Government aims to improve cancer treatment

By Heeni Brown

Cancer is the leading cause of death in New Zealand, and the Government is now prioritising the disease.

Nearly every cancer patient will have to receive treatment within 62 days under an ambitious three-year plan, but what does that mean for Māori?

At the heart of the Health Ministers three year cancer plan is a 62-day Faster Cancer Treatment Target, where the target monitors the whole journey from the initial tests through to all forms of treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and radiology.

Edith and Wendy  helped start the Whānau Ora Cancer Navigation Services with the Waitemata DHB and Waipareira in 2006 and a service that continues to be run by Waipareira Health Services.

Edith has just undergone treatment for cervical cancer, and Wendy has helped her through it as an advocate on her behalf.

They both caution the Government's three year plan needs to have some focus for Māori who are affected heavily by Cancer.

Around $500 million was spent a year on diagnosing and treating cancer, which amounted to 6 per cent of the public health budget.

At present, around 60% of cancer patients were treated within 62 days and by July 2016 they hope to have that number climb to 85%.