The Cancer Society is very pleased to see Aotearoa New Zealand’s draft Cancer Action Plan. This is a significant opportunity to approach and solve this problem at a national level.
We applaud the government for developing such a comprehensive document that has addressing equity and achieving fewer cancers at its heart. This is the most comprehensive update of our national cancer strategy since 2003. We wholeheartedly welcome the opportunity to work on implementing this plan. We see an important role for non-government organisations in supporting its achievements.
Leadership is a crucial part of addressing the growing gap in cancer outcomes between Aotearoa New Zealand and comparator countries like Australia and the UK. These growing gaps are not reflective of the skill, compassion, and expertise of those working in cancer care, but the diffused responsibility for cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and support in Aotearoa New Zealand. The time has clearly come for strong central leadership, and a nationally joined up approach.
We welcome the new Cancer Control Agency and similar models have worked well abroad. We urge the government to consider defining the authority and functions of an independent agency through an Act of Parliament.
While we have seen many of the existing gaps between Māori and non-Māori close over recent years, the equity gap remains stark. Māori still feel the unfair burden of worse cancer incidence and survival rates in most major cancer types. A key indicator of success for this plan, therefore, is how we address this equity gap for Māori.
Read our response here.