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NZ's 1st Indian MP Becomes Breast Cancer Foundation Ambassador

NZ’s first Indian-born MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, a prominent figure in New Zealand's Indian community and the country's first Indian-born Member of Parliament, has been appointed as the newest ambassador for Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

Bakshi, who entered Parliament in 2008 and served four terms, expressed his commitment to raising breast cancer awareness. "After witnessing the impact of breast cancer on my loved ones, I have come to realise the importance of educating people and providing support for those who need it," he said.



His primary goal as ambassador is to increase awareness about early detection, extend support to those affected by breast cancer, and advocate for better healthcare resources and services for patients and survivors.

"Cultural stigmas and a lack of awareness are still preventing timely diagnosis and treatment," Bakshi noted. "By engaging with the Indian community, we can dispel myths, promote regular breast screening, and offer culturally sensitive support."

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ's chief executive, Ah-Leen Rayner, highlighted the importance of reaching more Kiwi-Indians about early detection. "Asian women in New Zealand are getting breast cancer at a younger age than other ethnic groups and also have the lowest breast screening participation rates," she said. "There's a lot we must do to ensure more Asian women survive breast cancer."

Rayner praised Bakshi's efforts in securing engagement opportunities for nurse educators to attend cultural events and fostering relationships with key funders. "Kanwal is a respected community leader, and we are grateful to have him join us as an ambassador, playing a vital role in the promotion of early detection," she added.

Breast cancer is the most common female cancer in New Zealand, with around 3,500 women diagnosed every year. Early detection is key, with a 95% 10-year survival rate for women diagnosed through screening. The Foundation encourages women to be breast aware from age 20 and consider starting mammograms at 40.

In addition to his political career, Bakshi has been involved in charitable endeavors, including the Indian Global Business Chamber and the Seva Charitable Trust, highlighting his commitment to community welfare beyond the political sphere.

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