Pain on the national agenda, now is the time for a National Pain Strategy
Pain on the national agenda, now is the time for a National Pain Strategy!
Painaustralia is pleased to see that pain is now at the forefront of Health Ministers’ agendas nationally, with three significant pain-related issues addressed at the April meeting of the COAG Health Council, and is calling for a broader national pain strategy to be put in place.
“We welcome this interest in the very important issue of pain, which affects millions of Australians and their families, as well as reducing the productivity and quality of life across our nation,” said Carol Bennett, CEO of Painaustralia, Australia’s peak body for pain.
“While progress on individual issues that contribute to pain is pleasing, we believe a national pain strategy is essential to effectively tackle the pain burden in Australia."
“A National Pain Strategy is needed now so the broader issues of pain can be addressed including: better access to multidisciplinary care; better education for consumers and health professionals; and more affordable treatments. A National Pain Strategy should also encompass the myriad of less common pain conditions, many of which are incredibly debilitating, but do not have a public profile.”
The three important pain-related outcomes from COAG are:
1. Ministers agreed to support the Commonwealth in collaboration with the states and territories to progress the development of a single national online application pathway to access unregistered medicinal cannabis. This will avoid duplication and allow patients to gain access to medicinal cannabis within 48 hours.
2. Ministers noted that the Commonwealth is developing an action plan for endometriosis – a condition that affects one in 10 women. Painaustralia understands a draft action plan will be open for public consultation next month.
3. Ministers agreed to a national real-time prescription monitoring scheme as a federated model, with jurisdictions committed to progressing development and adaptation of systems to connect to and interface with Commonwealth systems to achieve a national solution. Given the potential for increasing opioid addiction in Australia, effective real time monitoring wouold be one part of a National Pain Strategy.
“Australia already has a National Pain Strategy, endorsed by 150 organisations, which was developed seven years ago and in many ways this first strategy continues to be relevant today. It is critical that we update this strategy and move towards national implementation,” said Ms Bennett.
Chronic ongoing pain affects one in five Australians and one three over 65. It is estimated to cost the economy more than $34 billion a year and is a leading cause of early forced retirement, disability and poverty. The burden of pain is expected to increase as our population ages.