'PHARMAC boost good start but not enough to make change' - Māori family member

By Regan Paranihi

There is a mix of reactions from Māori families following the announcement of the government's funding boost towards the Cancer Control Agency and PHARMAC.

Malcolm Mulholland has recently been challenging the government to be more vigilant and after today's announcement he says that while it is a good start it is not enough. However, it is a boost the Mulhollands have been fighting for.

"What we would have really have loved to have seen today is an announcement to say we'll double the PHARMAC budget with a plan to triple it over a short space of time," Mulholland says.

Despite the number of zeros, Mulholland says it is still not enough to make a decent change for cancer patients.

"I know it sounds like a lot of money, but the effect of funding PHARMAC to the level that it should be means that New Zealanders right across the board have better health outcomes."

Vallanique Tamaiparea (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Tuwharetoa) is a cancer patient herself and says GPs need to be more vigilant and educated on how to detect cancer.

"I had to wait two years before he listened to me and said 'ok, well we better go and check something out' and that's when it was picked up, but I had to wait two years to convince my GP."

Tamaiparea says, "There's not enough information out there too and I know there is alternates. You can get alternate medicine besides synthetic.... It just needs a bit more research done overall."

However, there is a positive outcome for the Mulhollands from today's funding announcement.

"All of the drugs they've said they're going to fund are the drugs that we have been petitioning for, including the two drugs that my wife needs... So that's extremely welcome news for us and a host of other women who are going to benefit as a result," says Mulholland.

The government plans to focus on improving outcomes for New Zealanders in this area.