The Ministry of Health is celebrating the launch of the free National Bowel Screening Programme in Hutt Valley and Wairarapa.
Every year more than 3,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer and more than 1,200 die from it.
The first letters are being sent this week to eligible residents, aged 60 to 74 years, in the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa District Health Board areas. All other DHBs will join the programme in stages over the next three years.
The Director-General of Health, Chai Chuah, says “The start of bowel screening in Hutt Valley and Wairarapa is a milestone that we need to celebrate.
“This is the first cancer screening programme in New Zealand for men and women. It’s also the only screening programme where participants do the test in the privacy of their own home, and then post it to the laboratory for testing.
“We know that through helping to detect bowel cancer at an early stage, this programme will save lives. I encourage New Zealanders to do the test when they’re invited.
“The launch of the National Bowel Screening Programme is the culmination of years of work by staff at Waitemata District Health Board which has run the Bowel Screening Pilot, and the Ministry of Health. People from across the health sector have been involved in consultation and planning, including DHBs, Primary Health Organisations, laboratories, and advocacy groups. There has been a huge amount of interest and support from New Zealanders who have been calling for the creation of a national bowel screening programme.
“I’d like to thank all of those who’ve helped to make this screening programme a reality, especially our colleagues in Waitemata DHB, and congratulate Hutt Valley and Wairarapa DHBs for being the first to join the National Bowel Screening Programme. This is a clear example of actioning the One Team theme in the New Zealand Health Strategy.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Hutt Valley DHB, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, says “We’re delighted to be one of the first DHBs to roll this programme out to our community.
“Our team has been working hard to ensure we get high participation and deliver a first rate service.”
Wairarapa DHB’s Chief Executive Officer, Adri Isbister, says it is a privilege to be one of the first of the District Health Boards to be launching bowel screening.
“We are very pleased with the level of public interest and expect high engagement with the programme.
“Our community has been actively involved during the various public meetings we have held, and we have a real focus on achieving an equitable reach across our local population.”