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Cancer Control Projects Focus of Symposium

Cancer Control Projects The Focus of National Symposium

A two day Ministry of Health-sponsored symposium will highlight new initiatives underway to implement the New Zealand Cancer Control Strategy.

Last year, the Ministry of Health made just over a million dollars available to DHBs and non-government organisations to undertake cancer control projects which furthered implementation of the NZ Cancer Control Strategy Action Plan. The final projects cover seven main areas - cancer information, support and rehabilitation, patient journeys through the cancer experience, palliative care, treatment services, regional planning, and development of regional cancer networks.

This symposium sees all 23 projects come together to share what has been learned so far.

Dr John Childs, the Ministry of Health’s Principal Advisor Cancer Control, says that funding for these projects came from a larger pool of funding announced by Government in March 2005. The projects were funded for a period of six months.

“The focus of these projects is on patient experiences and cancer services. This complements work already taking place on primary prevention of cancer.”

Dr Childs says that the final reports submitted to the Ministry show many issues are shared across the country.The symposium will investigate those and be a chance for health professionals to share their learnings and take on board new ideas.

"One concern is the ongoing inequality in incidence of and mortality from cancer between Maori and non-Maori. The projects suggest that current services are not adequately catering for the needs of Maori cancer patients and their whanau. This is one area where we know further work needs to be undertaken," says Dr John Childs.

Other issues highlighted include access difficulties for people living in rural areas. Rural patients and their families experience significant inequalities in their cancer experiences due to this. One project the Ministry funded looks at the journey of treatment and care for people on the West Coast. The pilot found that travelling is a major barrier to treatment and care and alters peoples’ choices about treatment.

John Childs says the West Coast District Health Board plans to discuss the findings of their project with the West Coast community later this month.”

"The symposium will also provide an update on the development of regional cancer networks, which is a priority of the Cancer Control Strategy action plan. Meetings have been held since early 2006 across the country to discuss how a regional cancer network would function. Once fully up and running, regional cancer networks will provide a formal structure to improve the coordination of care for patients between cancer services", says Dr Childs.


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