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Work underway to improve cervical screening

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a review of the National Cervical Screening Programme shows it is successfully reducing cervical cancer rates, and work is underway to further strengthen the programme.

“The latest Parliamentary Review Committee’s report shows the number of women developing and dying from cervical cancer has reduced by 60 per cent since the screening programme was introduced in 1990,” says Dr Coleman.

“This report provides a valuable benchmark and a clear set of recommendations which will help to strengthen the screening programme.”

A number of priority areas are highlighted in the report – addressing the participation barriers experienced by Maori women, auditing screening histories of women who develop cervical cancer, completion of the e-colposcopyproject, clinical leadership, and transition to HPV screening.

“The Ministry’s National Screening Unit (NSU) currently has work underway to address the report’s key recommendations,” says Dr Coleman.

“There are a number of initiatives to address the barriers to screening experienced by Maori, Pacific and Asian women. The e-colposcopy project is on track for completion by December 2015, and protocols are being developed for a primary human papillomavirus (HPV) test.

“Clinical leadership in the programme is also being strengthened, and an audit is being undertaken on cases where women developed cervical cancer.”

The screening programme, which is available to women aged between 20 and 70, is subject to a Parliamentary Review Committee process every three years. A copy of the latest report is available at www.nsu.govt.nz.

Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129

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