Southern Cross Healthcare joins effort to raise bowel cancer awareness

Collaboration includes donation to bolster education programme

Southern Cross Healthcare joins effort to raise bowel cancer awareness

Life & Health

By Roxanne Libatique

Southern Cross Healthcare has teamed up with Waitematā Endoscopy, The Rutherford Clinic, and Southern Endoscopy to support non-profit Bowel Cancer New Zealand’s awareness campaign during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this June.

The partnership aims to encourage New Zealanders to recognise symptoms and take preventive steps against bowel cancer.

Dr Erica Whineray Kelly (pictured), chief medical officer for Southern Cross Healthcare, highlighted the severity of bowel cancer in New Zealand, noting its rank as the second leading cause of cancer death in the country.

“Bowel cancer is preventable, detectable, and treatable – and we’re determined to be part of a system-wide drive to make a difference,” she said.

The collaborative effort includes a $20,000 donation to Bowel Cancer New Zealand to support nurse educator programs.

See LinkedIn post here.

Whineray Kelly emphasised the importance of education in health interventions.

“Education is at the heart of every successful health intervention, and we all know this will help more New Zealanders live healthier lives,” she said.

How does Southern Cross fight bowel cancer?

In 2023, Southern Cross and its partners conducted 23,318 endoscopy procedures, including colonoscopies, which are vital for diagnosing and initially treating bowel cancer. These procedures involve using a flexible tube with a camera to perform biopsies, remove polyps, and address other issues.

“We believe colonoscopy is the gold standard in bowel cancer diagnosis and initial treatment. While we can’t put an exact figure on the lives saved off the back of more than 23,000 procedures, our team and partners have many patients who have gone on to get rid of the disease, recover quickly, and get back to living a meaningful and productive life. Those are the outcomes that drive us,” Whineray Kelly said.

Bowel Cancer New Zealand welcomes support

Rebekah Heal, general manager of Bowel Cancer New Zealand, expressed gratitude for the support.

“The donation and support from Southern Cross Healthcare and their endoscopy partners; Waitematā Endoscopy, The Rutherford Clinic, and Southern Endoscopy will help so much in the delivery of our education programme and to arm more New Zealanders with the knowledge they need to identify and manage this insidious disease,” she said. “We know the work Southern Cross and their partners do in conjunction with the public system makes an impact. And we’re looking forward to achieving even more success by collaborating with them to tackle bowel cancer.”

Bowel cancer symptoms

Heal emphasised the June campaign’s focus on the importance of taking two minutes to check for five critical symptoms:

  • bleeding from the bottom
  • changes in bowel habits
  • persistent or sporadic abdominal pain
  • a lump or mass in the stomach
  • unexplained weight loss

“If you have some concerns, head straight to your GP. They may then refer you on to a specialist for an endoscopy/colonoscopy or for other interventions or explorations,” she said.

This year, Southern Cross shone at the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand awards, with the organisation winning in the health insurance, life insurance, and travel insurance categories. It also received a “highly commended” mention for its pet insurance business. This month, Southern Cross Healthcare announced that its employees will visit beaches and open spaces to collect and dispose of rubbish.

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