Thursday, 9th October 2014
Speaking at the opening of the International Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Meeting at Convention Centre Dublin I called for a detailed national policy on anaphylaxis and for a review of regulations which control access to treatment in emergency situations.
Severe allergic reactions can have devastating consequences and immediate access to medication can be a lifesaving intervention. Each year around 2% of the population experience anaphylaxis and require different levels of treatment. To make sure all people affected receive the appropriate access to care we should develop a detailed policy to deal with anaphylaxis. We should also review regulations so that improved access to medication is available in emergency situations.
Data from Ireland’s first birth cohort study demonstrated that 3% of one year olds have proven food allergies. Estimates indicate that about 20,000 of Irish children have a peanut allergy. Given this rate of incidence and the potential drastic consequences, there should be a detailed policy in place to deal with this issue. I have asked the newly appointed Minster for Health, Leo Varadkar, and the Health Service Executive, to prioritise the development of strategy for allergy care in Ireland.
As well as developing a comprehensive policy approach we should also change how we provide access to adrenaline auto-injectors in emergency situations. UCC is leading efforts to develop a first-responder anaphylaxis model but regulations are preventing the roll-out of this scheme.
The Department of Health has said it will review the regulations that provide only limited access to adrenaline auto-injectors in emergency situations. However, despite efforts to have this progressed I do not believe it has been given the priority that it warrants. I have asked the Minister and the new Secretary General to ensure that this review takes place as soon as possible.
By changing the regulations we can provide a first-responder system for the treatment of anaphylaxis in emergency situations. This along with a comprehensive policy for anaphylaxis can improve the level of service and treatment provided to all those affected.