November 20, 2023
Funds sloing HPV test roll out
A shortage of funds is slowing down the national roll-out of the HPV tests hailed as a game changer in the fight against cervical cancer.
Friday was Cervical Cancer Elimination Day.
Selah Hart, Te Aka Whai Ora’s deputy chief executive for public health, says wahine Māori are 1.5 times more likely to get cervical cancer than European women and 2.3 times more likely to die from the disease.
She says there has been positive uptake of kits which allow women to self-test for the human papillomavirus, but funding restrictions means they are targeted at unmet need – women aged over 30 who have never been screened or tested before, and Māori and Pacifica people who hold a community services card who need a follow up test.
The potential is there to reach people who miss out on traditional screening programmes because of cost, geography or the whakama some feel about the screening process.
“This is one of the things we can do as wahine and as people with cervixes, to be able to screen, to check any of those cells that may be changing and catch it before it turns into a cancerous cell so it’s a huge prevention programme we could play across Aotearoa New Zealand to keep people and to detect any cell changes that could develop into cancer,” Ms Hart says.
“We want people to live long, well lives, we don’t want people to be struggling through disease, and ultimately have a really unsavory death, if we can actually look at ways in which to prevent them and keep them well.”