INDEPENDENT NEWS

Will The Next Government Do Enough For Breast Cancer?

Published: Wed 27 Sep 2023 05:19 AM
Ahead of the election, Breast Cancer Foundation NZ has laid down a challenge to political parties to tackle breast cancer – the leading killer of New Zealand women under 65.
The charity surveyed the seven biggest parties, asking them to adopt the steps they must take, if elected, to save women’s lives from breast cancer. Their responses have been assessed and published in Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s new election scorecard, which shows that the parties appear supportive of many of the recommendations but there are still significant gaps in their commitment to some crucial areas.
Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s analysis concludes:
- All parties support raising the free mammogram age to 74 and implementing targets to speed up diagnosis and treatment;
- Greens, NZ First and TOP would lower the mammogram age to 40 either by prioritising the most at-risk (including Māori and Pasifika) or for all women.
- - All parties would increase Pharmac’s budget to address NZ’s woeful access to medicines, with only NZ First indicating extra money for breast cancer drugs. Labour and National don’t support reform of Pharmac meaning the core problems won’t be solved;
- All parties show a piecemeal or compartmentalised approach to the recommendations, despite them all being interrelated, e.g. raising the free mammogram age to 74 but nothing of substance for innovation to increase workforce or system capacity, a commitment to targets but no methods to identify and prioritise women most at risk.
“Over the next term of Government, more than 10,000 Kiwi women will get breast cancer and nearly 2,000 will die. That’s why, with the election falling in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re urging all parties to step up and take the politics out of health – because breast cancer is not a political issue, it’s a human issue,” says Breast Cancer Foundation NZ chair, Justine Smyth.
“We know what it’ll take to reach zero deaths from breast cancer and we want to work with the next Government on the solutions we think will make the biggest difference. Raising the free mammogram age to 74 is a great first step but there’s still a tonne of work to do and our scorecard lays out exactly what’s needed.
“To solve the societal problem that is breast cancer, we need political leadership and action to drive all of the necessary changes. Whichever parties form the next Government, we look forward to working with them to progress our recommendations because these are the evidence-based policies required to prevent avoidable deaths from breast cancer,” Smyth adds.
Breast Cancer Foundation NZ surveyed Act, Greens, Labour, National, New Zealand First, Te Pāti Māori and The Opportunities Party in August (in follow-up to an initial survey ran in April). Te Pāti Māori failed to respond in time. The parties were asked 10 questions about the actions they would take to improve breast cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment. The Foundation’s election scorecard uses the survey’s findings to provide an accessible and up-to-date overview of what each party will or won’t do. See more at: breastcancerfoundation.org.nz/election-scorecard

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