Food allergy care training modules for school staff set to help manage and prevent fatalities in SA
Food Allergy can be mild, severe or life-threatening and the incidence is increasing worldwide. Globally, there has been a 50% increase in hospitalisations due to allergic reactions. In South Africa, and in a recently published SAFFA study shows that 2.5% of children in Cape Town are food allergic. It is expected that these statistics could be reflected in other areas around the country.
Forty percent of allergy sufferers are youth and there is generally no cure – avoidance and treatment of a reaction are the only coping options. Desensitisation may be offered in select cases to try and increase tolerance levels. One in three people will suffer from some allergic disease during their life. More and more, the possibility of a child having an allergic reaction to food eaten in the school environment is real, and if not managed properly, the result can be fatal.
Prof Mike Levin, CEO of AFSA and head of Allergology at Red Cross Children’s Hospital says, “with life threatening food allergy it is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis and care from an allergy specialist or medical professional with expertise in allergy, as soon as possible.”
This year, for World Allergy Week (7-13 April), the Allergy Foundation of South Africa (AFSA) and the Allergy Society of South Africa (ALLSA), is offering online training modules for teachers and caregivers in schools, on the management of learners with food allergies.
“And as a special World Allergy Week project, as part of the drive to raise awareness of the importance of correct handling of allergies and anaphylaxis, in addition to the ongoing online training, during the week of 7-13 April, contact sessions are being offered through AFSA and ALLSA by an allergy specialist, to groups of teachers and staff. Allergy education and adrenaline auto-injector demonstrations will be provided,” said Prof Claudia Gray, Paediatric Allergist.
“We have more than 12 million children in over 25,000 schools in South Africa – so hundreds of thousands of our children are at risk. Early intervention might play a role in preventing allergies,” says Allergist Dr Sarah Karabus, co-author with Kath Megaw and Megan Faure of Allergy Sense, the soon to be released book on food allergies.
Studies also show that early use of emollients like the range of SBR Creams can prevent the development of eczema. Products that are emollients containing unperfumed medical moisturisers, soothe and relieve itchiness and produce an oily layer over the skin, effectively trapping water beneath it. The resulting restoration of the skin’s barrier function by emollients like SBR Repair and SBR Lipocream prevents the penetration of irritants, allergens and bacteria and reduces the development of eczema and infection”, says Karabus.
Find out how you can get involved and learn more, or sponsor a school to receive training via ‘Allergy Awareness for Teachers’ Programme. Visit our learning academy for all AFSA Learning Academy Allergy Courses.
As part of World Allergy Week focus, AFSA is launching their first online Food Allergy Support group for Coeliac Disease patients. If you have Coeliac Disease, and you wish to join the group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The group is overseen by Allergist Dr Candice Royal. The support group application will be accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop devices.
For more details on how to manage anaphylaxis and food allergy. Visit: www.allergyfoundation.co.za/patient-information/en/allergic-diseases/food-allergy/, and download the AFSA information pamphlet for free!
For more information about World Allergy Week 2019 visit their website!