Funding of cervical HPV self-tests being considered by Government

The Government is actively considering the roll out of cervical HPV self-tests that can be done at home, a move away from the current smear-based programme. 

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Andrew Little says the Govt has ‘got work to do’ after news Labour MP Kiri Allan has been diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer. Source: 1 NEWS

Yesterday, Emergency Management Minister Kiri Allan announced she was taking medical leave from Parliament after being diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer.

"Kiri Allan has made a pretty powerful message that helps," Health Minister Andrew Little said today after being asked about the low rates of screening among Māori, following Allan's plea for people to get cervical smears.

"We've got work to do to make sure that we are making more culturally sensitive ways of getting smears done for Māori women and that work is underway," Little said. 

"We know there are alternative ways to get those tests done and we are doing what we can to make sure those facilities are available." 

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She has stage-three cervical cancer, the Labour MP revealed today. Source: 1 NEWS

Allan, the 37-year-old MP for the East Coast, called it the fight of her life, revealing a six-centimetre-long tumour was discovered the same day she led the country through a tsunami and evacuation alert in March.

On Facebook, Allan wrote she was "one of those gals that hates anything to do with 'down there'.

Allan urged people to "please, please, please - encourage your sisters, your mothers, your daughters, your friends - please #SmearYourMea - it may save your life - and we need you right here".

Her call to action saw the Government questioned over funding of a self-swabbing cervical cancer programme that can be done at home. RNZ reported it was due to be rolled out in 2018.

Health leader 'baffled' why cervical HPV self-test not funded by Government

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield acknowledged there had been lower rates of screening among Māori and Pacific women "for many years". 

Bloomfield said the "key decision and the key next step" was to move the screening process, which according to the Ministry of Health involves a health professional inserting a speculum into the vagina to take a cell sample from the cervix surface, to a HPV testing based programme.   

"Within that there is the opportunity for self-sampling and we know from a couple of studies that have been undertaken already in New Zealand that has a high degree of acceptability, particularly from Māori women," he said.

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The calls come a day after Government minister Kiri Allan revealed her battle with the disease. Source: 1 NEWS

"That does open up the opportunity for women who may be put off by the current approach to screening, cervical screening, to participate in an HPV based programme. 

"It's something that's under active consideration so I can't comment further on that."

Associate Māori Health Minister Peeni Henare said it was "certainly something I'll be vouching for".