Government unveils national cancer agency and $60 million injection into Pharmac

The Government has today unveiled plans to establish a national cancer agency, which will be led directly by experts of the deadly disease, and a $60 million injection into Pharmac.

Until today, decisions about how to tackle New Zealand’s cancer “crisis” came from bureaucrats within the Ministry of Health.

By December 1, the Government has promised decisions will come from a team of top cancer specialists who will report directly to Health Minister David Clark. That is the date the agency will officially be up and running.

World-leading public health physician and cancer epidemiologist Professor Diana Sarfati has been appointed as the Ministry of Health’s interim national director of the agency.

“This is huge for New Zealand. It’s the biggest change in cancer care in at least 15 years, if not ever. When the UK appointed a national cancer director there was an unprecedented improvement and survival rates increased dramatically,” Cancer Society of New Zealand medical director Chris Jackson said.

It comes after a powerful public movement started by dying dad Blair Vining who launched a petition calling for a national cancer agency to hold District Health Boards to account and put an end to postcode lottery.

His petition gained more than 140,000 signatures from New Zealanders across the country.

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