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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Update to National Allergy Strategy

The National Allergy Strategy will be launching best practice guidelines for the prevention and management of anaphylaxis in schools and children’s education and care, including out of school hours care.

Hospital admissions for anaphylaxis have increased 5-fold between 1993 and 2013, while deaths from anaphylaxis in Australia have increased by 7% per year.

A review of school policies and guidelines across Australian states and territories showed inconsistencies in anaphylaxis prevention and emergency treatment, particularly around the amount and frequency of staff training and incident reporting. 

These variations create confusion and anxiety for parents and educators in schools, and ultimately put children’s safety at risk. While the sectors have a lot of demands on them, no one wants to live with a tragic incident that could have been prevented.

Developed in consultation with key stakeholder organisations, staff working in the sector and parents, the guidelines are important resources in providing evidence-based information and support to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis, while also enabling children to participate in all activities.

To support the adoption of the guidelines, the National Allergy Strategy has also developed a new ‘Allergy Aware’ online hub for staff working in schools and CEC, providing free, evidence-based resources including an Implementation Guide, templates and sample documents, plus links to state and territory specific information. Further information below.

Food allergy and anaphylaxis is increasing in Australian children, with up to 1 in 20 school aged children having food allergies. Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction, and the incidence of food-induced anaphylaxis in Australia has risen rapidly over the last decade.

New guidelines and resources from the National Allergy Strategy aim to equip schools and children’s education and care (CEC) settings to prevent and manage anaphylaxis.

Co-chair of the National Allergy Strategy and CEO of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), Maria Said, believes the risk of anaphylaxis in schools and other children’s care settings is common.

“Children with known allergies that are at risk of anaphylaxis may have severe reactions, but they can also occur in children not previously known to be at risk of anaphylaxis”, she said.

“The new guidelines and supporting resources provide much-needed clarity around best practice.”

In schools, there is currently no national mandated approach to training staff in the prevention, recognition and emergency treatment of anaphylaxis and significant variations exist in the approach between jurisdictions and government and non-government school sectors.

The new guidelines and supporting resources are available at www.allergyaware.org.au.

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