Topic: Health

New initiative used to encourage Māori women to get cervical screen test

By Mānia Clarke
  • Auckland

It's Cervical Screening Awareness Month.

The latest statistics show there's been a decline in the number of Māori women getting themselves tested over the last three years.

Using fairy lights is a new initiative being used to settle nerves when women are having a cervical screen test.

Cynthia Sutcliffe says, “We want to break down those barriers, for those vulnerable woman who find that area tapu. We want to make them feel more comfortable about having their smear done.”

According to statistics, in the last three years there's been a 20% decline in Māori women being tested due to a number of misconceived perceptions.

Ngaire Harris says, “Māori women are still afraid of having a cervical smear done.  Undergoing the test is embarrassing for them.”

West Auckland's Waitematā shows the least number of Māori women getting tested. However, the region's Māori health services are working hard to increase those numbers.

Harris says, “Our focus is to support women to come and get tested by creating a comfortable environment.  It's free for Māori women.

Sutcliffe says, “Still 60 woman die a year and that's a lot of woman that will not be there for their families.”

It's a dangerous hidden disease that can kill if it isn't treated early.

Manuao Graham says, “Be courageous ladies and have your cervical smear done!”