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Cars for health workers - equal access to breast screening

July 8 2013

Cars for health workers target equal access to breast screening

The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation has given 12 cars to breast screening services around the country, to help improve access to screening and diagnostic testing for Maori and Pacific Island women.

The cars, Prius and Avensis models donated by Toyota New Zealand on a two-year lease, have been delivered to “hot spots”– areas where the uptake of mammogram screening is below the 70% target – identified by the BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA) national screening unit.

“While the screening programme has done a wonderful job in enrolling just over 70% of eligible New Zealand women, there are some areas where barriers to access such as poverty, distance or lack of transport have led to a lower uptake,” explained Segolene de Fontenay, corporate fundraising manager at the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. “Sadly, Maori and Pacific Island women have worse breast cancer outcomes, with a mortality rate more than forty percent higher than European women. When Toyota offered us the cars, we jumped at the chance to address these inequities.”

The cars will be used for the next two years by BSA staff and contracted providers, such as district health boards and Maori trusts, in Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, mid-central North Island, Taranaki and Christchurch. Staff will transport women to screening mammograms and, if necessary, to further diagnostic procedures and treatment.

Dr Marli Gregory, clinical leader at BreastScreen Aotearoa, says the cars are an important piece in the jigsaw of improving access to breast screening. “There are still pockets where screening coverage of eligible women could be much higher, and these are the women the cars will help us reach.”

Dr Gregory said that in addition to providing vital transport, the car journey will offer opportunities for one-on-one conversations between women and health workers that might not otherwise happen, potentially leading to overall better understanding and use of health services.

Segolene de Fontenay said the gift would not have been possible without Toyota’s generosity, and the project is an example of effective partnership between the not-for-profit, public and private sectors.

“We believe in trying to make a difference, and we’re convinced the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation’s use of these cars to improve access to screening will make a difference for New Zealand women,” said Steve Prangnell, Toyota New Zealand general manager.

The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that depends on Individual donations, community fundraising, grants from trusts and foundations and partnerships with business for its work in breast cancer education and awareness, medical research and training grants, advocacy, and supporting women with breast cancer. The NZBCF’s programmes are evidence-based, overseen by its medical advisory committee. The pink ribbon symbol is a trademark of the NZBCF in New Zealand.


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