Pacific Ladies Taking the Lead in Cervical Screening

It’s Cervical Screening Awareness Month and Southern DHB is celebrating that 81.3% of the Southern District’s Pacific Island women have been screened.

“This is the first time Southern have reached the cervical screening target for Pacific Island women and we’re delighted. However this is not just a target, this is about good health outcomes for women,” says Southern District Health Board Cervical Screening Programme Leader, Linda Moir.

Although cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, Māori, Asian and Pacific women develop this type of cancer at twice the rate of all women, largely because they are less likely to have cervical screening.

This success for Pacific Island women has been made possible by working in partnership with WellSouth, General Practices, and the Pacific Island Trust.

Invercargill-based Pacific Island Nurse Specialist, Aniva Ripley says the Pacific island Nursing Service team have looked at different ways to get women to participate in regular screening. “We’ve worked closely with the cervical screening team at the Southern DHB, and with general practice nurses to identify ladies due for screening and helped to get them screened.  We provide as much individually tailored support as we can including holding clinics at the Pacific Island Advisory and Cultural Trust rooms.”

In Dunedin, WellSouth Outreach Nurse, Lou Oldham has also been working alongside general practice teams and the DHB’s cervical screening team to identify Pacific Island women yet to be screened or overdue for screening. The women are then encouraged and supported to have their cervical screen.

“Improved health outcomes for Pacific Island women has been made possible by reaching the target. This reflects the dedication of a large team of people working together which is fantastic,” says Aniva and Lou.

During cervical screening month, all Southern women who are due for a smear test are being urged to come forwarded and get tested, this includes women who have never been screened.

Every year 160 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in New Zealand, with 50 women who die from it.

Having regular cervical smear tests reduces the risk of developing cervical cancer by 90 percent. Three yearly screening is recommended for women from the age of 20 to 69 who have been sexually active.

“Cervical cancer is very preventable - the cervical screen test is simple and only takes a few  minutes, so it’s well worth the small amount of time it takes for women and their families to have that piece of mind they are healthy,” says Ms Moir.

For more information about cervical screening go to http://www.timetoscreen.nz/cervical-screening/ or phone 0800 729 729.

* Photo left to right: Amanda McCracken, WellSouth Nurse Practitioner, Judy Geary, Southern DHB District Nursing Manager and Aniva Ripley, Pacific Island Nurse Specialist

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