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Allergy Today: From Mark’s Desk

Was this New Zealand’s longest year?

Welcome to Allergy Today. Please help us raise allergy awareness by sharing your free e-newsletter with others every time you receive your copy.iStock-1188814697-300

Adversity can come in many forms. This year, no one has escaped the impact of COVID-19. Despite our relatively limited physical exposure to it in New Zealand, it has had a much wider impact than the infection data reported to date.

The social and financial impacts have been significant and will likely be a lasting legacy of the pandemic for New Zealand.

We know that the allergy community have found the nature of this virus particularly challenging. The similarity of symptoms between allergic rhinitis (runny nose, itchy eyes and mouth) and those of early COVID infection, have caused many allergy sufferers, distress. Not just their concern as to whether they had contracted COVID in those early months but also having to allay the fears of others around them that they were not infectious. 

Watch our TV3 Newshub contribution on this issue.

With eight months more experience of managing the health impacts of this virus, and collaborating with their overseas colleagues, our health care professionals are now better educated and resourced than they were when COVID-19 first landed in March this year.

With news of potentially effective vaccine trials progressing at pace globally, we are hopeful that 2021 will deliver a turning point for all of us. 

Cat Allergy?

Please take a look at Penny’s article on the status of cat allergies in New Zealand. There’s also a ‘News Bite’ asking if readers would like to trial a new cat food designed to reduce allergic reactions to cats before its market launch in New Zealand next year. We provided a summary of the research into this food in our October issue - Click here

An Allergy Journey

It has been a while since we shared a story from one of our readers. In this issue, Board member, volunteer and Mum, Kristen de Monchy, shares her trials, tribulations and successes with managing allergies in her family. It is a brief insight into a family’s endurance, bravery and love.

Similar journeys of varying intensity are experienced by a lot of allergy families in New Zealand. They include frustrations of conflicting diagnosis and management, the need to stay close in those early, high-risk years, the high levels of patience and trust required from carers, and the value of consistent support and awareness.

Kristen’s approach and life lessons are inspiring and reassuring. If you have allergy experiences that have helped you and your family, please feel free to share them with us. Please send your story through to Penny by emailing, advisor@allergy.org.nz

Merry Christmas

I am sure everyone is looking forward to the end of this year and a fresh start in 2021.

Allergy New Zealand has experienced one of its busiest and most rewarding years in recent times. Yes, navigating through COVID-19 has been interesting for us but it has provided many more support opportunities, and a political environment that is focussed on health management resourcing, like never before.

Our advocacy work has been in full flight this year, and we have multiple complementary initiatives in play across no less than five government ministries and their associated regulatory bodies.

At ground level, we have engaged with community health service agencies and tertiary institutions to co-ordinate and host allergy workshops when lockdown restrictions allowed. Our allergy education packs also went out to more than 160 primary schools and early childcare centres nationally. We thank the Lottery National Community Grant, Foundation North and COGS for their support of these essential community-based programmes.

With the support of the Ministry of Social Development, our local medical centre and Asthma New Zealand, we were able to host influenza clinics during lockdown from our offices in Mt Eden. The clinics were so well received that the service was extended to Autism New Zealand, HeartKids and Diabetes Auckland members.

FundaPen™ succeeded beyond our most ambitious expectations and has sparked more projects, Partner initiatives, and advocacy engagements than we ever anticipated. Watch this space for more on FundaPen™ in the New Year.

Our primary medical and clinical networks are strong, allergy awareness is high, and our sponsors and partners are already committed to an even more effective 2021.

Our thanks to our volunteers, members and supporters. We wish you all a safe, fun and healthy Christmas together.

Mark Dixon, CEO Allergy NZ

Allergy Today, December 2020