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Allergy Today From Mark’s Desk: Raised profile for allergy issues

Mark DixonAllergy New Zealand CEO Mark Dixon outlines the wide range of recent successful activities that have raised the profile of allergy issues in New Zealand.

We had a fantastic response to this year’s Allergy Awareness Week (AAW). From a strong media build-up beforehand to plenty of activities during the week to follow-up media and events, allergy awareness was given a good shot in the arm!

You can read more about the success of the week in the AAW News Bite in this issue of Allergy Today, including the wonderful work our national support network of volunteers did to develop a great teacher resource, and the sell-out Cindy of Samoa evening hosted by Bonita and Morris Misilisi at the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club in memory of their daughter Edyn Ruben Misilisi.

In the news

We put out a number of media releases leading up to AAW and a selection of them were picked up by national and local media. TVNZ’s Sunday programme covering Edyn’s huge impact on those around her in her short but deeply meaningful time with us sparked interest and ignited unheralded support for our growing New Zealand allergy community.

The momentum has not abated since and you can read more about this as well as find links to several media interviews and articles in the AAW News Bite below.

Manufactured Food Database

Some of you may remember the Manufactured Food Database. This was a website run by the Auckland District Health Board listing products suitable for people with food allergies. It was useful for dietitians to give information to patients, but was discontinued some years ago. Fear not!

Lisa Hassan, a New Zealand registered dietitian, has been hard at work developing a Food Finder database for those with food allergies, after having two children with multiple food allergies. Check out her story in this issue.

Lisa consulted with Allergy New Zealand in the development of the website, and our volunteer network coordinators tested it to provide feedback. We hope it will be a very useful tool for those living with food allergies. Thanks, Lisa, for your hard work and dedication! And always check the label – every time!

A welcome

Our committed and allergy-aware family of partners and sponsors continues to grow and we welcome the New Zealand Comfort Group – home of the Sleepyhead brand – as a new supporter of Allergy New Zealand. We are thrilled that they are now developing locally manufactured allergy-friendly products for airborne allergy sufferers.

New Zealand is known as the global capital of dust mites and with the associated very high prevalence of dust-mite allergy in our population, more hypoallergenic bedding products will be very popular.

New allergy resource for schools

As part of AAW, the Ministry of Education launched their online Guide for allergies and learning. This is a highly accessible excellent resource that is strongly aligned with Te Whariki curriculum. Our allergy advisor Penny Jorgensen and her colleagues at the Ministry have done a thorough job of pulling this desperately needed up-to-date local guidance together – congratulations!

Appreciation

I would like to recognise and thank those who got in behind our AAW initiatives this year. To our loyal and irrepressible volunteers, our medical health professionals who responded to last-minute requests from the media, allergy-mums who found themselves in front of a TV camera or referenced in a national print article, a past-Allergy Ambassador and his family, busy volunteer board members, our magic team at our new head office, and especially Bonita and Morris and Afrodiziac – a warm and heartfelt thank you.

Allergy New Zealand is fizzing!

Mark Dixon is the CEO of Allergy New Zealand

June 2019