due to cultural factors and history of migration
  • Understand the disparities in birth outcomes for the PI community in San Francisco
  • Gain competency on how Pacific Islander culture influences their relationships to health, birth, hospitals, and illness




​Ruta Lauleva Lua'iufi Aiono | Traditional Birth Attendant

Ruta Lauleva Lua'iufi Aiono comes from the villages of Fasito'o-uta and Malie in Western Samoa and from so-called San Francisco in the homelands of the Yelamu & Raymatush Ohlone People. She is a Traditional Birth Attendant with roots in out-of-hospital and home birth, an educator and currently works at the Doula Coordinator for M.A.N.A. Pasefika, the Pacific Islander cohort of the SisterWeb Community Doula Network. She also currently serves on the Community Advisory Board for the UCSF Preterm Birth Initiative and sits on the advisory boards for Expecting Justice, the Abundant Birth Project and the Asian Pacific Islander Breastfeeding Task Force. She is humbled by these opportunities to uplift the experiences of her Pasefika community and she looks forward to a lifetime of supporting families in birthing with dignity and joy. She gives thanks to the babies that call her to serve and to her ancestors who guide and protect her in this work.



Manufou Liaiga-Anoa’i | Pacific Islander Community Partnership

Manufou Liaiga-Anoa’i, warmly known as “Fou” to friends and family. She is a proud San Francisco native and first-generation Samoan-American. Manufou currently serves as the Health and Nutrition Services Manager for Izzi Early Learning Education. Her agency administers Head Start and Early Head Start - Early Childhood Education sites throughout San Mateo County. This past November, she was re-elected to serve her third term on the Jefferson Elementary School District Governing Board in Daly City. For the past ten years, Manufou served as a Commissioner to the San Mateo County and Past Vice President on the Commission of Status Women and has been fortunate to also be a member on the City of Daly City Personnel Board and Arts and Culture Commission, Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center Board and Lowell High School Alumni Board of Directors. In May of 2019, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond appointed her as Co-Chair to the Closing the Gap Initiative where she continues to advocate for equity, inclusion and access. More recently, Manufou joined a collective movement as a member of the Board of Directors on REACH - “Real Equity and Access to Community Health”, also appointed to serve on San Mateo County’s Art Commission as a San Mateo County District 5 Representative and as a Board Member to P.I.E.F.E.S.T - Pacific Islanders Encouraging, Fun, Engineering, Science & Technology. In 2009, she founded a labor of love Pacific Islander Community Partnership whose mission is to “Engage, Educate & Empower Our Pacific Communities” and in 2011 created Camp Unity - Polynesian Pacific Islander Summer Enrichment Program which has served 8,000 Bay Area students over the past ten years. Her leadership has been recognized and celebrated as Woman of the Year in the California Assembly, in the City and County of San Francisco by Mayors Willie Brown and Edwin Lee, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, and nationally through the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to name a few.

Nani Wilson


Nani Wilson | Asian American Recovery Services/HealthRight360

Nani Wilson is a San Francisco native who has been working for Asian American Recovery Services/HealthRight360 for over the past decade and has been part of groundbreaking community work in San Mateo and San Francisco Counties by providing safe spaces for Pacific Islanders to come together and have dialogue around difficult topics. Nani’s hands-on experience with those living and suffering in silence has increased her passion for empowering her community’s voices. She believes that in order for the village to raise a child, a community must do whatever it takes to help provide a safe, nurturing environment so that our youth can flourish into our future leaders. Nani has been teaching culturally specific parenting classes and facilitating community safe spaces to share awareness and dialogue on topics around mental wellness.

Patsy Tito


Patsy Tito |  Executive Director at Samoan Community Development Center

Patsy Tito is a native San Franciscan, born and raised. She has been serving the Samoan and Pacific Islander’s for over 25 years at the Samoan Community Development Center (SCDC) in the Southeast Sector of San Francisco. Providing cultural and innovative programming and services to ensure that the Samoan Culture is thriving and strong for the next generation and generations to come. Patsy Tito’s accomplishments and years of service continue to bring the Pacific Islander communities together so that the voices of her community are heard and the positive movement for a thriving community continues.

We are stronger together.

Anna Masina


Anna Mahina | San Francisco Tongans Rise Up

Founder & Director
Community Advocate