Hope for endometriosis patients as action plan aims to deliver better treatment

Neelima Choahan

26/07/2018 4:12:17 PM

A national action plan on endometriosis is designed to help hundreds of thousands of Australian women.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt at the official launch of the endometriosis action plan. (Image: Brendan Esposito)
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt at the official launch of the endometriosis action plan. (Image: Brendan Esposito)

The Federal Government has pledged to end the suffering of 700,000 women and girls living with endometriosis with Australia’s first national action plan aimed to provide better treatment, diagnosis, and finding a cure.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the National Action Plan for Endometriosis will target improving awareness and understanding of the condition, speeding up diagnosis, and developing better diagnostic and treatment options.
‘Many have suffered in silence for far too long, enduring diagnostic delays of between seven and 12 years on average,’ Minister Hunt said.
‘Patients have historically experienced poor clinical care, due to a low level of understanding of the condition, both amongst the public and the medical community.’
The Government will inject $1.2 million into implementing the plan, bringing its total investment to $4.7 million.
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue is found outside of the uterus. During the menstrual cycle, the tissue that lines the uterus breaks down, bleeds and leaves the body. But the blood from the extra tissue outside the uterus remains inside, causing inflammation and often significant pain.
Endometriosis can also cause organ damage, and lead to issues of mental health, social and economic stress and infertility.

Although endometriosis is a relatively common condition in Australia, affecting one in 10 women of reproductive age, the path to diagnosis can be a long one, often as many as seven years.

A steering group, whose members include gynaecologist Dr Susan Evans and Sylvia Freedman, founder of endometriosis patient advocacy group EndoActive, will oversee the implementation of the plan over the next five years.
Professor Danielle Mazza, Head of the Department of General Practice at Monash University and author of Women’s health in general practice, told newsGP she believes is a ‘wonderful initiative’, but would benefit from greater GP involvment.

‘Given that women present primarily to GPs with the symptoms of endometriosis and GPs are integral to the diagnosis and management of this condition, it would have been good to have GP representation on the national steering group,’ she said.

‘The development of a clinical guideline in endometriosis should involve GPs on the guideline development group.’

Professor Mazza said research funding should be directed to better understanding the prevalence of this condition in general practice.

‘How it presents and how GPs currently approach it, as well as the barriers and enablers to GP management of endometriosis, so that interventions can be better designed to improve health outcomes for women,’ she said. 

The plan will also include $2.5 million National Endometriosis Clinical and Scientific Trials Network, allowing patients to take part in research targeted to develop better diagnostic options, treatments, and work towards the development of a cure.
Jean Hailes for Women’s Health will receive $200,000 to roll out an online national awareness campaign in September as part of the Women’s Health Week, encouraging women to visit their GP if they are experiencing symptoms of endometriosis.
A total of $1 million will be provided towards supporting frontline healthcare professionals, including GPs, with better access to educational resources about endometriosis, in order to help reduce diagnostic delay and ensure the right clinical care is provided to the right patients at the right time. This will include the development of a short course in endometriosis for primary healthcare professionals.

This article has been updated to include Professor Danielle Mazza’s comments.

endometriosis National Action Plan for Endometriosis

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Christine McConnell   28/07/2018 12:40:38 AM

And will this action plan include PBS listing of appropriate medications?