The Australian government has allocated $26.9 million (US$18.8 million) in the 2022-23 Budget to back research to better prevent and treat allergic diseases and anaphylaxis.
Of the funding, $16.6 million will go to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and Anaphylaxis Australia to jointly set up a National Allergy Council (NAC).
Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a release on Saturday that the funding will enable the NAC to support people nationwide.
“Allergies are a part of many Australians’ lives,” he said.
“The National Health Survey estimates that hay fever and allergic rhinitis alone affect 4.6 million Australians, with chronic sinusitis affecting a further two million people.”
Common allergens include pollen; insects; certain foods, such as milk, shellfish, eggs, soy, and nuts; pets; and latex.
Hunt said that the NAC would help drive prevention, steps to improve treatment and patient management, and improved access to trained allergy health care professionals.
The funding comes in response to the 2019 bipartisan Parliamentary Inquiry into Allergies and Anaphylaxis, along with the 24 recommendations in the Walking the Allergy Tightrope report, which revealed that further investment was vital to address this ongoing health challenge.
In addition to the establishment of the NAC, a further $10.2 million will go to the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to expand the Centre for Food and Allergies Research, boosting a national collaboration of researchers and clinicians whose goal is to prevent, diagnose, treat, and manage allergies, as well as to conduct clinical trials.
ASCIA welcomed the funding, with CEO Jill Smith explaining that the Centre for Food and Allergies Research will expand to become the National Allergy Centre of Excellence, which will generate and synthesise the evidence base that underpins the activities of the NAC.
This will “ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of evidence-based management of allergic disease,” she said in a release.
Working in collaboration, these organisations will deliver a shared care program to cut wait times to see a specialist in half and improve access to quality allergy care across the nation, particularly in rural and remote areas.
In addition, digital infrastructure for a National Allergy Registry and Biobank will be established, which will include a live anaphylaxis reporting system and facilitate precision medicine, enabling individualised allergy healthcare.
Further initiatives under the funding include a world-first National Allergy Clinical Trials Network to provide Australians with accelerated access to safe and effective treatments and continued prevention programs such as Nip Allergies in the Bub, which provides practical resources for parents and educational resources for healthcare providers.
“We are entering very exciting times for allergic diseases and anaphylaxis in Australia,” Smith said.
“We look forward to providing more information about the new National Allergy Council during the ASCIA 2022 Conference in September.”