Every day in New Zealand around 66 people are diagnosed with cancer, a lot of us are affected by this disease.
Locally we have great support services including the Breast Cancer Support Services. Helen and her team do an amazing job offering practical advice and support and it was wonderful to be able to support the service recently by donning my pink tutu and taking part in the Hot Pink Walk. I also collected for the Pink Ribbon Street Appeal at Tauranga Hospital.
Labour is committed to better cancer care. Our health system has been under serious pressure after years of neglect and underinvestment. We are taking action. In September we announced a new, comprehensive cancer plan which will see much needed changes. There will be a new national cancer control agency to ensure consistency of care across the country, more funding for Pharmac so it can purchase more cancer medicines for more people and funding for state-of-the-art radiation machines so people living in our regions can get the treatment they need without having to travel long distances.
Pharmac has already announced it will be funding Kadcyla for metastatic breast cancer and Alecensa for lung cancer and they are currently consulting on three more cancer drugs for ovarian and breast cancer and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Until now people have had to fund these expensive drugs themselves.
Improving cancer survival rates is a long-term challenge that won’t be solved overnight but this plan will deliver earlier detection, and better treatment. It will save lives.