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Campaigning for more cervical screenings

A cervical screening campaign has been deemed a success in Wairarapa, picking up close to 350 women overdue for a smear,

However, the data shows screening rates are still below pre-covid figures.

Screening rates have dropped nationally in recent years, with Wairarapa seeing an 11 per cent decline in cervical screenings since 2018.

Te Whatu Ora [Health NZ] said as of October this year, just 69 per cent of eligible Wairarapa residents had had a smear in the last three years.

Health NZ data showed Wairarapa screening rates had swiftly declined year on year since October 2018, from 80 per cent to 76 in 2019 and 73 per cent in 2020.

The data, broken down by ethnicity, revealed Wairarapa Maori had the lowest rates, with 67 per cent of the eligible population screened this year, compared to 72 in 2019.

Rates among the eligible Pasifika population were above the region’s average, at 71 per cent.

Nationally, Health NZ aimed for 80 per cent of sexually active females between 25 and 69 years old to be screened for cervical abnormalities every three years.

Over September and October, Tu Ora Compass Health hosted a two-month trial in the Greater Wellington Region, targeting cervical screenings for Maori and Pasifika.

Chief executive Justine Thorpe said the campaign was necessary given cervical screening rates had dropped during the covid-19 response.

“We acknowledge that although the rate of cervical cancer for people with a cervix has improved, Maori and Pasifika people still have much higher rates of cervical cancer than non-Maori.”

The “Smear-tember” trial over September and October included incentives such as voucher options within general practice settings and phone follow-ups for screening appointments.

Tu Ora also hosted cultural community events to promote the screenings.

Tu Ora said the campaign in Wairarapa had been a success, with 348 priority wahine [who were overdue] screened, including 134 Maori, 16 Pasifika, and 198 community service card holders who were eligible.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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