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Māori Cancer Seminar To Address Inequities In Health System

Exponents in Māori healthcare, a Māori MP and Māori Cancer survivor will feature at this year’s Māori Cancer Seminar in Rotorua.

The free event, hosted by Te Arawa Whānau Ora (TAWO), is aimed at Māori health providers, and will look at Māori cancer rates and inequities between Māori and non-Māori.

Approximately 25,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with cancer every year. Nearly 3,000 of those are Māori, who are twice as likely to die from cancer than non-Māori. Māori women also have one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world.

TAWO Chairman, Te Ururoa Flavell, says as an organisation, Te Arawa Whānau Ora recognises the need to address these statistics head on.

“Our people are the ones who are affected by these statistics, and we must be on the front foot to inform and tautoko them. In the past few years, TAWO have enabled screening for over 14,000 of our Te Arawa whānau for breast and cervical cancer. With education and a change in mindset, the lives of whānau can be saved.” he says.

Guest speakers include Waikato Hospital clinical haematologist, Dr Myra Ruka (Raukawa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kuri), who will speak on the impact of COVID-19; equity within hospital cancer care; and National Māori Cancer Leadership Group, Hei Āhuru Mōwai.

Cancer & Chronic Conditions Research Group director, Dr Jason Gurney (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine), will provide a snapshot of inequity in cancer incidence, mortality, and survival for Māori.

Te Ururoa continues “We are privileged to have such high calibre speakers for this seminar, who can share their compassion, background and learnings for both the prevention and management of this ngārara (germ). Just remember, there are survivors. We can make a difference!”.

A whānau panel session will be held after lunch with Māori Party MP, Rawiri Waititi;

Breast & Cervical Screening health promoter and breast cancer survivor, June Grant; registered nurse and senior kapa haka performer, Sonia Lewis; and Cancer advocate and survivor, Greg Taipari.

A tribute will be made to former Te Arawa Whānau Ora CEO, Mala Grant, who died after a battle with cancer last year. June Grant, Breast & Cervical Screening health promoter and long-time friend, recounts the contribution Mala made to the lives of many.

“Mala epitomised the humble achiever, quietly going about her life’s work with integrity and grace. Everyone who knew Mala loved her, and her leadership will forever be missed as we navigate our future without her wisdom to help keep our waka on course. No-one loved or will miss her more than her beloved whānau and it is to the Thomas and Grant whānau that we extend our love and thanks for their gift to us of a beautiful mother, daughter, sister, grandmother and friend” she says.

The 2021 Māori Cancer Seminar is being held at Te Puia on Friday 12 March from 9am to 3.30pm. Register via the Te Arawa Whānau Ora Facebook page.

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