Since starting a virtual practice focused on migraine management just over two years ago, pharmacist Heba Bani has helped more than 300 people living with migraine in Ontario and trained numerous pharmacists to manage the condition in their own practices in Canada and abroad. But she says there is much more to do to empower pharmacists to fill the gaps in migraine care.
While migraine affects one in every five households in Canada, she says the condition is often dismissed, underdiagnosed and undermanaged. In most provinces, the wait time is often 18 months to see headache specialists.
Bani is putting her Wellspring Leadership grant towards a Masters in headache disorders from the University of Copenhagen. She is the first-ever pharmacist accepted into the program. She says she will use her learnings to further train pharmacists and pharmacy students on migraine and other headache disorders, treatment options and non-pharmacologic counselling in primary healthcare settings.
“Advanced education is the first step needed to integrate pharmacists into the care of people
living with migraine and other headache disorders,” she says. “By undertaking this endeavor, I am confident in acquiring transferrable skills…and will build the credibility of pharmacists within the headache specialists’ community and other primary healthcare providers,” she says.
On top of that, Bani is also collaborating with the World Health Organization to identify medications used to treat headaches and migraine around the world and generate data that can help decision-makers assess medication use and the potential to leverage pharmacists as an underutilized resource in the management of medication overuse headache—a major contributor to chronic headaches.
“I aim to bridge the existing gaps in care and empower pharmacists with knowledge [to] inspire them—and advocate for both pharmacists and patients to best address the care gaps that exist,” says Bani.