BCAC supports petition for national cancer agency and plan

Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) is 100% behind Blair Vining’s petition to Parliament calling for a national cancer agency to address New Zealand’s cancer death rates.

Click here to sign the petition: Petition of Blair Vining: Better cancer care for all New Zealanders, stewarded by a National Cancer Agency

Click here to watch this video where Blair explains his diagnosis and why he has been leading this campaign for change.

The petition says the agency should have responsibility for oversight of prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship. It should be well-funded and free from political interference, and should benchmark outcomes and report to the public.

Blair has terminal cancer and the petition is on his bucket list because he wants to help other people. He writes in the petition that he wants the national cancer agency to oversee a cancer plan to deliver world-class cancer care to reduce cancer deaths, and care for people during treatment. The agency needs to have independent funding and set clear targets that Government and DHBs are accountable for.

We at BCAC agree wholeheartedly with everything Blair is calling for. New Zealand cancer rates are 62% higher than the world average, which is shocking, and cancer survival rates are significantly lower than comparable countries.

“New Zealanders deserve world-class detection, treatment and care and this is not happening for cancer in this country.  The system just isn’t working – we need independent direction and oversight of the way cancer care is provided. There is insufficient funding, delays and excuses. An agency and plan would help set a path for improvements,” BCAC chair Libby Burgess says.

BCAC wants to see the breast screening programme for women up to age 74 rolled out, and free mammograms for women under 45 who are at increased risk of breast cancer, especially young Māori and Pasifika women.

“Waiting times for breast cancer treatment are stretching out in some DHB regions,” says Libby. “We need faster times for people to receive the surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and reconstructive surgery that they need.”

Improved psychosocial support and counselling services are also needed for breast cancer patients, and treatment for lymphoedema, which can be a debilitating side-effect of breast cancer treatment.

“BCAC would like to see greater participation in breast cancer clinical trials,” says Libby. “These give patients access to new treatments and help clinicians to gain experience in using new approaches.”

A national cancer agency could drive innovation in cancer care, and ensure New Zealand makes full use of new technologies such as DNA testing to design more effective personalised treatment regimes and artificial intelligence to improve screening and diagnosis.

We also need greatly improved access to the breakthrough medicines that are increasingly available across the developed world. New Zealand has fallen far behind where we should be and this must be urgently remedied through significant increases to the medicines budget and faster approval processes.

“These new technologies and treatments could transform cancer care,” says Libby. “New Zealand needs to be ready to embrace these and ensure that the benefits are equitably shared among our people.”

Fifty percent of New Zealanders will receive a cancer diagnosis at some stage in their lives.

“It’s such a common disease, any change that improves outcomes for cancer patients has the potential to benefit most of our population.  Blair’s petition deserves our full support,” says Libby.  

 As Blair writes on his Facebook page: “We need a Cancer Agency to lead cancer control in NZ. It is too late for me but if we all work together we can get the Minister of Health to make cancer control and care a priority.” It only takes 30 seconds to sign the petition.

 

Click here to watch this video where Blair explains his diagnosis and why he has been leading this campaign for change.

To sign the petition, click here: Petition of Blair Vining: Better cancer care for all New Zealanders, stewarded by a National Cancer Agency

 

 

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