The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) celebrates today in Florence 60 years of successful activities in advancing allergy care.
Since its establishment in 1956, EAACI has dedicated its resources to improving the health of people affected by allergic diseases, becoming the primary source of expertise in Europe for all aspects of allergy and clinical immunology.
Allergies constitute a public health concern of pandemic proportions, requiring constant and concerted actions across borders. Currently, 150 million people in Europe suffer from chronic allergic diseases. Of these, 17 million suffer from food allergies, 70 million from asthma and 100 million from allergic rhinitis, not including an estimated 45% of allergy patients that are undiagnosed (see Fig.1).
Fig 1: Allergy Epidemiology
These figures provide a concerning picture of a situation that is not destined to improve, unless serious actions are taken. More than 50% of all Europeans are estimated to be affected by allergies by 2025. This will also have dramatic economic and social impacts: asthma and allergic rhinitis alone are predicted to cost more than 100 million lost workdays and missed school days every year in Europe.
The increasing cost of allergies may prove detrimental to governments, business and public health economies in Europe, if not properly controlled. However, if patients were treated correctly with available cost‑effective treatments like Allergen Immunotherapy, an average savings of €142 billion could be achieved every year.
EAACI’s commitment to tackle a global problem
Aiming to mitigate this concerning scenario where a growing number of people are affected by allergies, EAACI works unrelentingly to improve allergy care worldwide. These efforts have particularly intensified over the last 15 years thanks to an increasing support from experts around the world. Health professionals joining the EAACI community have grown from 3,000 members in 2001 to over 9,500 individual members worldwide (see Fig.2)
Fig 2: Worldwide membership development of EAACI.
Foster education and research for health professionals
As a part of its efforts to improve allergy care, EAACI provides interactive platforms for discussion through regular scientific meetings which have proven to be the most rewarding way to improve knowledge. The Annual Congressrepresents the biggest forum for allergies and will be held in Helsinki in 2017, where more than 8,000 peers can exchange new findings and experiences. Focused Meetings on specialised subfields are aimed to facilitate healthcare professionals to get the latest information on specific areas of interest – e.g. on severe asthma (ISAF), skin allergy (SAM), paediatric allergies (PAAM), hypersensivity (DHM), food allergies and anaphylaxis (FAAM), molecular allergology (ISMA) and on experimental rhinology and immunology (SERIN), to mention only some of the events organised by EAACI.
Furthermore, EAACI provides education and research for health professionals with solid reference tools. A broad range of open access scientific resources are accessible on the EAACI website: The Global Atlas of Asthma, Allergy and Allergic Rhinitis and Chronic Rhinosinusitis. The latest reference book is the Molecular Allergology User`s Guide. This book presents straightforward guidance on interpreting the recent advancements of the role of molecules in allergic reactions, on cross reactions as well as their use for tailoring the diagnosis and personalising immunotherapy.
The way ahead – “On the road to prevention and healthy living”
In line with its motto “On the road to prevention and healthy living”, in 2017 EAACI will continue to implement key actions for prevention and better quality of life for patients. Next spring, EAACI will feature the launch of a “Political Call to Action” at the level of the European Parliament. It will consist of a joint initiative among the Interest Group on Allergy and Asthma of the European Parliament, the 52 National Allergy Societies and the 28 Patient’s organisations.
The aim of this Call to Action is to highlight the role of early diagnosis and proper management of allergic diseases in saving social and economic costs for the overall community at the national and EU level.
All stakeholders and high-level politicians will be asked to join forces to:
- Recognise allergy as a major public health issue,
- Give allergy a higher political priority and
- Develop programmes on both, at the European and national level to adequately respond to the challenges posed by the growing number of affected people.
These efforts will be furthered during the 3rd High-level EU Stakeholder Workshop, organised in the context of the EAACI Annual Congress in Helsinki in June 2017. On that occasion, EAACI will once again host policymakers, health regulators, physicians, researchers, patient organisations and industry partners to leverage synergies and contribute to the allergy cause