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Government fast tracks Colorectal Screening

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health

Hon Damien O’Connor
Associate Minister of Health

29th May 2008 Media Statement

Government fast tracks Colorectal Screening

The Government has decided to fast track the creation of a national Colorectal cancer screening programme .

The Minister of Health, David Cunliffe and the Associate Minister of Health Damien O’Connor said today that they were committed to acting as quickly as possible to set up a test for Colorectal cancer which is our second biggest killer cancer .

“This is a cancer that is amenable to early detection because in many cases it is slow to spread and very treatable”.

“We are committed to getting this up and running as quickly as possible, under close Ministerial supervision “, said Mr Cunliffe.

Associate Minister of Health, Mr Damien O’Connor said that screening programmes are not just about a test, but about a whole pathway of care and treatment.

“We need to be confident that there are enough resources to deal with the demand of a new screening programme. For example, at least 20 extra clinicians are needed to perform colonoscopies for the national programme. We have asked the Ministry of Health to continue their work to build a strong workforce in parallel with the development of a programme”.

“New Zealand has the advantage of lessons from other countries, and I want to use that advantage to the fullest. In New South Wales it took two and a half years to set up their pilot programme. We will set ours up quicker “said Mr O’Connor .

Around 2,700 New Zealanders develop colorectal or bowel cancer every year and about 1,200 die from it. Colorectal cancer affects both genders and while it is not as prevalent in Maori and Pacific populations there is a higher mortality rate amongst Maori.

The Former Minister of Health, Pete Hodgson approved a paper in March 2007 which set up the groundwork for the feasibility study.


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