EFA symposium on the Call to Action on respiratory allergies

On June 2013 EFA, in collaboration with EAACI and WAO, organised a symposium on its Call to Action on respiratory allergies. The event named "Patients with respiratory allergies Call to Action: Raise Awareness, Relieve the Burden" was part of the EAACI-WAO World Allergy and Asthma Congress 2013 held in June in Milan, and brought together speakers from EFA, EAACI, PGEU, ARIA and the European Commission. EFA's Vice-president Christine Rolland introduced EFA's Respiratory Allergy Awareness project and the Call to Action on respiratory Allergies. As Rolland highlighted, there are 113 million people suffering from allergic rhinitis and 68 million from allergic asthma in the EU. This number is on the rise as by 2015 more than half the citizens in Europe are likely to have chronic allergic symptoms.

Despite this alarming fact, there are not enough specialists in most of the EU countries and PCPs are not trained enough to deliver early and precise diagnose. EFA is therefore working on raising awareness of allergies as serious and chronic diseases, ability to identify early symptoms and early diagnosis and develop and promote Allergology education across Europe. With the Call to Action, EFA calls on policy makers to increase political recognition of respiratory allergies, promote national programmes on respiratory allergies, prioritize their management and control, promote training in allergy and work on improved air quality.

Bearing this in mind, EFA together with EAACI, UEMSandARIA prepared an Allergy Alert Paper requesting action from the European Commission in order to ensure healthcare professionals have training in Allergology. Nikolaos Papadopoulos, president of EAACI, presented on “Harmonisation of training in Allergology for healthcare professionals”. According to him, all general and specialist physicians should be trained in allergy; patients should receive safe and adequate allergy diagnostic testing and optimal preventive advice and treatments. The issue is of a major importance since it's negatively influencing the quality of life of an increasing number of people. For instance, severe allergic rhinitis negatively impacts school performance in children and missed days of work for adults, who take sick or disability leave. Moreover, lack of recognition of the severity of the allergy epidemic implies heavy costs for society and healthcare systems in Europe. Maximin Liebl (PGEU) and Jean Bousquet (ARIA) then presented on the role of pharmacist and dialogue between patients, healthcare professionals and policy makers.

Assuming that Pharmacist ate the very first healthcare professionals seeing person at risk of respiratory allergies, they can play a major role in early diagnosis of allergy. EFA Pilot Project with Austrian Pharmacists thus aims at demonstrating the role of pharmacists in identification of customers suffering from respiratory allergies. 315 pharmacies in Vienna received Green “Allergy Risk Check” boxes and were asked to use the validated Allergy Screening Test ASF Questionnaire to identify the risk of customers of an allergy. 2259 people took part in the project, 64,5% had no current allergy test. Out of these 64,5% more than 3/4 were at risk to have an allergy. Pharmacist recommended nearly half of the participants to meet a physician for proper diagnosis. It was thus demonstrated that pharmacists can act as a driving force to motivate people at risk to meet a physician to receive an early and proper diagnosis.

As a follow up on the joint Allergy Alert Paper EFA handed over to the European Commission and members of the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament in May 2013, Michael Hübel from DG SANCO presented Commission's position as regards EC's activities on the topic of respiratory allergies. Hübel pointed out that Allergology education is in a competence of EU Member States. However, there are European framework programmes that contribute for mobility of healthcare professionals, health workforce in the EU and chronic diseases. The EU plans on reflection on chronic diseases management in December, and he urged all to link up to that.

At the congress more than 350 additional signatures were collected for the EFA Call to Action and sincerely thanks to everyone who signed. Help us to relieve the burden of respiratory allergies on European societies by signing the Call to Action as well today!  

EAACI-WAO Congress in Milan - Allergy: A Global Health Challenge

In June EFA representatives took part in the annual EAACI-WAO Congress in Milan devoted to allergy. The five-day event brought together healthcare professionals, researchers, industry, policy makers and patients' representatives to learn about new researches in the field of Allergology. It was also an opportunity to share and exchange experience, discuss the most pressing issues and learn about the scientific progress. EFA also hosted a joint stand with the other members of the EAACI Patient Organisation Committee. At the congress, several different types of sessions were held - from postgraduate courses and workshops to meet the expert sessions to nurses’ programmes. For instance, one of the symposiums focused on primary care aimed at primary care physicians or allergists and is a state-of-the-art review course covering the most important topics in allergy and it was co-chaired by EFA President. There was also a special session devoted to Allergy nurses covering practical aspects of nurses' work from around the world.

Since the Congress was organised in Italy, Italian National Programme was presented as well. The session showcased top Italian scientists in the allergy and clinical immunology field who presented insights about their research with specific highlights to the Italian reality. There was also a special Patient Organisation Workshop dedicated to food allergies and co-chaired by EFA President. Several EFA members attended and we will have special report on this in the next ezine. In Milan EFA organised a joint symposium together with EAACI on the Call to Action on respiratory allergies and attended several meetings More information here.