Delivering better cancer care for New Zealanders

World Cancer Day tomorrow is a perfect time to take stock of our progress so far in delivering improved cancer prevention and care for New Zealanders, Health Minister Dr David Clark says.

“Cancer will likely affect every single one of us at some point, either directly or through family members and friends,” David Clark said.

“New Zealanders deserve world class cancer care and while most people receive that, our standard of care is variable and we need to do more to ensure better outcomes for Māori and Pacific people.

“We have more work to do but over the last two years we have made good progress that we can build on for the future.

“In December, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and I delivered on our pre-election promise for better central leadership and coordination of cancer by establishing a Cancer Control Agency.

“It’s fantastic to see how our new agency, led by Professor Diana Sarfati, is working hard on its 100-day workplan to enable it to drive improvements in cancer control nationwide. 

“Today, we’ve also released our updated New Zealand Cancer Action Plan 2019-29, which better reflects the voices of people whose lives are affected by cancer. 

 “I want to thank the more than 380 individuals and organisations who shared their knowledge and experiences during public consultation late last year.

“I’m pleased their extensive feedback broadly supports the plan’s direction and includes ways to strengthen our country’s cancer control, which have been added to the plan. 

“I’m also delighted that the $60m funding boost for PHARMAC last year is making a difference with five new cancer medicines funded since then.

“I also want to acknowledge PHARMAC’s recent announcement about palbociclib (marketed as Ibrance) for first-line and second-line treatment of certain types of breast cancer. The decision to undertake consultation on its funding is highly significant and could ultimately benefit more than 2000 New Zealanders in its first year.

“Better access to treatment is also why we’ve Investing in 12 new linear accelerators for radiation treatment, including plans to put machines in Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and Northland for the first time. 

“It’s great news that the first of two new linear accelerators will be operational in Palmerston North by May and the second in place and operational later this year. 

“In addition, the National Bowel Screening Programme continues to roll out to more DHBs and is proving its worth. Recently it passed the milestone of the 500th cancer detected. That means 500 New Zealanders’ chances of survival and recovery from this disease have been improved thanks to early detection and treatment.

“Today’s publication of our finalised plan, alongside the work of the agency, PHARMAC and the wider health sector, is part of a determined ongoing team effort to improve cancer outcomes for New Zealanders which will continue to deliver for years to come,” David Clark said.