New Zealand to improve cervical, breast cancer screening

2021-05-09 06:06:07 GMT2021-05-09 14:06:07(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

WELLINGTON, May 9 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming Budget 2021 will deliver improved cervical and breast cancer screening programs in New Zealand, to reduce the number of people who die from the two diseases, the New Zealand government said on Sunday.

The improved programs included 118.6 million New Zealand dollars to be invested in a more effective cervical screening test program to help reduce cervical cancer rates, and a new breast screening system that can proactively identify and enroll eligible women to reach 271,000 more people who aren't currently in the program.

"We can invest in and implement changes in health that will deliver for all New Zealanders thanks to our economy performing better than forecast because of the government's successful management of COVID-19," said Health Minister Andrew Little in his pre-Budget announcement.

Every year, about 160 New Zealand women develop cervical cancer and about 50 die from it, it said.

"This is a tragedy as almost all cases are preventable or can be treated if they're found at an early stage," said Associate Health Minister on Women's Health Ayesha Verrall.

A new testing program for Human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of 99 percent of cervical cancers, will replace the current smear tests for the 1.4 million eligible women aged 25-69 years old, it is said.

"Clinical modeling predicts the move to HPV screening will prevent about 400 additional cervical cancers over 17 years and will save around 138 additional lives," said Verrall.

The New Zealand government is also investing in a significant upgrade of the breast cancer screening system, as well as to match population growth and catch up on breast screens missed due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Each year in New Zealand, approximately 3,200 people are diagnosed with breast cancer, and there are around 600 deaths from breast cancer, it is said.

"The new technology will better equip the national breast screening program to reach the 271,000 women who are eligible to access breast screening but are not currently being screened by being able to directly invite them and run targeted campaigns," said Verrall.

"The New Zealand government is committed to improving health outcomes for our hard-to-reach communities," said Verrall. (1 New Zealand dollar equals 0.7240 U.S. dollar) Enditem