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Green light from Labour for cancer screening programme

David Cunliffe
Labour Leader

14 April 2014

Green light from Labour for cancer screening programme

Labour Leader David Cunliffe has today committed to a national bowel screening programme, starting with extending the current service to the Southern and Waikato districts.

“Around 3000 New Zealanders develop bowel cancer each year and about 1200, or 100 a month, die from it.

“As Minister of Health in 2008 I pushed for the nationwide roll out of bowel cancer screening. Since then National has dragged the chain.

“It has said it will not make any decision on a national screening programme until the Waitemata pilot is completed and all monitoring and evaluation data has been analysed.

“But the results speak for themselves – more than 58,600 people completed a bowel screening test, more than 3200 went on to have a colonoscopy and cancer was detected in 129.

“If testing can prevent deaths there should be no prevaricating.

“Labour plans to begin the roll out next year, starting in Otago-Southland and the Waikato, areas which have a higher than proportionate bowel cancer death rate.

“Initially it will target those aged between 50 and 64, with a view to extending it to 74 in future in similar fashion to Labour’s breast screening campaign.

“The Waitemata programme will continue to screen 50 to 74 year olds.

“The cost across the three DHBs is $14 million a year from $2015/16.

“We will also set out an implementation plan to ensure the smooth roll out of the programme.

“Bowel cancer kills five times as many Kiwis each year than are killed on our roads. Screening results in at least a 15 per cent reduction in the death rate and can prevent 180 deaths a year.

“That’s why I am committed to getting this underway as soon as possible, and commencing a nationwide roll out within the first three years of a Labour Government,” David Cunliffe said.


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