National progress in the management of allergies but more work to be done
16 August 2018:
$10 million dollars over five years required to continue important work
In the past two years the National Allergy Strategy has been implemented to support the 1 in 5 Australians affected by allergic disease. This important work has involved engaging with many stakeholder organisations, and has been possible due to funding support from the Australian Government. However, with allergic diseases among the fastest growing chronic conditions in Australia ongoing collaborations are key and funding support of the National Allergy Strategy is critical.
“The statistics regarding allergies in Australia are concerning and require serious attention. One in 10 infants now have a food allergy4 and food allergy induced anaphylaxis has doubled in the last 10 years,” said Associate Professor Richard Loh. “Sadly, there have been many near misses and preventable deaths related to food and drug allergy. Just recently a young girl lost her life due to an allergic reaction to dairy. We need to learn from these tragic events and implement processes to prevent them from occurring again.”
“The National Allergy Strategy was established to address the alarming statistics and improve the quality of life of all Australians living with allergic conditions. We are very thankful for the government support to date and input from many stakeholder groups. This has enabled us to agree on priorities and make significant progress in important areas requiring national attention including food service training and engaging teenagers. It is crucial that we continue this ground-breaking work and we encourage the Australian Government to maintain their commitment. We require $10 million dollars over 5 years to ensure that we continue to progress the National Allergy Strategy implementation.”
Senator Richard Di Natale supports the need for a national response.
“With more than 4 million Australians affected, we must have a coordinated, funded, national strategy and response. The risks are too great to ignore,” Dr Di Natale said. “This is a critically important strategy and it must be supported at the highest levels to make sure no more lives are lost to allergy.”
The National Allergy Strategy food allergen management in food service project has been particularly successful, with over 4500 people completing the free All about Allergens online training course launched in July 2017. This course provides comprehensive information relevant to the food service industry that is fast, simple and importantly, free. https://foodallergytraining.com.au
“The All about Allergens online training is being accessed and completed by food service staff across Australia. This is critical to ensure staff are equipped to respond to customers who disclose a food allergy and to manage their orders appropriately. The aim is for people with food allergy to have an improved quality of life and do the simple things most people take for granted, with reduced risk. The course also educates users on the symptoms of a food allergic reaction and what to do if a customer experiences a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). The next step is improving food allergen management in food service across the community including hospitals and early childhood education and care,” commented Maria Said, CEO of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia.
The National Allergy Strategy 250K youth website has also been a landmark development. The suite of online resources - ‘250K – A hub for the 250,000 young Australians living with severe allergies’ - aims to provide age-appropriate information and resources to assist young people who are living with severe allergies. This project aims to help them feel more connected with other teens or young adults with similar experiences, in a fun but informative way. https://250k.org.au
“Teens and young adults are at the highest risk of fatal, food-triggered anaphylactic reactions5 out of any age group. For the first time, we have been able to begin engagement with young people living with severe allergy, particularly life-threatening food allergy”, stated Ms Said. “We are excited that additional Australian Government funding for this project will allow us to establish a youth chat forum, conduct a youth camp and start a mentor program.”
Aged Care Minister and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM said he was proud of the Turnbull Government’s $2m contribution to initiatives covered by the National Allergy Strategy.
“This includes promoting the uptake of feeding and allergy prevention guidelines for infants, developing a standardised allergy content for food hygiene and improving allergy management for teens and young adults,” said Minister Wyatt.
“I commend the tireless work of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia. The passion and dedication of this organisation to saving and improving lives is outstanding.
“From our youngest children to older people receiving aged care, we must continue working together to protect vulnerable Australians from the dangers and distress of allergic reactions.”
While there have been many achievements over a short period of time, there are still many more gaps in care that need to be addressed. This includes improving drug allergy management in aged care and the wider community and improving emergency treatment of anaphylaxis Australia wide.
“As a national initiative with the best interest of the patient at the centre of everything we do, the National Allergy Strategy is able to progress urgent work to improve management of allergic disease. This work aims to significantly improve the quality of life of Australians living with allergic conditions and their carers, and better support health professionals, camp providers, food service staff, schools and others who are part of their circle of care. The next step is for the National Allergy Strategy to receive ongoing funding to allow this important work to continue” concluded A/Prof Loh.
Led by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), as the leading medical and patient organisations for allergy in Australia, the National Allergy Strategy aims to address public health issues relating to the rapid and continuing rise of allergy in Australia and improve the health and quality of life of people with allergic diseases, their families and carers, and the community
- Allergic diseases are among the fastest growing chronic conditions in Australia, affecting approximately 1 in 5 Australians1.
- Hospital admissions for anaphylaxis (severe, life threatening allergic reactions) have increased 5-fold in the last 20 years2.
- Deaths from anaphylaxis have increased by 7% per year for the last 7 years3
- Food allergy induced anaphylaxis has doubled in the last 10 years. One in 10 infants now have a food allergy4.
- Introducing peanut between 4-11 months of age can reduce peanut allergy in high risk infants by 80%5.
- Up to 1 in 10 adults with suspected but unconfirmed drug allergy are often unnecessarily treated with more expensive drugs6.
- Although 5% of adults may be allergic to one or more drugs, up to 15% believe that they have drug allergy, and therefore are frequently unnecessarily denied treatment with an indicated drug6.
- Delayed access to medical care and long waiting times for management of allergic diseases in all areas (rural, remote and metropolitan) is a major problem, due to the high number of diagnosed patients, newly diagnosed patients and low number of appropriately trained health care professionals1.
- A US study reported that childhood food allergy results in significant direct medical costs for the healthcare system and even larger costs for families with a food-allergic child7.
Further information is available at: www.nationalallergystrategy.org.au
Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)
The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) was established in 1990 as a not for profit, peak professional medical organisation for allergy and clinical immunology in Australia and New Zealand. ASCIA members include clinical immunology/allergy specialists, other medical practitioners, scientists and allied health professionals who work in the areas of allergy and immunology.
The mission of ASCIA is to advance the science and practice of allergy and clinical immunology, by promoting the highest standard of medical practice, education and research, to improve the health and quality of life of people with allergic diseases, immunodeficiencies and other immune diseases.
For further information go to: www.allergy.org.au
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA)
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA) was established in 1993 as a charitable, not for profit organisation, to improve awareness of allergy and anaphylaxis in the Australian community, by sharing current information, education, advocacy, research, guidance and support.
A&AA is primarily a volunteer based organisation that is supported by Department of Health and Ageing funding, sale of resources, sponsorship and donations. Their outreach extends to individuals, families, school, workplaces, health professionals, government, food industry and all Australians.
A&AA is part of an international alliance of similar organisations and works closely with peak medical bodies, including ASCIA. Their medical advisory board comprises ASCIA members who are specialist immunology and allergy physicians from across Australia.
For further information go to: www.allergyfacts.org.au
- Mullins RJ, et al. The economic impact of allergic disease in Australia: not to be sneezed at. ASCIA/Access Economics Report, November 2007. allergy.org.au/content/view/324/76/
- Mullins RJ, Dear KBG, Tang ML. Time trends in Australian hospital anaphylaxis admissions 1998/9 to 2011/12. J Allergy Clin Immunol; 2015.
- Mullins RJ, Wainstein BK, Barnes EH, Liew WK, Campbell DE. Increases in anaphylaxis fatalities in Australia from 1997 to 2013. Clin Exp Allergy. 2016 Aug;46(8):1099-110. doi: 10.1111/cea.12748. Epub 2016 May 31.
- Osborne NJ, Koplin JJ, Martin PE, Gurrin LC, Lowe AJ, Matheson MC, Ponsonby AL, Wake M, Tang ML, Dharmage SC, Allen KJ; HealthNuts Investigators. Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy using population-based sampling and predetermined challenge criteria in infants. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Mar; 127 (3):668-76.
- Du Toit G et al. Randomized trial of peanut consumption in infants at risk for peanut allergy. N Engl J Med. 2015 Feb 26;372(9):803-13.
- De Swarte R. Drug allergy – problems and strategies. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1984; 74: 209-221.
- Gupta R, Holdford D, Bilaver L, Dyer A, Holl JL, Meltzer D. The Economic Impact of Childhood Food Allergy in the United States. JAMA Pediatrics. 2013; 167 (11): 1026-31.