Endometriosis

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:20): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing on the topic of endometriosis.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Endometriosis is a chronic and progressive menstrual health disorder that affects at least one in 10 women of reproductive age. It often results in severe and chronic pain and can lead to infertility. Diagnosis currently takes seven to 10 years on average, largely due to lack of awareness and understanding of the condition amongst primary healthcare professionals, as well as consumers themselves. Only this year, that has started to change in terms of the attention given to this previously unknown illness.

In the May budget, the Turnbull government committed $1 million to increase awareness and understanding of endometriosis amongst our GPs and other front-line health professionals. They have also released a draft national action plan which has three priority areas; that is, awareness and education, clinical management and care and research. My question to the minister is: what is the status of the work done to get up the schools program that is highlighted in that education and awareness national action plan and how much of the $1 million to GPs and other front-line health professionals has been rolled out in South Australia in their education?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (15:21): I thank the honourable member for her question. I would agree with her that the last year or two has been a watershed for endometriosis. I think, when the history is written, parliamentarians across the nation will be able to take a particular responsibility, if you like, for having raised awareness. My impression is, in the councils of health that I am involved in and advocacy such as the Hon. Tammy Franks is involved in, that in recent times it's often been the politicians who have been urging action, even where perhaps clinicians did not give it the same priority.

As the honourable member said, it's very important that we support women who have this condition. Early intervention is vital. Our South Australian public hospitals provide a range of early interventions, including medical with drugs or via surgery. We are also developing online self-assessment tools for endometriosis. They are currently being developed with endometriosis support groups, clinicians, IT developers and researchers from across the country. A research initiative has been established to evaluate three models of care delivery for physiotherapy services at the Women's and Children's Hospital for girls and women with pelvic pain.

The honourable member was correct in highlighting the importance of awareness and education. As I know she understands, often young girls and women don't understand what is happening, so it is very important that young women and girls get information so they can understand what might be happening to them. It is very important not only to have the treatment options that I have already highlighted but that we do what we can do in terms of awareness and education.

The honourable member was correct in highlighting that awareness and education is one of the three key prongs in the national endometriosis action plan, which was consulted through May, and consultation closed on 28 May. When I last addressed this matter in the council, I think we were expecting the plan to come out in June. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case, but I can update the council that, at the next COAG health council meeting, which is in early August, the National Action Plan for Endometriosis is on the agenda, and I expect it will be released then or soon after.

I am aware that the commonwealth is already making funding announcements under the plan, so I look forward to working with the commonwealth in not only endorsing a plan but implementing it. As minister Ridgway would say, 'That's where the rubber hits the road.'

In terms of the pilot program the honourable member referred to, the Menstrual Health and Endometriosis program pilot, it was held in 2017 in 10 South Australian secondary schools and was evaluated positively. I met with the honourable member and proponents and I can assure you that the government is continuing to actively consider funding that might be able to build on that work and to look for other opportunities as the plan rolls out. The funding that was announced today I am sure is not the last, and we hope that at both the state level and the federal level we can work in partnership with the commonwealth in both the resourcing and the implementation of the plan.

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  • Tammy Franks
    published this page in Questions 2018-08-07 09:45:30 +0930

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