Improving the health of Indigenous people globally: LETTER IN THE LANCET ONCOLOGY

A Menzies researcher is calling on the World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments to prioritise improvements in cancer control for Indigenous people globally.

Professor Gail Garvey, a leading cancer researcher at Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and Kamilaroi woman from New South Wales, co-authored an open letter published today in leading international medical journal, the Lancet Oncology.

Professor Garvey was part of an organising committee of cancer researchers from New Zealand and the Pacific for the Indigenous Peoples and Cancer symposium held in Wellington in February 2018.

You can read the full media release: Researchers call for global action to improve Indigenous health outcomes.

Letter author of the joint letter Professor Diana Sarfati from the University of Otago, Wellington, said cancer policy needed to have a clear focus on Indigenous populations to ensure health inequities were addressed.

“While there has been tremendous progress in preventing, diagnosing and treating many cancers, the potential of this progress has yet to be fully realised by the Indigenous peoples in our region. Large disparities remain in many countries,” said Professor Sarfati.

“We have identified issues - from lack of effective cancer prevention strategies, unequal access to and through cancer treatment and support services, and variable monitoring of cancer outcomes for Indigenous peoples, and these need to be addressed.”

The significance of the letter was recognised by the Director-General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who responded to the letter in the same issue of the Lancet Oncology. 

“Health equity for the current generation cannot wait, and we cannot fail future generations of Indigenous people,” Dr Tedros wrote, acknowledging the slow progress on Indigenous health.

Link to letter to Lancet Oncology from the New Zealand Symposium Organising Committee

Dr Tedros’s response letter.