A focus on Māoridom could help address the high rates of Māori women with cervical cancer in New Zealand, one man whose sister died from the disease has said.
Women's health advocates are desperately calling for more testing options following Labour MP Kiri Allan's being diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer.
Eruera Keepa, who has been trying to raise awareness for getting tested after his sister Talei - the founder of the Smear Your Mea campaign - died in 2018, said a culturally-sensitive approach could help.
“The reason why Māori women put off smear tests is that it compromises the tapu when we apply a Māori world view to the sacred parts of the women’s body,” Keepa said.
Cervical cancer claims around 50 lives in New Zealand every year, but testing for it at the moment involves a medical appointment.
“It's a really invasive process,” Keepa said.
There are calls to introduce a self-testing programme where women can take their own swabs at home.
Keepa said the programme would be a step in the right direction.
“It's a more mana-enhancing procedure.”
The Ministry of Health says it's committed to introducing HPV self-testing with international evidence showing it's the most effective method.
Funding will be needed for such a programme but the switch is currently being considered.