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Allergy Today News Bite: Allergy Awareness Week 2019 a success

Penny Jorgensen-162Members raising awareness in local communities, new resources for schools, plus some fundraising fun all contributed to making this year's Allergy Awareness Week a success.

This year’s Allergy Awareness Week 12–18 May was a great success! Thanks to everyone who helped increase awareness in your community.

Many of you took the opportunity to engage with your school, kindy, workplace, community or youth group, church, family and friends and start a conversation around allergies. Every conversation has the potential to make a difference for the next person or family with allergies, so let’s keep these going, Allergy Awareness Week or not.

Our wonderful National Support Network of volunteers worked together to create a great teacher resource of puzzles, games, posters, a colouring-in book, video links and a fun interactive group quiz to use during AAW at their school. The response was tremendous. If your school missed out, please forward this e-Newsletter to your deputy principal or office. These resources are also appropriate for community groups to use.

Morris Misilisi, Sir Peter Lietch and Bonita Misilisi-926The evening of entertainment on Saturday 18 May featuring Cindy of Samoa was a great fundraiser for Allergy New Zealand. This was hosted by Bonita and Morris Misilisi and a small army of their friends and supporters in memory of their daughter Edyn Rubena-Misilisi and was a sell-out success! Cindy put on a show that Edyn would have loved, and even Sir Peter Leitch couldn’t resist sneaking out without his doctor’s permission to make the evening a truly memorable one for everyone lucky enough to get a ticket. Edyn is loved. She is missed. She is remembered.

Funds from this evening will be used to make a series of online allergy education videos in different languages to make them accessible to Māori and Pasifika communities.

Dylan Wright and Rebecca Oliver-513The media coverage of allergy issues started early in the month with the EpiPen funding debate. Our allergy advisor Penny Jorgensen was interviewed on two TV3 shows on 1 May, Newshub’s The AM Show and 6pm News. The debate continued with mum Rebecca Oliver calling for Pharmac to also consider the quality of life for those with allergies. Read what Penny and Rebecca had to say. Niki Bezzant continued the debate in the New Zealand Herald. The New Zealand Herald also featured a piece on animal hair allergens in classrooms.

Radio NZ also chipped in during Allergy Awareness Week. They ran another interview with CEO Mark Dixon to echo one of the themes of the week: why is EpiPen® funding still not supported after 14 years of submissions from Allergy New Zealand, a 12,000 signature petition and clearly no alternative auto-injector supply?

And they topped that with the second article in Guyon Espiner’s four-part investigative series on the “secret lists” that Pharmac is allowed to withhold from public scrutiny. So, is Pharmac a quasi-commercial watchdog passing judgement on business ethics or is it the government gatekeeper tasked to prioritise access to the most effective and safe medicines available globally to protect and preserve New Zealanders’ health?

Our AAW coverage finished with the front page lead story of the Weekend New Zealand Herald on 1 June on parents testing children for allergies in hospital car parks. Thank you to all those who responded to our call for feedback on this article and especially to those who volunteered to be interviewed for it.

There are huge gaps in our public health system around the diagnosis, treatment and support of allergy sufferers. Our passionate, committed and under-resourced allergy health professionals are being left as exposed as their patients are to this capacity crisis. Increased allergy awareness spreads understanding, grows support and ultimately drives change.

June 2019