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Tukuitonga Takes Key Role On Cervical Cancer Audit

9 April 2002

Dr Colin Tukuitonga Takes Key Role On Cervical Cancer Audit

Director-General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi today announced that Director of Public Health Dr Colin Tukuitonga has been appointed to replace Dr Julia Peters on the Audit of Invasive Cervical Cancers.

"Dr Tukuitonga is a health professional who is highly respected in the health sector. He has an impressive background in public health and in his current position advises the Director-General and the Minister of Health on public health issues," Dr Poutasi said.

"He is currently a member of the National Screening Unit's (NSU) Advisory Board and has been involved in the governance of the Unit. The NSU is responsible for the management of the country's two national screening programmes ? the National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) and BreastScreen Aotearoa. Although Dr Tukuitonga replaces Dr Peters on this key project he will not be taking over as Clinical Director for the NSU.

"With this appointment we do not envisage losing any of the momentum that has been built while putting in place the foundations for this key project. Dr Peters' advice will be invaluable during the changeover.

"A key milestone for the project was reached at the end of February with applications being sent to all of the country's 14 Ethics Committees seeking approval for the Audit. We expect Ethics Committee approval this month and the Audit-proper will start immediately after that.

"We are also in the process of selecting case co-ordinators to carry out the key task of interviewing the women who will be involved in the Audit. As part of the Audit-proper between 300 and 350 women, their GPs and specialists will be contacted by the case co-ordinators in coming months and asked to participate.

"When completed the Audit will give us a very clear indication of the effectiveness of the NCSP in recent years. In the meantime there is strong evidence to show the National Cervical Screening Programme is having a major impact in reducing both the rates of incidence and death from cervical cancer, making it one of New Zealand's most successful public health programmes."

In the ten years from 1987 ? 1997 cervical cancer rates dropped 39 per cent. Over the same period the death rate for cervical cancer dropped by 44 per cent. These statistics show the anticipated "epidemic of cervical cancer" has been averted.

"The process also continues to increase the clinical capacity of the NSU. We are currently looking both in New Zealand and overseas to appoint a new Clinical Director for the Unit to replace Dr Peters and work alongside NSU Group Manager Karen Mitchell. In addition, in response to an earlier recommendation the search has begun for two new clinical leaders for the two programmes to work alongside the existing programme managers," Dr Poutasi said.


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