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Health Select Committee Submission Update

Jane Ludemann outside parliament

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 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 that the recommendations of the HSC will be implemented.

There is more that is needed 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 get implemented, every wāhine in New Zealand will be told the symptoms of ovarian cancer, and 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, that we can collectively work together to effect change, and that we will keep pushing!

So, what are our next steps?

Cure Our Ovarian Cancer will reach out to the gynaecological oncology community, primary care nurses and GP professional bodies for their help with getting ovarian cancer symptoms education over the line with Te Whatu Ora.

We will continue investigating ways to improve access to ultrasounds and update the data to demonstrate 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 www.mylifematters.org.nz 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 publicly highlighting the lack of funding for ovarian cancer research while funding research grants through Cure Our Ovarian Cancer, and we will look for ways to support our researchers further.

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

But 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.

OCFNZ started as Cure Our Ovarian Cancer in 2018, with a focus on low-grade serous ovarian cancer. In 2020, we expanded our focus to include all ovarian cancer and, in 2024, we changed our name to the Ovarian Cancer Foundation New Zealand.