MEDUrare: Supporting integrated care for rare diseases by better connecting health and education through policy

Harleen Saggu, Caleb Jones, Amber Lewis, Gareth Baynam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Rare diseases affect an estimated 6-10% of the Australian population, a prevalence similar to that seen in other regions worldwide. These multi-system conditions are often severely debilitating and affect multiple domains of a person’s life. A salient necessity for effective care provision thus, is holistic care, achieved by appropriate and continual multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration. Synonymous with this priority for collaborative care, is the need for increased partnerships between the health and education sectors. This partnership has the potential to benefit people with rare disease of all educational ages, but in particular, school-aged children and young adults. More than 70% of rare diseases affect children, and this population often experiences difficulties with overall well-being and functioning, including impaired school performance and confounding mental and social comorbidities. Ensuring adequate schooling needs and experiences along with provision of adequate medical care, is crucial in ensuring overall well-being for this population. For this, effective partnerships between the health and education sectors are paramount. This article highlights fundamental elements of health and education priorities, ingrained in current strategic documents, to build a policy foundation that informs and supports increased inter-sectoral partnerships between health and education services. Shared priorities identified in both sectors’ guidelines, co-developed with those with lived experience of rare diseases, build a strong policy base for future advocative initiatives to mold better integration between the sectors, a partnership which is vital to improving the overall quality of life, experiences and journeys of people living with rare disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-702
Number of pages10
JournalYale Journal of Biology and Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


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