Why Cash Incentives are Important to Boost Cervical Screenings in NZ

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Experts attribute a low rate of cervical screenings in New Zealand to a lack of cash incentives among general practitioners. Only 13 percent of around 644 women diagnosed with cervical cancer underwent regular screenings for the disease every three years, according to a study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

Lack of Funding

If GPs had more funding, the study’s authors believe that the GPs could have used the additional money to perform more Pap smear tests or even buy equipment such as vaginal speculums. Peter Sykes, the study’s co-author, believes that cash incentives would be important to encourage more participation among women.

This particularly applies to Māori, Pacific and those in poorer areas, following low screening rates of 5 percent, according to the study. Cervical cancer rates may have fallen between 50 percent and 60 percent from 1990 and 2001, but the Ministry of Health (MO) said that other forms of cancer common among women are on the rise.

Rising Rates

Cancer emerged as the leading cause of death in New Zealand after more than 23,000 people are diagnosed every year, according to the MOH. Breast cancer accounted for a majority of those diagnosed with the disease, followed by colorectal, prostate, melanoma and lung cancers.

These illnesses represented six out of 10 diagnosed cancers. Cancer Society medical director Chris Jackson said that cancer patients might increase by 50 percent in 2035.

Fortunately, the country has one of the highest standards in cancer treatment worldwide, as it landed among the top eight nations based on five-year survival rates.


Hospitals and clinics may have limited funds for doing Pap smear tests, although the need for surgical equipment remains necessary. As the cancer rate in New Zealand increase, it would be important that medical facilities are fully equipped with the right diagnostic tools.