Rethinking headache as a global public health case model for reaching the SDG 3 HEALTH by 2030

Paolo Martelletti, Matilde Leonardi, Messoud Ashina, Rami Burstein, Soo Jin Cho, Augustina Charway-Felli, David W. Dodick, Raquel Gil-Gouveia, Licia Grazzi, Christian Lampl, Antoinette MaassenVanDenBrink, Mia T. Minen, Dimos Dimitrios Mitsikostas, Jes Olesen, Mayowa Ojo Owolabi, Uwe Reuter, Elena Ruiz de la Torre, Simona Sacco, Todd J. Schwedt, Gianluca SerafiniNirmal Surya, Cristina Tassorelli, Shuu Jiun Wang, Yonggang Wang, Tissa Wijeratne, Alberto Raggi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets out, through 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a path for the prosperity of people and the planet. SDG 3 in particular aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages and includes several targets to enhance health. This review presents a “headache-tailored” perspective on how to achieve SDG 3 by focusing on six specific actions: targeting chronic headaches; reducing the overuse of acute pain-relieving medications; promoting the education of healthcare professionals; granting access to medication in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC); implementing training and educational opportunities for healthcare professionals in low and middle income countries; building a global alliance against headache disorders. Addressing the burden of headache disorders directly impacts on populations’ health, as well as on the possibility to improve the productivity of people aged below 50, women in particular. Our analysis pointed out several elements, and included: moving forward from frequency-based parameters to define headache severity; recognizing and managing comorbid diseases and risk factors; implementing a disease management multi-modal management model that incorporates pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments; early recognizing and managing the overuse of acute pain-relieving medications; promoting undergraduate, postgraduate, and continuing medical education of healthcare professionals with specific training on headache; and promoting a culture that favors the recognition of headaches as diseases with a neurobiological basis, where this is not yet recognized. Making headache care more sustainable is an achievable objective, which will require multi-stakeholder collaborations across all sectors of society, both health-related and not health-related. Robust investments will be needed; however, considering the high prevalence of headache disorders and the associated disability, these investments will surely improve multiple health outcomes and lift development and well-being globally.

Original languageEnglish
Article number140
JournalJournal of Headache and Pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Global burden of disease study
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Medication overuse headache
  • Migraine
  • Sustainable development goals
  • Tension-type headache


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