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Cancer sufferers once again let down by PHARMAC and Parliament

The New Zealand Maori Council has called on both the Maori Affairs Select Committee and the Health Select Committee of the New Zealand Parliament to “explain” where things are at with the Inquiry call into life saving and life extending medications for women suffering breast cancer:

“More than a few months ago now Maori Council first called on the Maori Affairs Select Committee to launch an inquiry into the cost and scheduling of life saving and life extending medications. We met with the relevant members of the Committee and believed that the issues would be taken up given that one in nine women who are diagnosed are Maori. The fact that a life saving and extending drug could cost as much as $75,000 when they are scheduled by the Australian PBS at a mere less than $40 a month was as abhorrent then as it is now.” Council Executive Director Matthew Tukaki has said.

“To reinforce the issue it became clear that not only was the cost astronomical it then drew in the fact that Maori were further excluded through the fact that we are less well off on average that non-Maori New Zealanders – and yet here we were forcing our wahine and their whanau to have conversations around death and dying prematurely all because yet another Government quango is a law and force unto itself. Well, enough is enough with this lot. The response from Pharmac is to shift and side shuffle – in fact they have perfected the art of the two step over the years and its about time that the Government walked in their with a big old stick and set the record straight about who was in charge. And just because a former politician in Steve Mahary is now Chair doesn’t mean to say he’s going to sort it out because no one has yet answered the questions about who holds him accountable.” Tukaki said.

“This is why our people turned first to the Maori Affairs Select Committee – they should be the voice of our people in the Parliament and the facts are laid bare for all to see. One in nine women diagnosed with breast cancer are women. Maori are less likely to be able to afford the life saving and life extending medications as it stands and Maori women are at higher risk of death than non-Maori. So; its time for PHARMAC to be hauled in and held accountable.” Tukaki said

“I am also aware of a letter that Wiki Mulholland has received recently in relation to her fight to get these drugs scheduled and I have to say I am appalled. We are dealing in the lives of people, our people. They should be given every chance and opportunity to spend as much time with their whanau as they can and we need to support that. If the shoe was on the other foot and this was us what would we do? Of course we would fight! So lets stop the public servants running the roost like its their own little empire and get on with it.” Tukaki said.

“Maori Council will always fight for the interests and well-being of our people” Tukaki said

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