Wednesday March 30, 2022  

Allergy experts have applauded the $26.9 million investment into allergy prevention and management announced in the Federal Government’s 2022 pre-election budget. 

The funding will lead to the creation of two vital organisations, the National Allergy Council and National Allergy Centre of Excellence (NACE), that will work together to deliver world-leading initiatives and research to improve consumer safety and prevent anaphylaxis deaths. 

“Australia has been termed the ‘allergy capital of the world’ with more than 5 million Australians living with allergic disease. Allergy diagnoses and hospital admissions for life-threatening allergic reactions continue to rise,” Maria Said, Co-Chair of the National Allergy Strategy and CEO of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia said. 

“This funding will revolutionise Australian allergy research, clinical care, education, and prevention, solidifying us as a world leader in this space. Ultimately, we need to reduce the alarming trend of anaphylaxis rates and tragic deaths, prevent development of allergic disease, and more effectively manage allergies that affect 20 per cent of the community.” 

Allergic diseases include food, medication and insect allergies, and allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis. Eczema is also associated with allergic disease. The funding is in response to the 2019 Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis and the 24 recommendations in the Walking the allergy tightrope report, which highlighted the critical need for further investment to address this continuing public health challenge. 

Establishing a National Allergy Council (NAC) is a natural progression of the highly valued and successful National Allergy Strategy. The National Allergy Council will continue to be a partnership between the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), the leading medical and patient support organisations for allergy in Australia. 

The Centre for Food & Allergy Research (CFAR) will expand to become the National Allergy Centre of Excellence (NACE). NACE will generate and synthesise the evidence base that underpins the activities of the proposed National Allergy Council (NAC), to ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of evidence-based management of allergic disease. 

Working together, these organisations will deliver: 

• A shared care program to significantly cut wait times to see a specialist by at least 50 per cent and improve access to quality allergy care for all Australians, especially in rural and remote areas 

• The digital infrastructure for a National Allergy Registry and Biobank to facilitate precision medicine, allowing individualised allergy healthcare for children and adults. This would include a live anaphylaxis reporting system 

• A world-first National Allergy Clinical Trials Network to provide Australians with accelerated access to safe and effective allergy treatments. 

• Continued public health guidelines and prevention programs such as the successful ‘Nip allergies in the Bub’ program, which includes practical resources for parents and educational resources to support healthcare providers. 

New clinical and research capabilities to enable Australia to maintain its world-leading status in allergy research and to answer the most important questions in allergy that will guide the way forward. 

Associate Professor Kirsten Perrett, Acting Director of the Centre for Food & Allergy Research and Co-Group Leader of Population Allergy at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) said, “The establishment of the National Allergy Centre of Excellence will be a huge leap forward for our understanding of allergies, especially in an Australian context, and will provide a solid evidence-base for initiatives of the National Allergy Council. Together, we will implement the first national allergy registry alongside a live anaphylaxis reporting system, which will facilitate precision medicine and improve consumer safety and prevent anaphylaxis deaths.” 

Dr Preeti Joshi, ASCIA Co-chair of the National Allergy Strategy and representative of the peak clinical body, the Australasian society of clinical immunology and allergy (ASCIA) said the funding would allow urgent projects to progress. 

“Over the past seven years, the National Allergy Strategy has engaged with key stakeholders to implement urgent projects with support from the Australian Government Department of Health. However, many projects have not been progressed because of the need for significant funding support. This includes a shared care program, which is essentially a patient centred approach to care that uses the skills and knowledge of a range of health care professionals who share joint responsibility with the patient, ensuring the patient receives the right care, at the right time, from the right health professionals, in the right place. We also urgently need an anaphylaxis registry that will ultimately help us save lives. These projects have the potential to make the biggest impact on the lives of people living with allergic diseases.” 

“Today, we are thankful that the Australian Government has given their support for these critical initiatives, The National Allergy Strategy, ASCIA, A&AA and the Centre for Food & Allergy Research (CFAR) would like to thank the Australian Government, and Minister Hunt in particular, for investing in the health and wellbeing of the many Australians living with allergic diseases. We would also like to acknowledge the leadership of the Hon Trent Zimmerman and the committee who led the Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis. We are also grateful to Dr Katie Allen, Member for Higgins, for her ongoing advocacy and support. This funding investment will ensure that there will be greater and equal access to quality care, particularly in rural, regional and remote areas,” finished Dr Joshi.