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'More work required' to reduce health gap for Maori

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tariana Turia
Tariana Turia

Associate Minister of Health, Tariana Turia has welcomed research findings by the Department of Public Health at University of Otago. The CancerTrends study, shows that there are large improvements in cancer survival, although the research also points to a significant gap between Maori and non-Maori survival rates, and the enduring gap for those on low incomes.

Mrs Turia said "I am pleased that there has been an overall improvement in cancer survival trends across all groups, although I am concerned that there has been no reduction in the inequality gap between Maori and non-Maori patients."

"Cancer has always been an illness of high incidence amongst Maori, and the research has highlighted the need to do more in order to produce better health outcomes for this group."

"It's also about injustice. Inequalities occur when Maori dont get screened or referred to treatment early enough" said Mrs Turia.

"Increasing Maori participation in cancer screening is an important way to address cancer inequalities, as is ensuring improved access to treatment for all people diagnosed with cancer."

Ministry of Health statistics tell us that lung cancer was the most common cancer registered for Maori and the leading cause of cancer death in 2008, accounting for a third of all Maori cancer deaths. Compared with non-Maori, the risk of developing lung cancer is twice as high for Maori men, and three times as high for Maori women.

Mrs Turia said "tobacco cessation is a key part of our strategy to reduce lung cancer, by preventing the disease from occurring in the first place. I intend to look at ways of accelerating progress towards our goal of becoming a smokefree nation by 2025."

The research also highlighted that there are significant disparities in cancer mortality for low-income patients.

Mrs Turia said "this also concerns me. It is not good enough that the cancer mortality rate for low income people is widening by 9% every decade."

"It seems to me that this is an issue about poverty, and as such I will refer this issue to the Ministerial Committee on Poverty for further consideration" said Mrs Turia.

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