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Bowel Cancer Taskforce established

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health
Hon Damien O’Connor
Associate Minister of Health

12th August 2008 Media Statement

Bowel Cancer Taskforce established

A six-member taskforce has been established to provide advice and recommendations on a programme to improve bowel cancer outcomes for all New Zealanders.

Health Minister David Cunliffe and Associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor said the taskforce will provide guidance on the development and implementation of the bowel cancer screening pilot, which is planned to begin by the end of 2009.

“The Government's objective is to roll out a national bowel cancer screening programme from the end of 2011 and this taskforce will oversee and support the work to achieve that goal,” Mr Cunliffe said.

The taskforce will also be recommending measures to:
• improve screening for groups that have a higher risk of developing bowel cancer,
• improve treatment and diagnostic services for people with bowel cancer, and
• guide the development and implementation of an evaluation framework for the bowel cancer screening programme.

The taskforce will also be responsible for monitoring progress with implementing each part of the bowel cancer work programme.

“A critical part of the Taskforce’s operation will be to make sure there is a workforce ready to begin the screening programme. We have a number of initiatives underway which include: funding district health boards for additional colonoscopy procedures and making sure there is additional training for colonoscopists,” said Mr O’Connor.

Shelley Campbell, Chief Executive of Waikato Primary Health Organisation, has been appointed to chair the taskforce.

Taskforce members include:
• Dr Susan Parry (Gastroenterologist at Middlemore Hospital and Clinical Director of the NZ Familial Gastrointestinal Cancer Registry, Auckland City Hospital)

• Dr John McMenamin (General Practitioner and Clinical Director, Wanganui Regional PHO)
• Teresa Lynch (Charge Nurse Manager of Canterbury District Health Board’s Gastroenterology Day Unit)
• Dr Diana Sarfati (Public Health Medicine Specialist at the University of Otago)
• Chris Atkinson (radiation oncologist at Canterbury DHB and deputy chair of the Cancer Control Council).

Dr John Childs, National Clinical Director of the Ministry of Health's Cancer Programme, will be an ex-officio member of the taskforce.

The taskforce will report to the Minister of Health and the Associate Minister of Health with responsibility for the Cancer Control Strategy. It will be considering the work programme at its first meeting on 14 August 2008.



• About 2700 new cases of bowel cancer are registered in New Zealand each year, which makes it the most common cancer. About 1200 people in New Zealand die annually from the disease, which is one of the highest death rates from bowel cancer in the developed world.

• There are inequalities between population groups with respect to this type of cancer. While Maori are less likely to be diagnosed with bowel cancer, they are more likely to die from it than non-Maori and have poorer survival outcomes.

• More background information on the Government’s decision to develop a bowel cancer screening programme is available on the Ministry’s website:


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