The Weekly Rundown: 22-27 July 2018

Welcome to our very first post for #theweeklyrundown where we give you this week's summary of relevant news covering endometriosis and gynaecological health.

Each week, we aim to keep you up-to-date on different trends, breakthroughs and events about women's gynaecological health and wellness global issues.

Comment below with a link to share any important news that we missed!

The Wiggles' Emma Watson speaks about her experiences with endometriosis and her support of Australia's National Action Plan for Endometriosis ©  The Project Australia,  2018

The Wiggles' Emma Watson speaks about her experiences with endometriosis and her support of Australia's National Action Plan for Endometriosis © The Project Australia, 2018

1. Australian Health Minister Announces Country-Wide Endometriosis Action Plan

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt launched a National Action Plan for Endometriosis on Thursday, seeking to reduce the delay in diagnosis, boost public awareness and educate doctors, teachers and employers on how the disease affects more than 700,000 Australian girls and women.

The government will add $1 million - on top of the $3.5 million already committed - to ensure the plan's effectiveness.

More than $2.5 million will go toward creating the National Endometriosis Clinical and Scientific Trials Network. This network will allow patients, for the first time, to participate in research that aims to find better diagnostic options and treatments.

2. Sanitary Napkins Now Exempt From GST After Year-Long Opposition in India

On Saturday, the Indian government eliminated a controversial 12 percent goods and service tax (GST) on sanitary pads, which was originally introduced in July 2017.

Activists say that this move helps to tackle the common barrier school-aged girls face in the country: the stigma surrounding menstruation and also limited access to toilets.

Periods are one of the leading factors for girls to drop out of school. Four out of five women and girls are estimated by campaigners to have no access to sanitary pads.

3. French Startup Endodiag Announces Development of Non-invasive Diagnostic Tests for Endometriosis

French startup Endodiag is developing an endometriosis diagnostics test that aims to shorten wait times and avoid invasive surgery typically performed through a laparoscopy, it announced this week.

Their new early testing methods involve testing blood and endometrium samples through nonsurgical extraction.

"We’ve been convinced since the beginning, and we still are, that being able to provide a non-invasive method of diagnosis much earlier is going to have an extremely significant impact on the treatment and quality of life of patients," Endodiag CEO Cécile Réal said.

4. New Technique Keeps Baby Dreams Alive for Women With Fibroids

A New Jersey doctor devised a new approach to uterine embolization - the closing off of blood vessels that feed tumors - for a patient with fibroids, shrinking her tumor by 92 percent within three months.

In the past, uterine embolization hasn’t worked on cervical fibroids. However, Dr. John DeMeritt, Interventional Radiology and attending physician at Hackensack University Medical Center, inserted a catheter in his patient's leg, which worked to deliver tiny particles as close as possible to her fibroid.

Within six months, the patient, MaryBeth, became pregnant, despite originally facing a potential hysterectomy.

5. FDA approves endometriosis treatment

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new treatment option for women with endometriosis on Tuesday.

Orilissa, which is taken as a daily pill, works by altering hormone levels in women with endometriosis to reduce the pain associated with the conditions.

"It's a drug that suppresses estrogen gently," Dr. Sanjay Agarwal, a professor and Director of Fertility Services in the UC San Diego Department of Reproductive Medicine, who was an investigator on the Orilissa trial said. "The goal is to reduce the pain of endometriosis without creating excessive problems from low estrogen levels."