It's time for a national migraine strategy

It's time we had a national strategy to manage migraine. A national strategy provides a nationally coordinated strategic framework to tackle a big problem - and there aren't many problems bigger than migraine. 

The size of the migraine problem is not just about the sheer number of patients. It's also about the stunning lack of existing efforts to build upon. And the complexity of managing migraine disorder.

Migraine Australia's Migraine Warrior Network is the first-ever support service for people with migraine. There is no agreed management plan or easy-to-follow tool for GPs to help them manage migraine patients. There is a set of guidelines for managing migraine crisis in the emergency room... which is more often than not ignored

This is what happens when a serious condition is systematically dismissed as an unimportant symptom. We get nothing. We get shame and stigma; treated like whingers, liars, drug seekers. We are told to go home, that we don't need to be referred to a neurologist, that we just need to live with it. 

When it's not being dismissed as 'just a headache', the doctors and others who take the time to really understand migraine struggle with the complexity of it. It can take years to work with a migraine patient to find a treatment plan that works, identify all the triggers and get them back to health. Migraine isn't just a pain condition, nor does it restrict its impact to the brain: it can affect balance, mobility, hormones and menstrual cycles, and cause significant gastrointestinal issues. And takes a huge toll on mental health for many patients. Properly caring for someone with significant migraine requires a multi-disciplinary care team.

The effort required to turn this enormous ship around is huge. We need all the resources of government, all stakeholders, and the entire community, all pulling on the same oar.   

We can help all five million Australians who live with migraine to manage their condition, enjoy better health and be able to stay a productive member of society rather than be debilitated... if we have a national strategy. 

A national strategy can get all stakeholders on the same page, develop and implement a coordinated strategy to deal with both the numbers of patients, the lack of existing resources, and the complexity of the condition. 

It also signals to the entire health system and the community at large that migraine does matter. It's not just a headache. Migraine is a priority and we're going to finally do something about it. 

Talk to your MP or candidates and tell them you want a national migraine strategy.

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