'You can’t fight cancer without a plan' - specialist demands national strategy to improve health of Kiwis

The Cancer Society has called for a national plan and refreshed strategy to help New Zealand’s cancers sufferers.

This comes after the health minister promised a father dying of bowel cancer that New Zealand will improve its treatment.

Medical director Dr Chris Jackson told TVNZ’s Breakfast we need to follow the footsteps of countries like Australia and Canada.

‘We were on your show this time last year saying that 2500 New Zealanders died of cancer who would have survived if we has Australia’s treatment success rates and very little has happened since that time.”

He says we need to look at something similar to countries like Australia and Canada that have a national cancer agency and a national-based approach to coordinating cancer care, prevention and screening.

“What we think needs to happen is for all of the expertise to be pulled to make sure that Kiwis get access to the best treatment they can, not just based on where they live.”

Dr Jackson says most countries have a cancer strategy which is updated every five to 10 years, but New Zealand has not had one since 2003.

“You can’t fight cancer without a plan.”

He also says a lot more can be done to prevent cancer.

”We have one of the world's highest rates of melanoma skin cancer, yet we only invest a few hundred thousand dollars in prevention every year. There’s clearly a lot more we can do in terms of prevention. We want to make sure we reach our goal of a smoke free 2025 and we need strong action on other common carcinogens like alcohol.”

He says the health system has pockets of excellence like screening programmes and hospitals, but more needs to be done. 

"It's joining those pieces together, getting them out of their wee pockets and silos and having that over-arching view is what we really need.”

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    Medical director Dr Chris Jackson says we need to follow the footsteps of countries like Australia and Canada. Source: Breakfast

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