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Views wanted of people exposed to dioxins

The Ministry of Health has released a public discussion document about health support services for people exposed to dioxins. Specifically, this refers to people who lived in Paritutu, New Plymouth, between 1962 and 1987 who may have been exposed to dioxins from the Ivon Watkins-Dow (IWD) plant. The MoH has concluded that the dioxin levels found among this group may cause increased rates of disease, in particular cancer. This group is being asked for their views on health support needs and what services they believe should be provided. However, the views of others who may have been exposed to dioxins (eg, through occupational exposure) are also being sought, as it is possible a support service could cover them also. Support options include: regular health check-ups provided by GPs; access to health promotion initiatives, such as programmes to reduce cancer risk; counselling services; tests that screen for dioxin exposure and DNA damage; access to tests that screen for conditions associated with dioxin exposure; and genetic counselling services. The document includes proposed eligibility criteria, and ways of ensuring information is provided to health practitioners on dioxin exposure. It also discusses whether services should be made available to the children and grandchildren of exposed people. Meetings will be held in July with a range of interested parties, to discuss the options and to seek feedback. Separate meetings are being organised with other affected groups (eg, timber treatment workers exposed to dioxin and Vietnam veterans). Submissions must be received by Wednesday 8 August. For the discussion document and a submission form see www.moh.govt.nz/moh.nsf/indexmh/dioxins-healthsupportprogramme (Ministry of Health)

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