The visual above is by Toby Morris of the Spinoff

It’s 10 days since the New Zealand election; a week until the US election. Covid 19 is still wreaking havoc around the world and Kiwis are still grateful for our unique freedom from its worst effects.

Healthcare and elections
Elections have health consequences. Will our new government (still being formed) put more into health? Will it change the DHB model? How will the Cancer Agency they started last year make cancer care more equitable in NZ? Will Obamacare survive in the US? See below for one of the patient engagement consequences of Obamacare.

Dental care
The new government will feel pressured to add more to health care than the extra $1000 to Winz. it’s a problem around the world. Is NZ worse off than most countries in regard to dental care? I wouldn’t have thought so because as a dentist once told me  “dentistry is the forgotten son of medicine”. However,  some countries do have government provided dental care for adults. See this excellent Spinoff graphic. 

Dental care remains a big issue for head and neck cancer patients in New Zealand.

Open Notes
One aspect of American healthcare, perhaps the much maligned Obamacare, makes it a rule for patients to receive all their notes as of right from November this year.  Take a look. It’s a comprehensive list of notes that will be open to patients.

https://www.opennotes.org/onc-federal-rule-interoperabilty-information-blocking-and-open-notes/#1

New salivary glands could be good news for us


Scientists may have discovered some substantial salivary glands hidden behind the nose. These could possibly be shielded during radiotherapy to lessen damage to our salivary production. It’s a very interesting  story as you can read here but it’s early days yet.

UK affirmation for Keytruda as a treatment for metastatic head and neck cancer
Countries have been slow to approve and fund Pembrozilumab since the KEYNOTE-040  study in 2019. It is approved but not funded in NZ for HNC . I don’t think it is funded in the UK but at least has approval. What is new about KEYNOTE-040 is that it shows that Keytruda is more effective than standard chemo when the HNC has spread. Once again, this is often a political issue? To what extent will governments fund these new expensive drugs which extend life but don’t promise a cure for HNC?

Best wishes to everyone around the world as we deal with Covid and cancer.