Working for better health care in New Zealand

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is the professional association and union uniting doctors and dentists in New Zealand.

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How we can overcome cancer inequality in New Zealand

7 February 2019 Donna Chisholm - The Listener

Māori are 20% more likely than non-Māori to get cancer, and nearly twice as likely to die from it, and addressing disparities in incidence and care will be a key focus of cancer strategy into the future. Public health physician Dr Nina Scott, chair of Hei Āhuru Mōwai, the national Māori cancer leadership group, says inequities exist at almost every step of the cancer-care pathway. Overall, Māori are diagnosed late, referred late, seen late and offered and receive treatment late and receive lower-quality treatment. She says Hei Āhuru Mōwai is working with leaders in the cancer sector to eliminate these differences.

When she started out in the sector as a palliative-care doctor and then public-health registrar, Scott says, “a lot of people didn’t believe there were cancer inequities. There was blatant racism at multiple levels and we had to fight to get the Māori cancer equity issue on the table. We had some evidence of unequal outcomes, but people weren’t sure why they existed or what to do about them or even whether they were important. Now, we are all on board and know they are unfair and unjust and the result of health-system issues that need to be – and can be – resolved. It’s been an amazing turnaround.”

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