Tēnā koutou,

He mihi nui ki a koutou o te rūnanga a iwi o Ngāti Kahu.

The Bowel Screening Programme has been approved by the Ministry of Health to “Go Live” early October. This has been a long-awaited initiative for the region and we are confident that this will benefit the hauora of our iwi throughout the area. We are the “second to last” DHB to run the programme and this is long overdue.

How does it work ? – It is a self-testing process whereby a kit is sent to our whānau between the ages of 60-74 years. They take a faecal sample and this is returned via a self-addressed courier pack to a central laboratory in Auckland. If a positive result is detected the patients doctor is notified. They, in turn will contact the patient to invite them in for a discussion on the finding and to arrange a colonoscopy at either Kaitaia or Whangārei hospitals. Early detection and removal of polyp growth within the colon could prevent further complication within the bowel. It is envisaged that there will be around 50 patients annually who will be detected via this process.

We are working with the fantastic Māori providers in your rohe to acquaint them with this procedure and how the programme works. Because the kits are sent directly from a National Screening Centre in Wellington we are not advised of just who will receive them – and because the population who are eligible to receive kits (supposedly 36,000 from the last census) not everyone will get one in the first year. It will be a 2 year roll out to cover all participants and then follow-ups every 2 years.

The fear for us is that our whānau may receive these kits in the mail and not understand what they are for and therefore not take advantage of this opportunity for free testing. What we envisage could also be a barrier is the fact that a faecal sample is required (no larger than a match head) and this is to be inserted into a supplied vial that then gets couriered off for testing. Kōrero around this subject may be required so that whānau become comfortable with this procedure and engage with the intentions of the programme.

I would be grateful if any pānui that you send to your iwi may advertise the Bowel Screening Programme so they will be aware of the self-testing kit when it arrives in the post.

If you know of any whānau, marae or organisation who may benefit from “kanohi ki te kanohi” korero I am happy to meet at a place and time suitable to them. Should you have any queries please contact me at Northland DHB. I am based in Whangarei but cover Te Tai Tokerau.

Nga mihi o te wā…..


Stuart Selkirk

Health Promotion Lead, Bowel Screening Programme Northland