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National Breast Screening Programme

National Breast Screening Programme

The National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) has, over a number of years, been a strong advocate of the National Breast Screening Programme in its present form, providing women between the ages of 50 and 64 with free mammograms. NCWNZ has also advocated changing the target group to include women aged 40 to 70 years.

NCWNZ is, therefore, pleased that the Minister of Health, the Hon. Annette King has announced an extension of the Programme to include women from 45 to 49 years and 65 to 70 years together with those women outside the eligible age group who are considered at “high risk” of developing breast cancer. It is also pleasing to see that the Minister will continue to review the age for eligibility and consider dropping this to include those women from the age of 40. NCWNZ is supportive of the “use of the BSA (Breast Screen Aotearoa) mobile mammography services to include women at high risk of developing breast cancer and who are unable to access a fixed mammography site in their community.” We are also pleased to hear that the Minister is also considering allowing other rural women who do not fall into the target group to be able to access mammography services. We applaud and encourage this move as many rural women have a great deal of difficulty accessing such services

However, NCWNZ continues to be concerned that treatment times need to be reduced so that the advantages of early detection are not compromised. NCWNZ recognises the need to have the appropriate workforce in place to administer both the service and treatment required when further women enter the Programme and look forward to 1 July 2004 when this will begin.

It was commendable that the Hon. Ruth Dyson, Minister for Women’s Affairs and for Senior Citizens supported the extension of this Programme.

NCWNZ looks forward to all future developments in this field.

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