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Funding for bowel cancer screening pilot

Budget 2010: Funding for bowel cancer screening pilot

The Government has announced a bowel cancer screening pilot costing $24 million over the next four years which will be funded in the Budget this month.

"Bowel cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand,” Health Minister Tony Ryall says. “In 2007 almost 3,000 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer and 1,252 people died from the disease."

"A nationwide bowel cancer screening programme could ensure earlier treatment for those identified with cancer and could, over time, reduce the death rate by up to 36%, saving up to 270 lives each year."

"This pilot will give us a clear idea of the sector's ability to do the required colonoscopies in the future, and the costs and benefits of rolling out a full national bowel cancer screening programme," Mr Ryall says. "Such a programme, once established, could cost around $60 million per year."

"A significant constraint is the workforce to deal with expected future demand for colonoscopies. The Ministry of Health's and District Health Boards' bowel cancer programme teams will continue to work on strengthening existing colonoscopy services and building the workforce in this area."

The Ministry will seek Expressions of Interest from providers to run the programme which is expected to cover a minimum of 60,000 people aged 50 to 74 years.

This is the same approach taken with other screening programmes in New Zealand and internationally. The four year long pilot is expected to start later next year.

At the end of the four years, a full evaluation will determine whether the programme is rolled out nationally.


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