The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the global campaign against headaches “lifting the burden” published an Atlas of headache disorders and resources in the world 2011. The main points of this key publication of the WHO about headaches describe the current supply situation and the necessary steps towards a timely improvement of the diagnostic and treatment of headache disorders:
- Headache disorders are ubiquitous, prevalent and disabling. Yet they are under-recognized, under- diagnosed and under-treated worldwide:
- a minority of people with headache disorders are professionally diagnosed;
- management guidelines are used routinely in 55 % of responding countries, but much less commonly in low-income countries;
- despite there being a range of drugs with efficacy against headache, countries in all income categories identify non-availability of appropriate medication as a barrier to best management;
- worldwide, only four hours are committed to headache disorders in formal undergraduate medical training, and lack of education is seen as the key issue impeding good management of headache;
- illness that could be relieved is not, and burdens, both individual and societal, persist unnecessarily;
- financial costs to society through lost productivity are enormous.
- Among proposals for change: better professional education ranks far above all
- a third of responding countries also recommend improved organization and delivery of health care for headache.
- Given the very high indirect costs of headache, greater investment in health care that treats headache effectively may well be cost-saving overall.