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Turia: Speech - Well Women's Promotion Programme

1 October 2004

Hon Tariana Turia - Launching the Well Women’s Promotion Programme Te Wakahuia, Midcentral Health Cervical screening and Breastscreening Friday 1 October

Rau Rangatira ma, tenei te mihi ki a koutou i runga i te kaupapa o te ra.

Tena koutou nga mana whenua o tenei rohe, nga poutokomanawa o tenei hui whakahirahira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutoa katoa.

- I have huge pleasure in being here to celebrate Well Women! Congratulations to Dell and her team for honouring whanau ora: in promoting the health and well-being of our women.

- Tangata whenua have the right to the highest attainable hauora, waiora and mauri ora, commensurate with whanau, hapu and iwi definitions of health and well-being.

- We need to always set our sights on achieving excellence in our health outcomes, and in utilising the health knowledge and practices of whanau, hapu and iwi to ensure the progress is sustainable.

- We are the ones that best know our bodies, that best know the legacy of health issues that have impacted on our whakapapa; so we are the ones that need to establish outcomes to achieve whanau ora.

- We need to achieve this in the context of being well-informed about the challenges that confront us from being well-women.

- Each year approximately 2,300 New Zealand women develop breast cancer. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for females in New Zealand.

- Around 420 women aged 40 to 49 are diagnosed each year with breast cancer and around 90 women in this age group die from breast cancer. There is some evidence that women aged 40 to 49 may benefit from regular mammographic screening for breast cancer.

- I know it’s not the most enjoyable of experiences – I won’t pretend it is – but being fully informed and aware of our bodies is surely worth the ‘discomfort’.

- I’m not normally one to brandish figures, but I am impressed by the fact that an individual woman who is screened regularly can reduce her risk of dying early from breast cancer by between 21% and 46%. To me, that’s a wonderful statistic to inspire me to make that effort to stay well.

- We’re here today, to talk particularly about the importance of taking care of our health as tangata whenua. Despite a similar risk of developing breast cancer, Mäori women have a higher risk of death from breast cancer than non-Mäori women, particularly below the age of 60 years . Do we just accept that? Or do we ask, why?

- One of the most obvious reasons for this difference, is that the percentage of eligible women participating in the breast screening programme is much lower for Mäori women than non-Mäori non Pacific women (between 2001 and 2003 coverage was 64.8% percent versus 42.7% for Mäori women).

- Talking about our tinana, exposing our most personal body parts, is not something that we feel particularly happy to share with any one, let alone a medical professional.

- This is even more so the case in matters of our whare tangata.

- As you will be well aware, fewer Maori and Pacific women are having cervical smears and this puts them more at risk of developing cervical cancer.

- Cancer of the cervix is one of the most preventable cancers.

- Around 90 percent of all cases of the most common form of cervical cancer could be prevented if women had smear tests every three years.

- A cervical smear test is a screening test to find abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. An abnormal cervical smear test result hardly ever means cancer.

- It’s all about attitude.

- It may be news to Mr Mallard, but tangata whenua recognise that our women are the poutokomanawa of our whanau.

- Any intervention that can prevent the development of cancer is our right and our responsibility to take care of each other.

- The other day I travelled from Tauranga to Rotorua with a kuia and her husband. I was so proud of their daughter as I listened to the three of them talking about the fact that they had changed their regular check-ups from six months to three months, so that they could really be sure they were taking the best care of themselves.

- What their daughter was doing was to promote the importance of wellness and wellbeing, so that her Mum and Dad – and ultimately her whanau – can anticipate a future of living in the best of health.

- My challenge here today, would be for us, to have the courage to do what was happening in this whanau – to talk about your health as easily as you would talk about the weather; and in the case of today’s launching - to have regular cervical and breast smears as an important element of looking after our overall health for us and our whanau.

- Of course, all our best efforts can fail if we don’t have the right support behind us, and that support should be appropriately resourced by the National Cervical Screening Programme, and by Breastcreening Aotearoa.

- It is vital that smear taking services are culturally appropriate and accessible for our women, and that we have Mäori-appropriate independent monitoring to review the data.

- As tangata whenua, we have the right to control preventive and curative health systems and the programmes that are delivered in Mâori communities. This includes the need to train and involve Mâori personnel in all facets of health.

- I want to congratulate Te Wakahuia, Mid Central Health’s Cervical Screening and Breast Screening Coast to Coast for your initiative in establishing the Well-Women’s Programme.

- I remember being here to launch your new Cervical Screening programme in 2003 and want to really acknowledge the great work Te Wakahuia is doing with our people.

- I love your mission statement, to “improve the health status of Mâori by focusing in identified issues affecting whânau”. Your work with whanau and with tamariki is really important work.

- Breast-screening, cervical screening, health promotion works best when it works with all of us, united in purpose and direction.

- We need to restore to ourselves, our collective commitment to take up the rights and reciprocal obligations consistent with being part of a collective. We need to promote the need to demonstrate care, to foster great health, and to stand strong for our wellbeing and that of our future generations.

Na reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.

ENDS

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