On March 13th, 2019 in the Executive Wing of Parliament Buildings known as the Beehive, Wellington, New Zealand, Dr Duncan Webb MP for Christchurch Central and Endometriosis New Zealand (ENZ) co-hosted a meeting with politicians, the Ministry of Health, Clinicians and invited guests as part of its 2019 Endometriosis Awareness Month activities. The meeting was opened by a mihi whakatau and an introduction from Dr Duncan Webb who encouraged us all to open the conversation about endometriosis.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss:
- health challenges faced by those suffering from endometriosis and the impact of the disease on the New Zealanders and NZ society
- contemporary treatment options
- legislative reform to support improved health care and the new Clinical Pathway for Endometriosis in the NZ setting.
Deborah Bush MNZM, QSM and Professor Neil Johnson were key speakers together with politicians, and officials from the Ministry of Health, RANZCOG, the corporate sector, clinicians, media and patients. The strong advocacy was supported by evidence-based data, shared stories and the achievements in New Zealand which have set global standards of excellence through education and best practice treatments. In her captivating story, Susie Ferguson concluded “ …… we remake the world now for the thousands of people in this country trapped and held hostage by their bodies, and choose to be on the right side of history. Enough is enough, it is time for change.”
An extract from Deborah Bush’s powerful speech “Endometriosis is a major public health issue. But not just that, it’s a gender issue, a human rights issue, a workplace issue, an educational issue, a cultural issue, a Maori health issue and a mental health issue. It’s about geographic, social and economic disparity, financial burdens, justice and fairness and there isn’t anything kind about not being able to access care in a country like NZ. There is nothing kind about being told ‘it’s all in your head’ or you’ll be ok when you have a baby……”
Following on from earlier moves by Endometriosis NZ to engage the NZ Government, a TASK FORCE was established in 2015 comprising Endometriosis New Zealand (ENZ); Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG); the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP); Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (FPMANZCA); patients, and other advisors. Some four years on and after much debate and careful consideration of world guidelines for endometriosis and their application to the New Zealand setting, a new Clinical Pathway for the Treatment of Endometriosis in NZ has been created and is currently in draft. It has been approved by the New Zealand Branch of RANZCOG and is under review by the other Medical Colleges. The aim is for it to be released and implemented during 2019. It aims to improve the diagnosis and management of endometriosis in New Zealand through promoting:
- early recognition of symptoms suspicious of endometriosis
- management of patients in primary health care
- an appropriately trained, multidisciplinary environment in secondary and tertiary care
- equity of access and health outcomes.
We look forward to bringing you an update of the new Clinical Pathway once it has been adopted. This is a very exciting and unique initiative, but not unusual for Endometriosis New Zealand’s vision over three decades to drive change for those with endometriosis through advocacy, unique educational programmes in schools1, workplaces and CME for health professionals and of course support services for those with endometriosis.
Thank you to all those who contributed to this major advocacy campaign by responding to our Facebook post. Your voice was brought to Parliament and was an eye-opener for politicians and key to our main messages.
Special thanks to Dr Duncan Webb, MP for supporting Endometriosis NZ and our cause.
Jodee Watts’ talk can be found here
1. Bush D et al Endometriosis Education in Schools: A New Zealand model examining the impact of an education program in schools on early recognition of symptoms suggesting endometriosis. https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajo.12614/full%25