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Chadwick: HPV Programme Launch

Hon Steve Chadwick
Associate Minister of Health


1 September 2008 Speech
HPV Programme Launch: one for the girls

Speech by Associate Minister of Health Steve Chadwick at the launch of the HPV Immunisation Programme.
St Paul Street Gallery,
Auckland University of Technology,
St Paul Street,
Auckland Central.

Rau rangatira mā, tēnei te mihi ki a koutou i runga i te kaupapa o te rā.

Ko Te Mata taku maunga
Ko Tukituki taku awa
Ko Tau iwi
Ko ngati pakeha ahau
Ko Steve Chadwick taku ingoa

No reira. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā rā tātou katoa.

Thank you for inviting me to this launch, at the start of the new cervical cancer vaccination programme.

Thank you Dr Denis Jury, and your Auckland District Health Board Planning and Funding team, and congratulations for taking such an innovative approach to health promotion in your community.

Thanks also to the DHB Communications team for sowing the seed and helping this project grow. Your close work with the students and mentoring is appreciated.

Joseph Peart, thank you, this must be a proud day for you.

And, of course, thank you to Emma, Daniel, Matt, Claire, Mary-Lou and Rebecca – your project is the reason we are here today.

I am so impressed with your work. It is fantastic to see young people finding the best ways to communicate with other young people. You are going to make a difference in this campaign. You’re clever, you’re capable and you are creative – it’s a great contrast to the technical side of the HPV story.

Your “One for the Girls” campaign will reach young women in your area, and will be an effective way of connecting with the those who will benefit from the immunisation programme.

It is great to be part of such a positive initiative in the fight against cervical cancer.

It is exactly 20 years since the Cartwright Report was released, and my generation can still remember the horror we felt when we first discovered the facts of the “unfortunate experiment”.

One of the many significant changes that this report led to was the establishment of the National Cervical Screening Programme in 1990. Since then, the incidence of cervical cancer has been reduced by around 50 per cent.

Fifty per cent! It’s a huge achievement in 20 years!

Looking back, I feel deeply for all those women, and their families, who were too late to benefit from this screening programme.

Looking forward, I have great hope that the young women of today and tomorrow – you, our daughters and granddaughters – will be far better protected from cervical cancer than any generation before.

This vaccination programme is the latest weapon to reduce the impact of cervical cancer, and fits hand-in-hand with our important screening programme. Studies show that the vaccine can prevent a massive 70 per cent of the infections that cause cervical cancer. The combination of the vaccination programme, plus screening, will give New Zealand women the best chance of avoiding cervical cancer.

Each year, approximately 160 women in New Zealand are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 60 women die from it. Eventually, we expect this new programme to save more than 30 lives each year, and thousands of abnormal smear results. I am proud to be part of this initiative that will awhi and protect our wahine.

In May, the Prime Minister announced around $177 million of funding for the HPV immunisation programme that will benefit more than 300,000 young women over the next five years. From today, 17 and 18 year old women can start their three-dose course of this vaccine for free, by simply making an appointment with their family doctor, practice nurse or health clinic.

That means more than 50,000 young New Zealand women now have access to the latest weapon in the fight against this, one of the most preventable cancers.

From next year, it will be offered free to young women from the age of 12, and most will be able to get the vaccine at school. We’ve made it as simple as possible for our rangitahi to access this protection.

The vaccine was shown to be safe and effective during large clinical trials in which more than 20,000 people from 30 countries took part.

Three doses of the vaccine provide protection for at least five years, and studies indicate that protection is likely to last longer. At this stage, international experts believe that a booster dose will not be necessary and ongoing monitoring of the duration of protection is continuing.

There are some excellent Ministry of Health resources here today. I encourage you to take a look at them, and urge young women and their parents to use these to help them discuss immunisation and decide about vaccinating.

I encourage young women to get informed, using credible sources, make an appointment with their doctor or health clinic, and to help protect themselves against cervical cancer now.

Cervical cancer is preventable, and we should do all we can to protect our young women.

Thank you.


ENDS

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