Read about the success of this year’s Education in Headache to Healthcare Providers in Africa and how it is bringing headache education on a global scale.
On May 14, the 2nd Annual Education in Headache to Healthcare Providers in Africa (EHHPA) was held to provide world-class headache and migraine training to providers in Africa. Hundreds partook in the full-day event to enhance their knowledge on headache and migraine treatments and therapies and better understand how neurological diseases globally impact everyone.
Headache is one of the most common and disabling neurological diseases. As such, it is important that healthcare professionals understand how it impacts patients. This year’s event was hosted by Dr. Augustina Charway-Felli, President of the African Academy of Neurology (AFAN), and Dr. Riadh Gouider, Co-Opted Trustee of the World Federation of Neurology (WFN),
The event featured both international and African experts, including leadership members Dr. David Dodick, Chair of IHS-GPAC, Prof. Wolgang Grisold, President of WFN, and Dr. Henrik Schytz, Chair of the IHS Education committee. IHS-GPAC, AFAN, and WFN collaborated to provide this full-day virtual event with information about treatments and therapies on headache.
“With this webinar series, we hope to make it easier to help those suffering from headache,” says Dr. Charway-Felli. “So that irrespective of geographical location and economic status, those who suffer from headache on our continent can have access to appropriate care.”
“Mandela said that education is the most powerful weapon if you want to change the world, so we need to educate people to become advocates. And we need to educate the healthcare workforce so that we can improve access,” says Dr. Dodick. “This is going to require a grassroots effort to mobilize a healthcare workforce to improve access so that we can deliver the care that we know how to deliver, but it’s going to require education and mobilization.”
With 77 countries represented (35 of which were from Africa), the program was designed to provide education to primary healthcare providers (of all levels), including residents and trainees. The turnout for this year’s event saw a 51% increase from last year, with 839 registrants in total. The top three categories of participants were neurologists, general practitioners and residents in neurology.
“Knowledge, care, and drugs improve patients’ headaches, and it is important to seek more knowledge about this important condition,” says Prof. Grisold.
Watch the opening remarks from Dr. Charway-Felli and Prof. Grisold.
EHHPA is dedicated to ensuring that medical professionals are educated in headache and migraine. There were several speakers and hot-button topics, but a few lectures and subjects took the spotlight.
Dr. Cristina Tassorelli, President of the International Headache Society and Director of the Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Pavia, presented the “Migraine: Overview of Pathophysiology and Clinical Characteristics” program. During this program, Dr. Tassorelli covered the differences between episodic migraine and chronic migraine and how a migraine attack develops in phases.
The different phases of a migraine attack are associated with different brain areas and molecules. Scientists now better understand the mechanism of migraine and more targeted medications have been developed. For example, the prodromal symptoms seem to originate from the activation of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus has some modulating power over the serotonin system in the brainstem at the back of the brain. Triptans work best when they are taken early in a migraine attack because they work on the modulation of this system at the back of the brain. The activation of this system then leads to other mechanisms including the release of CGRP, which the gepants target.
Another spotlight was Dr. Olivia Begasse de Dhaem, IHS-GPAC Executive Committee member and Clinician at Hartford HealthCare. During her “Strategies for Advocacy in Headache: Professional & Patient Perspectives” program, Dr. Begasse de Dhaem discussed what advocacy is, key factors and tips, and the benefits of advocacy.
Advocacy includes several different domains, such as education, research, access to care, legislative issues, direct patient care, and healthcare systems. Dr. Begasse de Dhaem also highlighted a few strategies to promote advocacy, such as social media platforms, building connections with legislators and stakeholders, and education programs like Migraine Fitness at Work (MFAW). Education programs, in particular, canteach employers and coworkers how they can support their colleagues who live with migraine and decrease the stigma surrounding the disease. Advocacy is the key to ensuring better and more equitable health and healthcare for all.
“The perception of advocacy still has to be pushed,” says Dr. Goudier. “With headache and migraine, we’re still lacking access and recognition by the people around the patients, insurance [companies], the government, and even other doctors. The only way to [advocate] is to continue to advocate, continue to educate, and continue to promote these actions.”
Thanks to the experts, specialists and participants, EHHPA was a great success this year. Helping patients get the best access and care for headache and migraine is a long and complicated mission. But the dedication and collaboration that went into this event is what drives this mission forward. Together, we can create a better world for those who live with migraine and other neurological diseases and provide education to all our colleagues.
Watch the final live panel discussion from the planning committee here.
Stay tuned for next year’s EHHPA on Saturday, May 6, 2023 and be sure to watch all of this year’s presentations.