Another march towards Pharmac funding

By Tema Hemi
  • Wellington

The Medavivors breast cancer survivors group today took another step towards gaining government funding for cancer treatments for suffering New Zealanders.  Breast cancer sufferer Wiki Maholland is as determined than ever to live her life on her own terms.

The fight against cancer rages on for these survivors, who say they will continue until the war is won.     

Mulholland says, "I just hope and pray that my daughter, my granddaughters or whoever might be coming next. doesn't have to have the same fight that we're having."

It's been six months since their first petitions and on the 20th of March Medavivor members made submissions to the Health Select Committee but still no critical progress is being made.

One Medavivor says, "It's so important that we highlight how broken the system is."

Another says, "The message is that Pharmac's system is broken and there needs to be funding for these drugs that prolong and saves lives."

"Take care of your people," another implores. 

Figures released by the Ministry of Health last month show more than 9,500 people died from cancer each year, representing 31 percent of all deaths recorded in New Zealand.

The spectrum of political parties was represented at today's march. 

Minister Iain Lees-Galloway spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"Pharmac is a construct that we create here at parliament so we have the role of making sure that it works as well as it can."

Co-leader of the National Party Paula Bennett said, "What sort of got me was looking at so many faces and i can see you struggling to have hope in us".

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said, "This is not a time for politicians to start making you promises, other than to say we've heard what you've had to say today."

Leader of the Act Party David Seymour said, "I believe that we have suffered a prejudice against pharmaceuticals for too long."

And finally, co-leader of the Greens, Marama Davidson said, "I can guarantee that I will take your voices, the struggles and challenges that you have faced to the decision-making tables."

The road to recovery has been a daily struggle for Mulholland, but those less fortunate who have passed on are a reminder to her of her purpose.    

"I was diagnosed one year ago on May 4th so its been a good time to reflect on things and one thing that I always keep in the front of my mind is that no other family should have to go through this."

Mullholland says she is concerned that the government is still treating this as a clinical decision that needs to be made, and believes it's more about leadership.