National | Health

New mobile breast screening unit launched in South Auckland/Counties Manukau

3,400 New Zealand women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

Up to 6,000 South Auckland women will get access to a new breast screening unit each year after a a new mobile unit was launched in Manukau today.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Aotearoa so, with the latest addition to the country’s screening programme, it’s hoped more Kiwi women will be reached earlier.

Ministry of Health reports show Māori women are 21 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, 30 per cent less likely to be diagnosed early and 72 per cent more likely to die from breast cancer than non-Māori.

Health Minister Shane highlighted the mobile clinic as a vital tool in the government’s arsenal against cancer, saying, “This new mobile clinic helps make it easier for more women to get breast screening done, with a focus on reaching those who are under-screened or who have never been screened.”

He says the initiative is not just about screening; it’s about making healthcare accessible and community-centric.

“It’s a perfect example of being close to communities – in Counties Manukau, this service will partner with community groups and local marae to help raise awareness and support. It will also visit locations that people travel to frequently, like shopping centres”.

The mobile unit is equipped with state-of-the-art mammography and IT equipment, ensuring high-quality care is delivered efficiently and effectively, wherever the clinic sets up and is especially crucial for those in remote or rural areas and those without easy access to transport.

“We know cancer touches thousands of New Zealand families each year, and addressing wait times for cancer treatment was something the government prioritised as one of its five key health targets.”

Counties Manukau has one other mobile breast screening clinic, which was introduced in 2006. This will remain in operation while the new service extension at Manukau Health Park is being completed.

A cancer initiative

The Ministry of Health, Te Whatu Ora, says it is concentrating on cancer treatment as a priority, introducing a faster target where 90 per cent of patients receive cancer management within 31 days of the decision to treat:

  • Free breast screening eligibility will be extended to women up to the age of 74.
  • Funding is being introduced for two new cancer drugs for breast cancer and acute myeloid leukaemia.
  • Funding South Island PET scanning accessibility is meant to benefit men with prostate cancer.
  • A new cancer radiotherapy machine will be placed at Whangārei Hospital so 520 Northlanders a year will no longer have to travel to Auckland for treatment.
  • Expanding cancer infusion services in Whanganui for up to 10 patients a day