The Ministry of Health’s cancer action plan was published in February 2020. We were really pleased that Equally Well champions were able to make an impact on the published plan.
Feedback on the draft plan from Equally Well partners including Debbie Peterson and Ruth Cunningham at the University of Otago Wellington, members of the mental health and addiction directorate at the Ministry of Health, and the Equally Well backbone team. The intent of our feedback was to strengthen the visibility of people who experience mental health and addiction issues, to prioritise improving screening rates, equity of outcomes and strengthen specific workforce development approaches.
As a result people with lived experience of mental health and addiction formally are acknowledged in the plan as a priority and reference to Te Pou’s 2014 Equally Well evidence review and Ruth Cunningham’s research made.
Specific additions to the final plan include:
- Recognition of the cancer mortality inequities for people with mental health and addiction issues and the fact that people are less likely to have their cancer detected early.
People experiencing mental illness and/or addiction have higher cancer mortality; research indicates that this can be explained by reduced access to screening, delayed identification and unequal access to cancer treatment.” p.8
- Alcohol screening included in the approaches to minimising harm
- HPV self-testing promoted to Māori women and other women who may find it preferable
- A ‘focus on priority populations’ included in the targeted investment to enable equitable participation in cancer screening
- Recognising the need to strengthen and support the current health workforce
- People-centred care added into several core aspects of the plan.