Health Select Committee Submission Update

In July, Jane and fellow trustee Liz Pennington met with the Health Select Committee (HSC) for our oral submission, the final step in our National Ovarian Cancer Report submission to parliament.

This in-person submission was an opportunity for us to take the words off the page, and make sure our recommendations were heard and given the best chance of being implemented.

In late August, the HSC published their report in which they acknowledged there are issues with the diagnosis, treatment and research of ovarian cancer. They have made the following two recommendations.

  1. They endorse our recommendations for ovarian cancer and uterine cancer symptoms education to be included in the cervical screening program, and they strongly encourage Te Whatu Ora Health NZ to investigate this as a possibility.
  2. They encourage Te Aho o Te Kahu (the Cancer Control Agency) to work with other agencies to explore how they can measure the effectiveness of detection, diagnosis and treatments in ovarian cancer.

We are proud this is a step in the right direction, and we are hopeful their recommendations will be implemented.

There is more that needs to be done – timely access to ultrasounds, treatment and clinical trial equity with Australia, and research funding for our least survivable women’s cancer – to name a few. On a positive note, if the recommendations the HSC has made are implemented, every wāhine in New Zealand will be told the symptoms of ovarian cancer, and they will be empowered to advocate for their health. We would be the first country in the world to implement such an initiative – that is something we should all be proud of.

We’ve shown that the ovarian cancer community is passionate and that we can collectively work together to effect change – and that we’re going to keep pushing!

So, what are our next steps?

Cure Our Ovarian Cancer will be reaching out to gynaecological oncology, primary care nurses and GP professional bodies for their help to get the symptoms education over the line with Te Whatu Ora.

We will continue to investigate ways to improve access to ultrasounds and update the data that demonstrates the unacceptable wait times.

We have partnered with Patient Voice Aotearoa to support an election campaign calling for adequate funding for Pharmac, to help close the treatment gap with Australia – visit to learn more about the campaign.

We recently met with Te Aho o Te Kahu to once again raise the issue of the lack of clinical trial access for ovarian cancer patients, and we are commissioning a report, in partnership with the Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group, to identify barriers and solutions to clinical trial access for gynaecological cancer patients.

We will continue to publicly highlight the lack of funding for ovarian cancer research, while simultaneously funding research grants through Cure Our Ovarian Cancer, and looking for ways to further support our researchers.

We will write to political parties to ask for their support for ultrasound access, treatment and clinical trial access, and dedicated ovarian cancer research funding.

This is just the start – we will continue to fight so women with ovarian cancer receive a timely diagnosis, adequate treatments and research to improve their survival.

Watch the Health Select Committee oral submission here.