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Southern DHB joins life-saving bowel screening programme

Southern DHB joins life-saving bowel screening programme

24 April 2018

Otago and Southland are the latest communities in the country to have access to free bowel screening with Southern District Health Board today joining the National Bowel Screening Programme.

The first of a number of events to mark the occasion was held this morning at Dunedin Hospital, attended by the Clinical Director of the National Bowel Screening Programme, Dr Susan Parry. Dr Parry says that every month around 100 men and women in New Zealand die from bowel cancer so the introduction of bowel screening is a really important initiative that will save lives.

“Southern DHB has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the country and there is no doubt that this programme will reduce the impact of this disease for individuals and their families in these communities,” Dr Parry says.

Over the next two years 51,000 people, aged 60 to 74 years, will be invited to participate in bowel screening in the district and more than 100 cases of bowel cancer are expected to be found. About 80% of New Zealanders diagnosed with bowel cancer are over the age of 60 years.

Dr Parry says Southern DHB staff, along with primary care organisations, have put a huge effort into meeting Ministry requirements to ‘go live’ and she wants to thank all those people who have been involved in making this possible.

“DHBs have to meet a rigorous checklist ensuring facilities, staffing and systems are up to scratch before they can start bowel screening. We need to ensure that once screening starts, colonoscopy services and treatment facilities are in place to cope with the inevitable spike in demand in the early stages of the programme.

“We fully appreciate that this is no small ask for DHB’s. However, the enthusiasm and commitment of health professionals to introduce bowel screening reflects the fact that they are keen to see bowel cancer diagnosed at an earlier stage when better outcomes can be anticipated. They appreciate that bowel screening is the only way to achieve this,” Dr Parry says.

Southern is the first DHB in the South Island to become part of the national programme and will join Waitemata, Hutt valley and Wairarapa DHBs - this is a significant milestone that should be acknowledged. Counties Manukau is expected to join by June 30, followed by Nelson-Marlborough, Lakes and Hawkes Bay. The nationwide roll-out of the National Bowel Screening Programme is expected to be completed by the end of June 20/21.

More information about bowel cancer and the national programme can be found here


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