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Budget 2021: Government promises $ 53 million to support the fight against cervical cancer

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Deputy Health Minister Ayesha Verarll, photographed at a women’s clinic this morning, said the new smear test is a simple and quick swab that women can choose to do on their own.Photo / Jason Walls

The government will spend $ 53 million on the development and deployment of new HPV self-diagnosis kits. This is a move that is expected to save the lives of 138 people who would have been claimed by cervical cancer.

The funding will help complete and implement the design of a new human papillomavirus (HPV) test, Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said this morning.

HPV is responsible for 99% of cervical cancers, and Verarll said the new self-diagnosis kit makes a “real difference.”

A new test that replaces the current smear test is a simple and quick swab that women can choose to do on their own.

“This will help reduce the barriers to screening,” Veral said.

The announcement will come as welcome news to supporters who have been asking the government to fund self-test kits for some time.

According to Verrall, early modeling predicted that the transition to HPV screening would prevent about 400 cervical cancers in 17 years.

“It will save about 138 lives,” Veral told reporters this morning, adding that one-third of those cases would be prevented and the saved lives would be Maori.

The changes will take effect in 2023.

Funding will take place last month after Cabinet Minister Kiri Allan revealed that she has cervical cancer and has only a 13 percent chance of survival.

Veral said he had spoken to Alain about last night’s announcement. “She is very excited about the change.”

She said the government had been working on the program “for a long time.”

“I have been a doctor for a long time and have met many women with cervical and breast cancer. I think today’s announcement is for all women.”

In addition to the new HPV test, the government will also be subject to a free breast scan that could save about 300,000 additional women with a $ 55 million upgrade to the government’s aging IT system. I announced that.

Financing is part of this month’s budget and is one of the first funding initiatives announced.

This will be welcome news for supporters working on the government to increase the number of women receiving free scans.

Funding for the new IT system will help you proactively identify eligible women and enroll in the government’s free mammography screening program.

The existing system acts as an “opt-in” model, and women choose to enroll in breast screening via the GP or by calling the 0800 number.

However, this model knows that women are eligible for free breast screening and relies on making their own appointments.

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said the current “aging” IT system is endangering the entire program.

“We don’t have the flexibility to easily upgrade to meet the needs of the community, and we don’t have enough vendor support.”

Breast Screen Aotearoa (BSA), a national breast screening program, offers free mammography screening every two years to women aged 45-69 years who are asymptomatic of breast cancer.

The government will spend $ 55.6 million on major technology upgrades. This will better equip the system for identifying women who are not currently screened.

Verrall said about 271,000 women belong to this category.

The new system directly invites women who would have missed by running a targeted campaign.

That means women can choose to join or opt out when they are offered an appointment.

“Because of the higher number of Maori and Pacific women dying from breast cancer compared to non-Maori and non-Pacific women, the new system allows the BSA to place women in priority groups who may not yet be in the program. Can be identified. “
Every year in New Zealand, about 3,200 people are diagnosed with breast cancer and about 600 die of breast cancer.

Ah-Leen Rayner, CEO of the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, said this was a great step forward.

“It’s very important to know who misses the mammogram, as more than 650 kiwi women die from breast cancer each year, and Wahine Maori is 65% more likely to die than Pakeha.”

In addition to spending $ 55 million on IT system upgrades, Verarll will spend another $ 10 million to catch up with offering free scans to those who missed screening due to the blockade of Covid-19. Announced.

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