Migraine very rarely leads to death, but in severe cases, it can take everything worth living for.
‘Migraine in Australia’ by Deloitte Access Economics provides a groundbreaking insight into a hidden epidemic affecting 4.9 million patients and their families, employers, the Australian government and our health system. Migraine costs Australia a staggering $35.7 billion dollars each year.
Migraine is a complex, neurological disorder that affects men, women and children with varying attack frequencies and duration. According to the World Health Organization, severe migraine attacks are among the most disabling illnesses, comparable to dementia, quadriplegia and active psychosis.
Many chronic migraine patients are not able to find or get access to effective treatments with tolerable side effects to prevent or treat acute attacks.
In addition to the severe pain is the stigma of migraine. The stigma for chronic migraine is higher than that of epilepsy. Migraine is an invisible disease with few visual cues. Sufferers are frequently treated with skepticism and accusations of hypochondria for a legitimate neurobiological disorder. This adds insult to injury and further deepens the burden of disease.
Chronic migraine drives a wedge between the sufferer and their family, friends and colleagues. It also peaks in middle life when an individual is likely to be more actively engaged in work, social and family duties.
The cost of migraine extends beyond the individual and their families. Migraine costs Australia $14.3 billion dollars in health system costs and an additional $16.3 billion in lost productivity.
The shocking truth behind much of this personal suffering, hardship and cost is that most of it is preventable. Migraine can be effectively treated and managed in the majority of cases if barriers to care were broken down.
General practitioners are not given sufficient education in undergraduate medical school to effectively diagnose, treat and manage migraine. Patients are not adequately informed about proven self-management strategies to reduce migraine. The Australian government has done little to support research, patient awareness or change misinformed public opinion. Still today, migraine remains the least funded neurological disorder relative to it’s economic impact.
These barriers prevent modest access to quality treatment and reliable disease management information.
Migraine patients are looking for better results. Doctors want to be more effective with migraine patients. The health care system is looking to reduce costs. Employers and the government are looking to increase productivity.
Look no further.
Breaking down these barriers to migraine care is not only humane, but as you’ll see in this report, it also makes financial sense. The savings to be made in the national health system and the Australian government are in the billions.
And it’s long overdue.
Headache Australia is committed to increasing the awareness and support for headache patients in the consultation room, office and in the public domain.
We are working collaboratively with cross-functional stakeholders from different areas in medicine, public office, research and industry to this aim.
Most recently we visited Canberra to speak to members of Parliament and their staff about the findings in this whitepaper.
Fortunately, the story was also picked up by the media. See below for images from the event, media coverage and the SBS video coverage from the event.