"The allocation of more than $1 million to address Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) by the Rudd Government is great news for Australian women," said Professor Helena Teede, director of research for the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health.
PCOS is a debilitating condition affecting 11% of Australian women of reproductive age and 21% of indigenous women. The Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health has taken the lead, supported by the key community association POSAA, in forming the National Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Alliance. The Alliance is comprised of national leaders from research, clinical and community sectors and aims to strengthen collaborations between these key groups.
The Foundation has worked closely with Minister Roxon and the Department, and the Australian Government will now provide $1,134,000 over three years to fund the National PCOS Alliance to provide education, facilitate research and optimise evidence-based health care relating to PCOS.
"We applaud Minister Roxon's recognition of the important contribution the National PCOS Alliance can make to both women's health and the preventive health agenda in Australia," said Prof Teede.
"PCOS has been poorly understood in the past, leading many women to suffer delays in diagnosis, and sub-optimal treatment," she said. "Now that we do know more about the most effective treatment and management it's vital that we get this information out to women and their healthcare practitioners."
Australian research shows that 89% of women with PCOS saw more than one health professional before their diagnosis was made, 49% took greater than six months to have a diagnosis confirmed and 41% were very dissatisfied with the manner in which they were informed of their diagnosis.
Nearly 62% of women were not given educational resources after their diagnosis. Furthermore, little information is given about lifestyle management or complications of PCOS even though 57% of women were confident their lifestyle management will improve their condition.
Although the answers are emerging from research, they have not yet translated into practice. International consensus and guidelines on PCOS are limited. The first task for the National PCOS Alliance is the development of the first national, and in many areas, first international evidence-based guidelines for the diagnosis and care of women with PCOS.
The funding will also support the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health, in collaboration with the Alliance, to undertake a comprehensive education program for women and healthcare practitioners to ensure implementation of the guidelines. Recent needs analysis found that PCOS was the number one women's health condition on which GPs requested further information.
"Because of our internationally recognised researchers and clinicians in PCOS, and Australia's professional and proactive PCOS support group POSAA, Australia is in a prime position to take international leadership in the development of clear guidelines, evidence-based research and education for women, healthcare providers and the broader community," said Prof Teede.
"The Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health is very proud to facilitate this initiative and looks forward to working with the Alliance, POSAA and the Government to improve the health of Australian women."
Published with the permission of the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health
Tollfree number 1800 151 441 for women seeking further health information www.jeanhailes.org.au