Member News

EFA activities in asthma presented in Tuscany, Italy

Last year in Helsinki EFA hosted training for patient representatives coming from 3 different European countries, to give an overview of the current Finnish Allergy Programme.

The Italian member organization of EFA was inspired by the Finnish Asthma Programme, which was a 10 year programme prior the current Finnish Allergy Programme, that they decided to apply some of the knowledge gained during the training in Helsinki in the area test in Tuscany.

The first outcome of these efforts was the participation of Giorgio Salerni of the FEDERASMA at the conference “Severe asthma – Integration between Institutions and Clinicians searching adequate and appropriate paths to realize a common course”. This event was organized by Tuscany Region Healthcare Center on 12 December 2013 in Villa La Quiete. The presentation given by Giorgio Salerni included short video by Erkka Valovirta, EFA Medical Advisor, in which he presented the above mentioned programmes. Giorgio Salerni presented latest EFA activities in the field of asthma in patients in Europe.

The morning session which focused on severe asthma, three working group meetings took place and the discussion of the participants and lessons learned will be included in the further developments.


Allergy UK Informs on soya milk products

As of December 2014, Alpro, producers of soya milk products, are planning to produce their almond and hazelnut products at the same sites as their soya milk products.

Although this change will not take effect until next year, Alpro have already started to adapt the packaging of these products to include a precautionary “may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts” warning to ensure that all consumers are aware of the change in production before it is implemented.

Alpro are keen to ensure the most stringent safety procedures are followed, and have assured that all possible measures will be put in place to avoid any cross-contamination between nut and soya products (this includes maintaining separate flows for handling raw materials and manufacturing, full “cleaning in place” procedures, and independent batch tests in external labs that ensure samples are taken and tested for nut allergen residues).

Allergy UK would advise anyone who has a milk and nut allergy to speak to their doctor or allergy specialist if they are concerned about changing to another type of soya or non-dairy milk. See Allergy UK milk allergy factsheet for more information and discovering other food sources of calcium. EFA has been working on this topic and the Food Allergy Working Group members are concerned about the possible negative consequences Alpro’s decision may have on people with nuts allergy. A paper on this topic will be released soon.


Peer Asthma E-learning Programme supports teenagers with asthma

Asthma E-learning Programme supports teenagers, helping them to achieve better symptom control with a view to reducing unscheduled GP visits and hospital admissions

  • More than 3,000 admissions per year to hospitals for asthma treatment, with over half under 14 years in age
  • Inadequate management of asthma symptoms is the cause of unnecessary morbidity for children and young people and places an unnecessary burden on the health service
  • Estimated cost for to the Irish health system for the treatment of asthma in children younger than 15 is €56 million annually
  • Average cost for a hospital admission for asthma is €3,508 per visit
  • Irish children lose on average 10 days of school per annum due to their asthma
  • Asthma is the most common chronic disease for children in Ireland, affecting 20% of Irish children

Commissioned by the Asthma Society of Ireland and supported by Dyson, a new programme has been successfully piloted that will potentially affect the lives of young people with asthma. The project emanated from a PhD conducted in University College Cork on asthma in young people that highlighted the need for a teen-focused approach to supporting young people who have asthma in their everyday lives.

Young people reported that they are less likely to manage their asthma well in the out-of-home environment because their friends don’t understand the condition and it’s management. This results in teenagers hiding their symptoms or taking risks when they feel unwell in order to avoid unwanted attention.

They also reported that they do not trust on-line health information as it is unreliable and they do not know where to get credible, accurate on-line health information aimed at their needs.

In response to these findings, the Asthma Society of Ireland worked with researcher Mary Hughes on developing an innovative on-line programme for secondary school students.  Unlike traditional educational programmes for young people who have asthma, this programme is aimed at increasing the awareness of the general student population in order to support those among them who have asthma.

It is envisaged that this programme will empower young people in this age group in improving their asthma management and potentially reduce the overall GP visits and hospital admissions as a result of the condition. The programme has a focus on issues that are highlighted as being particularly relevant by those who participated in the doctoral research, in addition to some fundamental issues of symptom management.

To read more please click here


Plain Packaging in Ireland and EFA’s submission

As we informed you in the last edition of our newsletter, the Asthma Society of Ireland worked hard on the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill that would introduce plain packaging in Ireland.

On January, 23rd a group of people who suffered from smoking-related lung and heart diseases, including EFA President Breda Flood, publicly urged the government to enact “crucial” plain packaging of tobacco products legislation as quickly as possible.

Speaking in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin before the start of public hearings at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children on the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill, the group said the legislation was vital to protect a new generation of children and young people from the pain, suffering and premature death caused by smoking.

The event was organised by a coalition of health and children’s charities, including the ISPCC, Barnardos, the Children’s Rights Alliance, the Irish Asthma Society, the Irish Thoracic Society, COPD Ireland, ASH Ireland, the Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Heart Foundation. They have come together to support Government efforts to protect children’s health by removing all branding and inserting large graphic warnings on cigarette packs and other tobacco products.

More about the event in Dublin is to be found here.

EFA has made a submission on this document, supporting Asthma Society of Ireland’s document and underlining the necessity for plain packaging in Ireland. Indeed, Ireland’s proposal may start a chain reaction throughout the EU and this will help the health of EU citizens in general and of people with allergy, asthma and COPD in particular. EFA Submission on the Irish Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2013 is available here.

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