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$164m new funding for cancer immunisation

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister
Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health
Hon Steve Chadwick
Associate Minister of Health

2 May 2008 Media Statement

Embargoed until 1pm Friday 2 May 2008

$164m new funding for cancer immunisation programme announced

Prime Minister Helen Clark, Health Minister David Cunliffe, and Associate Health Minister Steve Chadwick today announced that the Labour-led Government has committed $164.2 million new funding over five years to a major immunisation programme to fight cervical cancer.

“The human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation programme will be offered free to more than 300,000 young women aged 12 to 18 years over the next five years. It will be rolled out from September.

“Trials have shown that this vaccine is highly effective against the most common causes of cervical cancer – two types of the HPV virus,” Helen Clark said.

“This immunisation programme is expected to save around thirty lives a year. We also expect to see a reduction in the number of abnormal smear results, which means that fewer women will have to go through the stress of receiving an abnormal smear result, as well as of the extra tests, diagnoses, and invasive procedures which can follow such a result.

“On top of the $164.2 million, the Ministry of Health will be investing up to another $13 million from within its baseline to the programme, making the total five year investment around $177 million.”

Helen Clark said that over the last nine years the Labour-led Government had made a huge commitment to ensuring that health services were accessible for all New Zealanders.

“Having this new vaccine offered free in our schools will ensure that all eligible young women have the opportunity to be protected against the most common causes of cervical cancer.”

David Cunliffe said that the programme sits well alongside other Labour-led Government health initiatives, particularly the focus on primary care and prevention of illnesses. It also supports the Cancer Control Strategy and its goal of preventing cancer through primary prevention.

“Most cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. The trials for the vaccine we will use in this programme show that we have a vaccine which is highly effective in protecting women from the main cancer-causing strains of HPV”, David Cunliffe said.

Steve Chadwick said that it will still be important for those who get the vaccine to take part in the screening programme in future.

“While this vaccine protects against the most common causes of cervical cancer, it does not protect against all the causes.

“Now that the funding for the programme has been confirmed, its rollout can be finalised.

“From 1 September this year, all young women born in 1990 and 1991 can make an appointment and begin HPV immunisation from their family doctor or practice nurse or health clinic.

“From 2009, the vaccine will be incorporated into the routine immunisation schedule for year 8 girls (age 12 – 13),” Steve Chadwick said.


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