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Endometriosis action plan gets green light

An endometriosis action plan has the backing of Australia’s health ministers, including Greg Hunt.A plan to improve outcomes for women suffering endometriosis, a painful, prevalent but often misdiagnosed condition, has received backing from all states and territories.

The decision comes amid high-profile athletes and entertainers coming forward to speak about their battles with the gynaecological condition.

The national action plan for endometriosis was unanimously supported by all health ministers at the Council of Australian Governments health ministers meeting in Sydney on Friday.

The plan will identify gaps in education among medical professionals and the wider community as well as support and care for sufferers.

“Our task now, through the action plan and the work of the professionals, is to ensure that the doctors have the information they need to assist with that diagnosis,” federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters after the meeting.

“And that patients, women suffering endometriosis who may not know that’s what they have, have the confidence to seek that diagnosis and not suffer in silence.”

Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other parts of the body, commonly in the reproductive organs but often in the bowel and bladder. It often causes severe pelvic pain and can cause infertility.

Endometriosis affects an estimated one-in-10 women and diagnosis of the condition takes on average about eight to nine years.

Women and researchers have long been campaigning for doctors to start taking the medical condition seriously, but taboos have made headway difficult, Endometriosis Australia director Donna Ciccia told AAP.

“Some women think it’s just a family curse,” Mc Ciccia said.

“Those who have it discuss whether they should go to the emergency department when the pain can’t be managed.”

Sufferers are frequently dismissed by family members or medical professionals as merely having “period pain”, she added.

“We just had one woman tell us she was dismissed twice, once as having an anxiety attack and once for being a drug seeker.”

Ms Ciccia welcomed the plan as a “great step forward”.

Emma Watkins, who plays the Yellow Wiggle in the iconic children’s band, announced on Friday she would miss the rest of the tour to undergo surgery for endometriosis.

She joins Commonwealth Games swimmer Madeline Groves who went public with her endometriosis battle after surgery.

Ms Ciccia said a cure for the disease was unlikely to be found in her lifetime but she hopes the next generation of women won’t walk the same painful path.

Australian Associated Press

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