Health minister sets up working group to improve endometriosis care in Belgium

Minister of health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) has established a working group to improve endometriosis care in Belgium. He said this in response to the Federal Knowledge Center for Healthcare (KCE) report about the incurable condition.

Endometriosis affects an estimated one to ten in 100 women, with an average of 162 hospital admissions per 100,000 women annually in Belgium. Some only experience classic menstrual pain, but for many patients, the pain has a significant impact on daily life. The condition cannot be cured, but it can be alleviated with pain medication, hormone treatment or, in some cases, surgery.

"It often takes six to ten years before they receive a correct diagnosis"

Last June, Vandenbroucke asked the KCE to investigate the state of endometriosis care in Belgium. The subsequent report concluded that care for the condition is fragmented, indicating that of the 77 hospitals that completed a KCE questionnaire, 30 stated that they took the initiative to set up an endometriosis clinic. "However, there are no recognition conditions attached to this, which means that this label has many meanings," according to the KCE. Additionally, patient testimonials show that it often takes six to ten years before they receive a correct diagnosis.

KCE has advocated for more attention in medical training and multidisciplinary endometriosis clinics in every hospital network. Operations would be provided in these specialised reference centres with teams of gynaecologists, abdominal surgeons and urologists.

With the aim of actionable plans by mid-May and concrete proposals by the end of 2024, Vandenbroucke has asked the Technical Medical Council and the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (Riziv) to set up a working group to implement changes in the medical system concretely. The group will determine which conditions the reference centres and clinics must meet to be recognised and develop an adapted remuneration system for endometriosis procedures.

Minister of health Frank Vandenbroucke. ​ © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

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