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Māori cancer screening rates have dramatically decreased during COVID

Hei Āhuru Mōwai are extremely concerned about the dramatic decrease in Māori cancer screening rates during the COVID 19 pandemic.


Read our formal request to Ashley Bloomfield for an urgent Māori COVID and Cancer Screening Response and Recovery Plan.

Covid 19

Tangata whenua te tuatahi

Minimum COVID and cancer equity requirements

Cancer equity gaps - caused by insufficient equity focus and action in health and cancer care services can be worsened during COVID lockdowns. Māori (and Pacific) must have prioritised access to vaccinations,

cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment services. Deliberate and sustained prioritisation for Māori and Pacific is imperative to ensure current cancer inequities are not exacerbated.  

Here are our expert COVID and cancer minimum equity requirements that we sent to Ministers and the Ministry of Health in 2021.

1. Māori especially those with cancer and their whānau, must be given priority access to COVID vaccinations & boosters

2. Māori who are immunocompromised must be given priority access to any third dose vaccinations


3. All health practitioners working with Māori and Pacific should be vaccinated


4. Māori must be prioritised across all early diagnosis and treatment pathways


5. DHB’s and cancer centers should identify, contact, and provide wrap around services to Māori who are awaiting appointments, test results or receiving cancer treatment


6. All kaupapa Māori and kaupapa Māori cancer organisations should be offered a COVID cancer support fund


7. Cancer accommodation and travel providers should be offered a COVID cancer support fund and prioritised access to COVID related resources including PPE and Rapid Antigen Tests.


8. Screening programmes should continue (with adequate safety mechanisms) and catch-up planning must prioritise Māori


9. Smokefree policy actions and access to stop smoking programmes for Māori should increase


10. Promotion to limit alcohol consumption should increase


These requirements must be robustly and regularly monitored (including independent, external, non-Crown monitors) and must be acted upon if requirements are not met.


Updated: 28 January, 2022

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