• As part of National Brain Awareness Week, Deputy Maria Bailey to lead briefing on the prevalence and debilitating effects of migraine in Ireland
  • The cost of migraine to the Irish economy is €252 million a year1
  • “There are significant numbers of patients going underdiagnosed and undertreated” – Dr Martin Ruttledge, Consultant Neurologist in Beaumont
  • National Clinical Programme for Neurology has not advanced since 2016

Today (12 March), on the second day of National Brain Awareness Week, legislators will have the opportunity to hear real-life stories about the debilitating effects that migraine has on the day-to-day life of tens of thousands of people in Ireland.

To mark Brain Awareness Week (11-17 March 2019), a special information event for Oireachtas members hosted by Dun Laoghaire TD, Maria Bailey, and supported by the Migraine Association of Ireland and Teva Pharmaceutical Ireland, will take place in Leinster House.

The event will bring together legislators, healthcare experts, patients and their representatives to examine how our healthcare service can respond better to the needs of migraine sufferers.

This will include a focus on patient access to emerging treatments, used to treat migraine, and the implementation of the HSE’s National Clinical Programme for Neurology, which was launched in 2016.

Migraine stats

There are more than a billion people on the planet with migraine and between 600,000 and 700,000 sufferers in Ireland2. On any given day in Ireland over 13,000 people are suffering from migraine – the majority forming part of the workforce3.

Migraine is estimated to cost the Irish economy €252 million a year1.


Speaking about the event, Deputy Bailey said: “With so many Irish people impacted by migraine, I felt it was really important to increase awareness of the condition among my colleagues. While Leinster House is filled with politicians who can directly influence policy in terms of improving healthcare services, it is also a workplace where many politicians and staff are likely affected by migraine.

“Migraine can be a really debilitating condition, and even doing basic tasks like speaking can be a struggle when an attack is at its peak. Today’s event is about learning more about the condition and improving our knowledge, but also to get the message out that by staying on top of your condition, knowing the triggers and doing the basics right in terms of sleep, diet and exercise, supported by medicines if required, it is possible to better manage your migraine.”

Pat Little, CEO of the Migraine Association of Ireland (MAI), said:

“With an estimated 600-700,000 Irish people living with migraine, it’s clear that the condition is one that impacts a huge number of individuals directly, but also indirectly their families, friends and communities. To this end, ensuring that we have in place the correct supports and healthcare services to help those living with the condition better manage its effects is essential.

“In 2016, the HSE published its first National Clinical Programme for Neurology which was to provide a roadmap for services in Ireland. Almost three years on, the progress towards its implementation has been slow. Our ask of policymakers today is to support the accelerated roll-out of this programme, particularly the recruitment of neurologists and specialist nurses to reduce waiting times, and in improving access to lifeenhancing next-generation medicines.”

Martin Ruttledge, Consultant Neurologist at Beaumont Hospital, said:

“Migraine is a very common and often debilitating neurological disorder that is underdiagnosed/undertreated by doctors and healthcare professionals worldwide. This is particularly the case in Ireland where there are insufficient resources to look after migraine patients. We need more doctors, specialist nurses, other healthcare professionals and headache services to care for this growing patient population. For example, the National Clinical Programme for Neurology ecommends that there should be a total of 32 specialist headache nurses in Ireland. There are currently the equivalent of approximately three posts.”

Clodagh Kevans, Associate Director at Teva Pharmaceuticals, said:

“For people living with migraine, diagnosis and treatments are improving. Increasingly there is a greater understanding of the biology of the condition, and this is driving the development of new and emerging treatments that help prevent migraine. “

1. https://www.migraine.ie/migraine-in-the-workplace (as of March 2019)
2. Migraine: Diagnosis and Management from a GP Perspective 10 December 2018 Authors: Dr Mary Kearney
Dr Martin Ruttledge Ms Esther Tomkins. Page 6
3. https://www.migraine.ie/migraine-in-the-workplace (as of March 2019)


For further information contact:
Amanda Glancy, PR360, 01 6371777/087 2273108 amanda@pr360.ie
IE/GOV/19/0001c Date of preparation: February 2019