Health & Safety

Epidemic impacts more than one-third of New Zealanders

SN21-HealthSafety-Allergies-2At least one-third of New Zealander’s health is impacted by allergies and one in ten babies born in New Zealand today will develop a significant allergy related health issue.

Formal research shows that allergy rates, including food allergy¹, continue to increase.

New Zealand has some of the highest allergy rates in the world. Despite this data, there is a significant lack of funding for allergy services, yet the economic burden – productivity and medical costs – is growing.

Allergy New Zealand’s CEO, Penny Jorgensen, says: “There is an allergy epidemic and the health system doesn’t appear to understand or take into account the increasing complexity and severity of allergies. Too many families and individuals are left isolated to struggle with the consequences on their own, and at risk.”

Allergies are driven by the immune system and late last month Professor Le Gros , Director of the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, and his team announced a major research breakthrough which identified a unique type of immune cell that appears linked to allergic skin diseases.

“This is a huge step forward for us as allergy researchers. We now have a specific target for the development of new therapies that stop the onset of allergic disease,” says Professor Le Gros.

Allergy New Zealand is the only national resource for allergy support, information and education for people with allergies, their caregivers, schools and health professionals, but they receive no government funding.

Penny Jorgensen says: “The lack of specialist allergy services throughout the District Health Boards is making the situation even more challenging, particularly outside of Auckland. In fact there are virtually no services in the South Island at all.”

Schools and businesses around the country will be fundraising during Allergy Awareness Week by hosting events such as fingernail painting morning teas featuring allergen-free recipes. Allergy New Zealand’s info pack and other free resources including recipes are available on the website.

Allergy Awareness Week 2013 is sponsored by HRV, Nilfisk and Freedom Foods – all specialists in providing allergen free options for allergy sufferers.

The World Allergy Organisation states ‘the rise in allergic disease is dramatic and especially problematic in children, who are bearing the greatest burden’ and that food allergy is a rising public health issue globally.

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