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Cancer control appointments underline commitment

4 May 2005 Media Statement

Cancer control appointments underline commitment

Health Minister Annette King says the appointment of members to the new Cancer Control Council and of the first Principal Advisor Cancer Control underlines the Government’s commitment to battling a disease that kills one in four New Zealanders.

"We know that at least one-third of cancer can be prevented, and we also know that early detection and effective treatment of a further third of cancer is also possible,” Ms King said today.

"To achieve those objectives, however, we must take a strategic approach toward all cancer services. This new council and the new position of Principal Advisor will ensure New Zealand maintains the strong strategic focus the Government has already put in place with adoption of a Cancer Control Strategy and funding of the $40 million first stage of the Cancer Control Action plan, announced in March.”

Ms King says she is delighted that Auckland District Health Board clinical adviser and radiation oncologist Dr John Childs has accepted the position of Principal Advisor Cancer Control. "With over 25 years experience in clinical oncology and radiotherapy, John is respected as one of our foremost specialists."

"That expertise, and his extensive network of contacts, will be invaluable as he drives implementation of the Cancer Control Strategy and the action plan that underpins it. He will be based within the Ministry of Health and will report directly to me, as well as to the Director-General.

“The Government does not, however, expect Dr Childs to deliver single-handedly. I have also appointed nine members to the Cancer Control Council, to be chaired by former Governor-General Dame Catherine Tizard. The council will oversee implementation of the strategy, which is our road map for trying to reduce the incidence and impact of the disease, and to reduce inequalities with respect to cancer. It will table an annual report in Parliament each year.”

Ms King says the council will provide independent strategic advice to her as Minister, to the Director-General, to DHBs and NGOs. "It is also charged with fostering collaboration and co-operation between bodies involved in cancer control, and promoting and supporting best practice in, and an evidence-based approach to, improving the effectiveness of cancer control.”

Members of the council are: Dame Catherine Tizard (chair), Dr Chris Atkinson (deputy chair), Associate Professor Tony Blakely, Ms Yvonne Boyes, Dr Garry Forgeson, Professor John Gavin, Ms Helen Glasgow, Dr Scott Macfarlane and Dr Beverly Lawton. All the appointments take effect today.


Dame Catherine Tizard has held public offices for 35 years. She was Governor-General of New Zealand (1990-96), Mayor of Auckland (1983 –1990) and an Auckland City councilor (1971-1983). Dame Catherine is currently Director of the Project K Trust, Chairperson of the Sir Edmund Hillary Trust, and Acting Chair of the Kiri Te Kanawa Trust. Over the last 10 years, Dame Catherine has chaired or been a member or Trustee of approximately 30 boards/committees. She has received many honours, including the Order of New Zealand in 2002.

Dr Christopher Atkinson is an oncologist at Canterbury DHB, where he was Head of Radiation Oncology from 1984-2004, and has been an Associate Professor in Medicine from 2000 to the present. Dr Atkinson has been closely involved in the development of a cancer control strategy for New Zealand. He was Chair of the 1993-94 advisory committee to the Director-General of Health on the need for a national cancer control programme, member of the Cancer Control Consortium taskforce (1997-2000), Deputy Chair of the New Zealand Cancer Control Trust (2001-04), Deputy Chair of the New Zealand Cancer Control Working Party (2000-03) and Chair of the New Zealand Cancer Control Taskforce (2003-present). Dr Atkinson has authored or co-authored more than fifty book chapters and refereed journal articles.

Dr Tony Blakely is Associate Professor of Public Health at the Wellington School of Medicine, University of Otago, and has an extensive background in public health research and epidemiology. His specialties are social epidemiology, including the association of ethnicity and social factors with mortality and health; and cancer epidemiology, especially as related to ethnicity and socio-economic position. He has received numerous research grants from the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the Ministry of Health. Dr Blakely was a member of the New Zealand Health Survey Advisory Committee in 2001.

Ms Yvonne Boyes has over 30 years experience in nursing, including working as an Oncology Resource Nurse from 1990-2001. She has been a Clinical Nurse Educator at the Waiariki Polytechnic in Rotorua from 2004, and has recently been named Director of Nursing at Waipuna Hospice. She completed the Te Omanga Hospice modules in palliative care in 1995 and in 1999 obtained a Graduate Certificate in Paediatric Palliative Care from the Auckland University of Technology. Ms Boyes also has a postgraduate Certificate in Health Management from Waikato University (2004). She has been a member of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board since 2001 and the Chair of the DHB’s Community and Public Health Committee.

Dr Garry Forgeson is a specialist clinical oncologist and has been Head of Oncology at Palmerston North Hospital for 17 years. Dr Forgeson has chaired local, regional and national divisions of the New Zealand Cancer Society. From 1988-1999 Dr Forgeson was a member and chair of the Manawatu Cancer Society of New Zealand. Dr Forgeson is currently the President of the Cancer Society of New Zealand Central Districts Division (2002-present) and is also a current member of the Cancer Society of New Zealand National Board. Dr Forgeson was a member of the Cancer Control Taskforce (2003-2004).

Professor John Gavin is currently Executive Director of the Cancer Control Trust and Emeritus Professor of Pathology at the University of Auckland. He has been closely involved with the Cancer Control Strategy throughout its development. Professor Gavin was senior author of two background papers prepared for the Ministry of Health in 2001, a member of the Cancer Control Steering Group and the Cancer Control Taskforce. In addition, he has extensive experience in the monitoring and review of processes, programmes and institutions, particularly in the tertiary education and health research sectors. Current roles include member of the Health Research Council Cancer Control Research Strategy Steering Committee, member of the board of the New Zealand Dental Research Foundation, and trustee of the Genesis Oncology Trust.

Ms Helen Glasgow has been the Executive Director for the Quit Group since 2000, and for the previous ten years was Manager, Health Promotion for the Cancer Society of New Zealand. Ms Glasgow is interested in promoting healthy lifestyles, and has knowledge in the areas of melanoma prevention and early detection, nutrition and tobacco control. Ms Glasgow was a member of the Cancer Control Steering Group (2002-2003), a member of the Public Health Association for six years (1998-2004), and has been Chair and Vice Chair of the Smokefree Coalition (1996-2003).

Dr Scott Macfarlane has 25 years experience as a paediatrician and paediatric oncologist. Dr Macfarlane is currently an oncologist at Starship Children’s Hospital. Prior to taking sabbatical leave in 2003 to study paediatric oncology practice in the United Kingdom, Dr Macfarlane was the Clinical Leader of Oncology at Starship Children’s Hospital. Dr Macfarlane is currently a Trustee on the Ronald McDonald House Trust and from 2001-2003 was a Trustee for Westkids.

Dr Beverly Lawton is currently a Senior Research Fellow in Women’s Health at the Department of General Practice Wellington School of Medicine and Health Science (2002-present). Since 1994, Dr Lawson has been Director of the Wellington Menopause Clinic. Dr Lawton has researched and published extensively about menopause, hormone replacement therapy, and Mäori women and menopause. Dr Lawton was a member of the Capital and Coast District Health Board (2000-2002) and National Ethics Committee on Assisted Human Reproduction. In 2004, Dr Lawton was awarded the NZ Order of Merit for services to Women’s Health. Dr Lawton identifies herself as Mäori.


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