WORLD CANCER DAY – closing the care gap

It’s World Cancer Day on 4 February and this year’s theme is closing the care gap. This means the gaps worldwide and within countries. Australian advocate and broadcaster Julie McCrossin, interviewed me about the gaps between Australia and New Zealand. #closethecaregap, #WorldCancerDay24

Julie has been a member of our private Facebook group for years and has seen that New Zealand lacks some of the provisions Australia has and shares some gaps with Australia.

Our four main points were:

  • Lack of funded immunotherapy in New Zealand. Opdivo was funded in Australia in 2018 and Keytruda in 2022.
  • Underfunding for post-treatment dental care and dental reconstruction (a problem in both countries)
  • No comprehensive cancer centres like Peter Mac and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in New Zealand
  • Proton therapy will soon be available in Adelaide but it is a very long way off in NZ

I certainly didn’t set out to criticise New Zealand treatment but to make a plea for better health infrastructure in NZ for all of us, patients and staff.


Interestingly, HANCA (Head and Neck Cancer Australia) is lobbying their Senate to ask for improvements for head and neck cancer care as well as some other less well known cancers. I frequently meet people in my daily life who have never heard of head and neck cancer. We need to raise awareness. 

From their Facebook page:

CEO, Nadia Rosin and Board Directors Carolyn Smith and Dr Matthew Magarey appeared at a Senate inquiry on Wednesday into ‘equitable access to diagnosis and treatment for individuals with rare and less common cancers’. An important opportunity for #HANCA to advocate for:

  • More awareness of #HNC for GPs, Dentists and the general public
  • A national Dental and Maxillofacial subsidy program for HNC patients 
  • Supportive care following treatment for HNC

So while there are gaps between Australia and New Zealand, there are gaps within Australia too.


Meanwhile we do our best to raise awareness and support HNC people as you can see from the pie chart showing expenses from early 2020 until late 2023. We’ve been lucky with donations until recently but it would be grand if people could donate to our Givealittle. Every dollar counts. 

HNCSA is a recipient charity for most running events in New Zealand. A team is being put together to run Round the Bays for us on 3 March. Watch this space. 

Maureen Jansen