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New approach to cancer control draws closer

15 February 2002 Media Statement

New approach to cancer control draws closer

Health Minister Annette King says a strategic plan to fight cancer in New Zealand will be available for public discussion within a few months.

Ms King today met with members of the country’s Cancer Control Steering Group, which was formed late last year and charged with developing a National Cancer Control Strategy. The steering group is a partnership between the Cancer Control Trust and the Ministry of Health, and consists of experts recognised for their work on aspects of cancer control and treatment.

Their brief is to develop long-term directions for cancer control, as well as measures that can be implemented in the short term to improve services, make better use of available resources, and reduce the incidence and impact of cancer for New Zealanders.

Ms King said the task of developing a Cancer Control Strategy had been greatly facilitated by the Alliance’s commitment.

“The Alliance has long believed in the need for a comprehensive strategy, and I have found the party’s support very important in terms of making the strategy a Government priority.

“New Zealand’s mortality rate for cancer is high in comparison with other OECD countries, and the history of cancer control in this country has sadly been one of fragmentation, lack of agreement on issues, and a previous lack of implementation of a comprehensive strategy,” Ms King said.

“So I am very pleased to have been given an assurance today that the Cancer Control Steering Group will work swiftly to develop long-term solutions for cancer control, and that a collaborative approach is being developed across each aspect of the cancer pathway – from prevention right through to palliative care.”

The steering group today formed five small expert working groups to consider health promotion and prevention activities, screening and early detection, treatment, rehabilitation and support, and palliative care. Each working group will report their recommendations to the steering group, and a draft strategy will go out for consultation to stakeholders and the wider public before being finalised.

Ms King told the steering group there was no time to waste in developing a comprehensive cancer control plan.

Cancer Control Steering Group chairman, and Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, welcomed the Minister’s commitment in the formation of the National Cancer Control Strategy, and her determination for the strategy to be completed within a few months, followed by rapid implementation of the priority areas in the strategy.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death (27 percent) and a major cause of hospitalisation (7 percent) in New Zealand. There are about 17,000 new registrations of cancer each year, with the highest rates in the middle and older age groups.

Membership of the Cancer Control Steering Group comprises:
o Dr Colin Tukuitonga – Chair, Director of Public Health (MoH)
o Dr Chris Atkinson – Deputy Chair (NZCCT), Director of Oncology Services, Christchurch Hospital
o Helen Glasgow – Executive Director of the Quit Group
o Dr Keri Ratima – General Practitioner and member of the Mäori Medical Practitioners Association
o Jan Nichols – Manager of St Joseph’s Mercy Hospice
o Dr Rob Corbett – Medical Director South Island Child Cancer Service
o Dr John Childs – Clinical Director of the Auckland Oncology Service, and Chair of the New Zealand Cancer Treatment Working Party
o Dr Colleen Lewis – General Practitioner
o Glenys Baldick – CEO Nelson Marlborough District Health Board
o Professor John Gavin – (NZCCT Trustee) Executive Director of the New Zealand Cancer Control Trust
o Dr Chris Cunningham – (NZCCT Trustee) Director, Health Research, School of Mäori Studies, Massey University
o Betsy Marshall – (NZCCT Trustee) Policy Advisor, Cancer Society of New Zealand
o Dr Brian Cox – (NZCCT Trustee) Director of the Hugh Adam Epidemiological Unit, Otago University
o Associate Professor John Collins – (NZCCT Trustee) Head of the Breast Cancer Service, Middlemore Hospital
o Dr Colin Feek – Deputy Director-General, Clinical Services (MoH)
o Cynthia Maling – Manager Public Health Policy Group (MoH)


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