Stakeholders have called for more work to be done to manage allergies, saying $10 million is required over the next five years

An event held at Parliament House, attended by Health Minister Greg Hunt, Greens leader Richard Di Natale, Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt, and Shadow Health Minister Catherine KIng updated the national progress in the management of allergies.

Co-Chair of the National Allergy Strategy Steering Committee and paediatric clinical immunology/allergy specialist Associate Professor Richard Loh said that the statistics around allergies in Australia are a significant concern and require serious attention.

“One in 10 infants now have a food allergy and food allergy induced anaphylaxis has doubled in the last 10 years,” said A/Prof 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.”

He highlighted that 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 five years to ensure that we continue to progress the National Allergy Strategy implementation.”

He said that the National Allergy Strategy food allergen management in foodservice project has been particularly successful.

More than 4500 people have completed the free All about Allergens online training course launched in July 2017.

“The All about Allergens online training is being accessed and completed by food service staff across Australia,” said Maria Said, CEO of Allergy & Anaphylaxis 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),” she said.

“The next step is improving food allergen management in food service across the community including hospitals and early childhood education and care.”

The National Allergy Strategy 250K youth website, which aims to provide age-appropriate information and resources to assist young people who are living with severe allergies, has also been a landmark development, she said.

“Teens and young adults are at the highest risk of fatal, food-triggered anaphylactic reactions 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.

“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.”

The stakeholders said that 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.

These include 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,” said A/Prof Loh.

“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.”