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Preventing Cancer Symposium

He Hui Kohinga Kōrero mō te Ārai Mate Pukupuku

Tuesday 18 February 2020

CSNZ logo horizontal with Maori It is estimated that between 30 and 50% of all cancers worldwide could be prevented.

Join with leading thinkers and practitioners to explore cancer prevention in the Western Pacific region. Examine the state of prevention with a particular focus on alcohol, nutrition and body weight, sun safety and tobacco. Address the challenge for equity within and between nations. Explore the lack of action in the face of good evidence for cancer prevention.

Learn lessons from progress to-date e.g. sugary-drinks taxes in the Pacific, comprehensive tobacco control in Aotearoa, shade interventions for sun safety in Australia. Consider policy, community and health sector action at global, regional, national and local levels. Identify the commonalities in cancer prevention and consider the opportunities for collaboration. Up-date your knowledge and sharpen your strategies.

This symposium is led by the Cancer Society Research Collaboration.

Topics covered

  1. What is the latest evidence for harm and inequity from alcohol, nutrition, body-weight, tobacco and sun exposure?
  2. How good is the evidence for action?
  3. What are the key areas for action – e.g. price, marketing, availability etc?
  4. What are the synergies between the areas? How can we link them up?
  5. What are the barriers to progress and how can they be overcome?

Style of course

Seminar style teaching, photographic internet presentation, interactive discussion.

Who should attend?

This course is aimed at people in the Western Pacific region, including:

  • Practitioners and academics aiming to prevent cancer and other NCDs
  • Practitioners and academics concerned with preventing harm from alcohol, unhealthy nutrition, tobacco and sun exposure
  • Policy makers from central and local government
  • NGO staff, advocates and academics
  • Health professionals.

By the end of this course participants should have:

  • Up-to-date knowledge about cancer prevention
  • Increased knowledge and skill in promoting equitable solutions in the region
  • Reflected on the links between areas of prevention and actions they can take to strengthen prevention efforts
  • Explored key barriers to coordinated action and ways to overcome them.

Draft timetable

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration
9:00am Mihi whakatau & Introductions Professor Louise Signal & teaching team
The need for Cancer Prevention in the Pacific Region Dr Colin Tukuitonga and Professor Diana Sarfati
A Smokefree Aotearoa? Not yet! Jude & Teaching team
10:30am Morning tea
11:00am Alcohol and Cancer: Evidence of harm and inequity Professor Jennie Connor (by video)
Nutrition and Cancer: Evidence of harm and inequity in the region Dr Rachael McLean
Sun & Cancer: The state of play in the region Professor David Whiteman
What are the commonalities & opportunities for collaboration? Teaching team – workshop with participants
12:30pm Lunch break
1:30pm What are the best buys for action? How good is the evidence? 10 mins each
Alcohol Dr Nicki Jackson
Nutrition Professor Louise Signal & Dr Andrea Teng
Tobacco Professor Louise Signal & Dr Jude Ball
Sun Safety Professor David Whiteman
What are the links? Teaching team
workshop with participants
How are we doing in the region? Dr Colin Tukuitonga
Professor Louise Signal
3:00pm Afternoon tea  
3:30pm Lessons from Tobacco for Cancer Prevention Professor Janet Hoek
Commonalities in action, barriers to progress, ways to overcome them & opportunities for collaboration Teaching team workshop with participants
Panel discussion Teaching team
Closing remarks Dr Colin Tukuitonga & Professor Louise Signal
5:00pm Finish
5:15pm Evening event Dr Colin Tukuitonga
Reflections on Public Health in the Pacific Region


  • Associate Professor Sue Crengle (Ngai Tahu, Kati Mamoe, Waitaha), co-Director of the Cancer Society Research Collaboration and Public Health Physician and practicing GP
    Sue has a particular focus on Māori and equity. Her research interests include inequities in health, health services research, quality of care, and child and youth health. Much of her work involves identifying where and how inequities for Māori occur, and in testing ways to eliminate these inequities. She is the Chair of the Te Waipounamu Māori Leadership Group for Cancer and is a member of the Southern Cancer Network’s Steering Group.
  • Dr Nicki Jackson is the Executive Director of Alcohol Healthwatch. She completed her PhD at Auckland University in 2016, examining the role of the socio-economic, physical and social neighbourhood environment in adolescent alcohol use. She has extensive experience in managing regulatory and health promotion aspects of alcohol-harm reduction as well a strong academic background in teaching health promotion.
  • Dr Rachael McLean, co-Director of the Cancer Society Research Collaboration and Public Health Physician
    Rachael has research expertise is in the field of public health nutrition and epidemiology, including risk and protective factors for prevention and better management of chronic disease. Dr McLean also has expertise in public health approaches to improving nutrition at an individual and population level with research into measurement, policy and strategies for individuals who struggle to maintain optimal nutrition in an environment that encourages over-consumption of energy, alcohol, salt and sugar.
  • Professor Louise Signal, co-Director of the Cancer Society Research Collaboration and Director of the Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit at the University of Otago, Wellington.
    Louise is a social scientist with a PhD in public health. She has worked for many years in cancer prevention including in the areas of alcohol, nutrition and sun safety. She is the principal investigator on the innovative Kids’Cam project that explores children’s lives through use of automated cameras worn by students aged 11-13 in both New Zealand and Tonga.
  • Dr Colin Tukuitonga is Director-General of The Secretariat of the Pacific Community based at the organisation’s headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia. His previous roles include: Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs; Associate Professor of Public Health and Head of Pacific and International Health at the University of Auckland; Director of Public Health, New Zealand Ministry of Health; and Head of Surveillance and Prevention of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases at the World Health Organization, Switzerland.
  • Dr Jude Ball joined the Department of Public Health, Otago, Wellington in November 2014 as a research fellow in the ASPIRE 2025 tobacco control research group, with a background in critical psychology, health promotion and applied research. She recently completed a PhD exploring the drivers of long term trends in adolescent risk behaviour, in particular smoking, cannabis use, binge drinking and sexual behaviour. Her research focuses on the impact of the changing social context on youth trends, and the inter-relationships between smoking and other risk behaviours in young people. Current projects include leading the young adult strand of the EASE cohort study of smokers and recent quitters; analysis of Youth Insights Survey data 2012-2018 to explore the determinants of smoking and smoking decline in Māori and non-Māori Year 10 students aged 14-15 years; and analysis of the Youth19 survey, the latest in the Youth 2000 surveys of secondary school students. She recently joined the Adolescent Health Research Group, the team behind the Youth 2000 series, and is a long term active member of the Public Health Association.
  • Professor Jennie Connor is a public health physician and epidemiologist, who teaches epidemiology at the University of Otago in Dunedin. She has 20 years of experience in public health research that has largely focussed on injury prevention, sexual and reproductive health, the health impacts of alcohol and alcohol policy. Professor Connor has completed two assessments of the "Alcohol-attributable burden of disease and injury in New Zealand" with international collaborators, including estimates of alcohol-attributable cancer. She is a medical spokesperson for Alcohol Action New Zealand, an incorporated society advocating for the adoption of evidence-based policy to reduce harm from alcohol.
  • Professor Janet Hoek, co-Director of the Cancer Society Research Collaboration and co-Director of the HRC-funded programme Whakahā o Te Pā Harakeke. Janet has led several smokefree research studies, including research into plain (standardised) packaging, tobacco retailing, new product innovation, and electronic nicotine delivery systems. She has also undertaken research into food marketing and consumption, and is currently examining associations between alcohol use and smoking uptake. Janet has contributed to several national and international advisory groups and has a strong on-going interest in the commercial determinants of health.
  • Christina McKerchar (Ngāti Kahungunu, Tūhoe and Ngāti Porou) trained as a nutritionist, had a lead role at Te Hotu Manawa Māori, continues to advice to Toi Tangata (Māori nutrition provider) and is a Lecturer in Māori health at the University of Otago, Christchurch. She has a half-time HRC Māori PhD Scholarship to study the food environment of Māori children using the Kids`Cam data due for completion in late 2020.
  • Professor Diana Sarfati is the Interim Chief Executive of the New Zealand Cancer Control Agency. Diana is a public health physician, cancer epidemiologist and health services researcher. She is currently on leave from her position as Head of the Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington. Diana is a Director of the Cancer Society Research Collaboration and the Director of the Cancer and Chronic Conditions (C3) research group at University of Otago, Wellington.
  • Dr Andrea Teng is a Public Health Medicine Specialist and Senior Research Fellow. Andrea’s interests are in epidemiology and public health, particularly in research that improves equity and health. As a leader on the Virtual Health Information Network she is developing research capacity and promoting better quality research in the Statistics New Zealand Integrated Data Infrastructure. Andrea has led studies on mortality, cancer and smoking for the New Zealand Census and Mortality Study & CancerTrends using census mortality linked data, and several studies on the contribution of H. pylori to ethnic inequities in stomach cancer in New Zealand. She is currently doing a PhD investigating the impact of sugar sweetened beverage taxation in Pacific Island countries and territories.
  • Professor David Whiteman is the Coordinator of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Research Centre, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. Brisbane, Australia. David is a medical epidemiologist with a special interest in the causes, control and prevention of cancer. He received his medical degree from the University of Queensland in 1991, and his PhD in cancer epidemiology in 1997. He was awarded a Nuffield Medical Research Fellowship to undertake post-doctoral training at the University of Oxford in cancer epidemiology. He returned to Brisbane in 2000, and now leads a large program of cancer research comprising national and international studies of melanoma and other cancers. Professor Whiteman has an international reputation for research into cancers of the skin and gastrointestinal tract, and for his more recent work on cancer control. In 2019 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to cancer research.

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after 19 December 2019.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

Register now