Press release from Labour
If re-elected Labour will make cervical screening services free to all women and people with a cervix aged 25 – 69 years, delivering better cancer care for over 1.4 million New Zealanders.
“Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and regular screening saves lives, so it is critical cost isn’t a barrier to accessing early detection,” Labour Women’s Health Spokesperson Willow-Jean Prime said.
“The current screening programme is delivered by primary care and has never been fully funded with most people making a co-payment that can be up to $100.
“Making cervical cancer screening free for everyone eligible brings it into line with other forms of cancer screening, like breast cancer.
“In addition to pledging to make screening free if re-elected, the Government is also rolling out today a new self-test option which looks for the human papilloma virus, rather than cell changes.
“With innovations in cancer prevention and screening like the self-test New Zealand can make significant reductions in cervical cancer rates.
“The new test is a simple and quick swab that women can choose to do themselves, while under supervision at a health facility or in time, at home,” Willow Jean Prime said.
The promise of free screening for all those eligible builds on the work the Government is rolling out today to extend free screening to people aged 30 and over who have never had a cervical screen or who have not had a screen in the last five years, people requiring follow up, Māori and Pacific people, and Community Service Card holders.
“Providing free cervical screening to all will cost $20 million per year and will be funded from within health baselines,” Willow Jean Prime said.
“We’re focussed on making access to healthcare and medicines free so no one misses out. Our policy of free prescriptions would be gone under National.
“This month is Cervical Screening Awareness Month, and with free HPV vaccinations and increasing access to our new HPV self-test, ultimately we can achieve enough coverage to make cervical cancer a thing of the past.” Willow-Jean Prime said.