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NZer makes history at international health conference

29 April 2014

New Zealander makes history at international health conference

Chief executive officer for Endometriosis New Zealand (ENZ), Deborah Bush, will attend the World Congress on Endometriosis in Brazil this week, as the only non-medically trained keynote speaker in the world.

ENZ is the leading organisation behind the tens of thousands of women in New Zealand who suffer from endometriosis, and Bush says presenting at the international conference as the only non-medic, is both an honour and a career highlight.

“It’s a huge privilege to be presenting at the World Congress on Endometriosis with top health care providers, specialist gynaecologists and researchers from all around the world. We know that this disease affects at least one in ten girls and women internationally which makes it a huge public health issue,” said Ms Bush.

“The impact of the condition affects the bottom line of companies both in productivity and absenteeism as well as causing immense suffering to girls and women, their families and society as a whole. It’s a costly public health issue too big to ignore.

“Endometriosis has been a silent disease because it is often side-lined as being ‘ikky’ and believe it or not; it remains one of the last taboos in modern medicine despite it being so common.”

The world conference aims to provide up-to-date medical research, forums and discussions to improve health outcomes for the estimated 176 million women worldwide who suffer from endometriosis - 120,000 of whom are New Zealanders.

“We know that in New Zealand there are thousands of girls and women who suffer from the symptoms of endometriosis who probably don’t know that what they’re experiencing is not normal,and the numbers are likely to be a lot higher,” added Ms Bush.

The New York State Department of Health also recently recognised endometriosis as one of three critical diseases that causes significant harm to young people, which demonstrates the desperate need for support services and programmes for those living with endometriosis; including the world leading menstrual health education programme (‘me’) created by Ms Bush 17 years ago.

“Endometriosis New Zealand currently offers several services throughout New Zealand to aid girls and women with this disease including localised support networks and the internationally recognised health and education program ‘me’, delivered in secondary schools around New Zealand.

“There is still an unacceptable eight-plus year diagnostic delay from when a woman first presents with symptoms to diagnosis. Through creating awareness, we hope to significantly reduce this delay to help support more women who are not yet diagnosed, or seeking access to best care or help after treatment.”

Ms Bush will play a major role at the conference and address these issues, where one of her presentations will highlight the unique world leading services and programmes offered by ENZ.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside the uterus where it shouldn’t be. The endometriosis tissue can appear to be red and inflamed but can also form nodules and cysts. It is mostly found within the pelvic region on structures such as the pelvic lining (peritoneum), ovaries, bowel, Pouch of Douglas as well as the bladder and uterine ligaments.

The symptoms of endometriosis can be far-reaching and severely affect a woman’s quality of life, schooling, career, workplace productivity, relationships and fertility. This condition can also place significant financial stress on families and despite the disease often going ‘under the radar’; the burdens of this disease are staggering.

Endometriosis can be a complex condition to treat and manage and while there is currently no cure, symptoms can be effectively managed and treated to improve a woman’s quality of life and boost fertility.

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