CANBERRA, AAP – A $58 million plan to support 800,000 women with endometriosis has been unveiled as part of the upcoming federal budget.
The funding will go towards building treatment centres, improving telehealth services and offering Medicare rebates for MRI scans related to the disorder, which affects one in nine Australian women.
More than a quarter of the funding amount will go to establishing specialised endometriosis and pelvic pain clinics in each state and territory.
The clinics will host GPs who specialise in women’s health and pain management, nurses, allied health professionals and educators.
More than $5 million will help grow endometriosis research capacity and address research gaps.
Top Australian Brokers
The support for endometriosis treatment has been backed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s wife Jenny, who revealed she was diagnosed with the condition when she was 26, after struggling to conceive.
Mrs Morrison told the Nine Network on Friday she started experiencing pain when she was in year eight, but the condition went undiagnosed for years.
“Nothing helped, and then it got really severe. So, people with endometriosis, it’s not just like a few cramps or something like that, it’s actually really debilitating,” she said.
“When specialists told me, ‘you should give up (trying to conceive)’ and ‘it’s never going to happen for you’, when you hear that I was broken, I was really very upset.”
Ms Morrison then ended up having surgery for endometriosis before giving birth to two children naturally.
The prime minister said the funding will bring support through better diagnosis, treatment and care.
“I have seen firsthand with Jen just how debilitating endometriosis can be for women – the mental and physical toll it takes – and it’s so important we continue to fund new services and treatments for the hundreds of thousands of women who suffer from endometriosis,” Mr Morrison said.
A new Medicare rebate to help those planning for pregnancy access genetic testing for three life-threatening conditions will also be funded in the budget.
The $81 million package will make genetic testing available for conditions such as cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy and fragile X syndrome.
Meanwhile, the Royal Flying Doctor Service will be bolstered with $80 million of additional funding over the next decade.
Alongside the financial boost, the government will enter a 10-year partnership with the regional health service worth almost $1 billion.
Regional Health Minister David Gillespie says the partnership will give more long-term support to the organisation.
The new funding agreement will start from July 1 this year and it’s expected the 10-year strategic agreement between the government and the service will be put in place shortly afterwards.
“Our new formal agreement will give the RFDS certainty and allow it to offer more flexible services that are responsive to local patient’s needs,” Dr Gillespie said.
Since the start of the pandemic, the service has helped to deliver PPE to remote areas, as well as more than 75,000 COVID-19 vaccines.
The funding announcement comes after the federal government on Thursday revealed $260 million would go towards mental health for young people in the budget.
The federal budget will be handed down on Tuesday.