District health board submissions
Frustrated at the lack of allergy services? Join Allergy New Zealand in making submissions to the District Health Boards.
As part of Allergy Awareness Week, 18-24 May, Allergy New Zealand will be presenting a submission to each of New Zealand’s 21 District Health Boards.
The purpose of these submissions is to raise awareness of the substantial burden that allergies, as one of the leading forms of chronic disease, imposes on New Zealanders as a whole.
New Zealand has one of the highest prevalence of allergic disease in the developed world, affecting up to 20 per cent of the population, mainly young people of working age and their children.
Allergic diseases are a significant underlying cause of avoidable hospital admissions including for asthma and anaphylaxis; repeat GP visits for conditions such as eczema, ear and chest infections and conjunctivitis, and high use of medications such as antibiotics.
They are also responsible for complex conditions such as food allergy, and life-threatening reactions such as anaphylaxis.
However, as people in many regions of New Zealand report, it is very difficult to access specialist care, whether public or private.
In fact, the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy has stated that the number of allergy/immunology specialists in New Zealand is well below international benchmarks and inadequate to manage the burden of disease.
This chronic condition is usually triggered by substances that are difficult to avoid in every day life, from house dust mites and pollen to eggs and dairy food.
Even mild symptoms often have hidden effects, such as lack of sleep due to itching from eczema, while life-threatening reactions such as anaphylaxis to food, happen within minutes and require an emergency response.
Yet in most regions of New Zealand people report significant delays in getting a proper diagnosis let alone advice and treatment; and in all but a few DHB areas, patients have to pay for services such has laboratory tests or a referral to an allergy specialist, even when such referrals are standard clinical practice overseas.
There is also little or no recognition of the impact on the individual and/or family in managing complex chronic allergic conditions such as food allergy and/or anaphylaxis.
This is compounded by the ongoing reluctance of Pharmac to fund the adrenaline auto-injector (i.e. EpiPen®) for those at risk of anaphylaxis.
In these submissions, Allergy New Zealand will call on District Health Boards to:
To make these submissions mean something to the District Health Boards, we need as many people as possible to indicate their support for Allergy New Zealand in presenting them on your behalf. We will attach copies of emails and letters sent in support and which identify the District Health Board concerned.
You can indicate support in a number of ways:
The full submission will be available on our website from 9 May. In the meantime if you have any queries please feel free to contact us.