16 March 2015
- Healthcare

Allergology is not recognised as a medical specialisation in most European countries and respiratory allergies are often treated at primary care services. However, primary care physicians usually have limited knowledge in allergy issues resulting in low service quality: patients often receive a late diagnosis and are not always given appropriate and up-to-date treatment.

After identifying low public awareness of allergies as serious chronic diseases, EFA is committed in raising awareness on respiratory allergies; increase the ability to identify early symptoms and to provide early diagnosis.

Through the EFA Allergy Awareness project, we have published the book on Respiratory Allergy, a first comprehensive study by patients reporting on diagnosis, quality and accessibility of best practices of care and prevention of respiratory allergy across Europe. The book includes actions to support raising awareness for the respiratory allergy epidemic in Europe.

EFA’s Call to Action is the result of a 2011 survey on the situation of respiratory allergies in Europe. With responses from 18 European countries, the Call to Action proposes a plan to improve accurate and early diagnosis and to promote training in allergy for all healthcare professionals. It has received support from more than 1,000 people from all over Europe.

We encourage patients, policymakers, medical practitioners, scientists and any other stakeholders with an interest in reducing the prevalence of respiratory allergies in Europe to sign the Call to Action!

Pilot allergy awareness projects at national level

Nurses and pharmacists have the potential to play an important role in allergy care, particularly in promoting early diagnosis since these groups are often the entry point for people who are at risk of allergy.

In 2013, EFA member Österreichische Lungen-Union launched the Allergy Risk Check, an Austrian pilot project for pharmacists. Pharmacies are often considered to be a ‘first line of defense’ for allergy patients seeking treatment. To improve information given in pharmacies they distributed in all pharmacies across Vienna ARIA guidelines boxes, questionnaires for allergy patients, guidance for patient interaction and other materials. In 2014, the project was scaled across Austria.

The outcomes of this project were reflected in a scientific paper “Pharmacists can help to detect undiagnosed moderate-severe respiratory allergy. An EFA pilot study in Vienna, Austria”. The abstract was presented at the EAACI annual conference and inclusion of the paper in the Global Atlas of Allergy (page 352) – June 2014.

Our Italian member Federasma e Allergie also put into practice the Austrian example and launched the Allergy Risk Check in Genoa in 2014. The data collected from Genoa will be compared with Vienna data to measure the overall impact of the pilot projects.

Efforts to create national allergy programmes

The best practice example to date in tackling allergies without any doubt: the Finnish Allergy Programme. To cascade the advantages of this programme, EFA have organised a series of meetings between the Finnish Allergy Programme leaders and some of our members. The final goal is to enable national allergy patientorganisations to promote the creation of national programmes back home, with guidance from the Finnish Allergy Programme.

In 2012, EFA organised a meeting in Helsinki were EFA member delegations from Bulgaria (ABBA), Italy-Tuscany (FEDERASMA) and Norway (NAAF) met with leaders of the Finnish Allergy Programme to understand how to run a national allergy programme.

Since then, several EFA members in Bulgaria, Italy and Norway are mobilizing the public health community at national level to adopt and establish national allergy programmes for the coming years.

Patient led publications and allergy advocacy tools

EFA’s Book on Respiratory Allergies is a tool in identifying the main issues experienced by patients with respiratory allergies in different countriesand to learn about positive experiences i.e., the Finnish Asthma and Allergy Programmes. The book was launched at the European Parliament and presented during the 2011 EAACI Symposium.

EFA’s Allergy Alert! Paper showcases EFA, it asks to improve the allergy medical profession and requests one single model of education, pre- and postgraduate for medical students. The paper is endorsed by UEMS, ARIA, EAACI and IPCRG. The paper was presented to the European Commission and the ENVI Committee in 2013.In 2014 several EFA Members presented it to national Ministers of Health and Education.

If you speak German, you might be interested in an article discussing the under-diagnosis of respiratory allergies. It mentions the pan-European survey released by EFA on the burden of respiratory allergies featuring quotes from Austrian patients.

Dear Visitor,

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Stay safe!
The EFA Team