Initiatives and Priorities 2020 to 2021
To achieve its mission, ASCIA undertakes a wide range of initiatives that are prioritised as follows:
From early March 2020, it was agreed by the ASCIA Directors, CEO and Council members that ASCIA would need to address issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including postponing of the ASCIA Annual Conference until 2021, development of COVID-19 information and telehealth resources. This has resulted in a greater emphasis and expansion of ASCIA member services and benefits, which include:
- Online communication – Each month ASCIA informs members and the community of new and updated information about allergy and immunology via emails, ASCIA e-newsletters (more than 4,500 subscribers in 2020), and social media.
- ASCIA Annual Conference - Discounted registration is available to ASCIA members (see Priority 3).
- ASCIA online resources - To support ASCIA members, new and updated ASCIA online information is regularly developed and updated, including new ASCIA COVID-19 and ASCIA telehealth resources (see Priority 4).
- Advocacy on behalf of ASCIA members – ASCIA makes regular submissions to government and other organisations through letters, submissions and reports (see Priority 5).
- National Allergy Strategy resources - ASCIA members have access to new and updated allergy resources to support both them and their patients (see Priority 6).
- AIFA research grants – Only ASCIA members are eligible to apply for Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia (AIFA) research grants (see Priority 7).
- Immunodeficiency resources – ASCIA members have access to new and updated immunodeficiency information, resources and collaborations (see Priority 8).
- ASCIA committees and working parties – Only ASCIA members are eligible to join ASCIA committees and working parties allergy.org.au/members/committees and to access ASCIA member only resources, including ASCIA slides, food and drug (medication) allergen challenge protocols, and draft ASCIA information.
- ASCIA educational meetings – Only ASCIA members are eligible to attend ASCIA regional and training education meetings.
- Listing on the ASCIA website ‘How to Locate a Specialist’ section – Full ASCIA members are eligible for one or more listings on the ASCIA website allergy.org.au/patients/locate-a-specialist
- ASCIA has been operating in a sustainable way over the past 30 years, to meet the needs of ASCIA members and the community, whilst ensuring that ASCIA’s operations are financially viable into the future.
- Whilst financial sustainability is particularly important to ASCIA due to the postponement of the ASCIA Conference until 2021, environmental sustainability is also a priority. ASCIA will continue working towards improving its sustainability, both environmentally and financially, whilst adapting its operations and priorities, to address global issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more details go to www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/sustainability-2020-to-2022
- Since 1990, the ASCIA Annual Conference has provided an international standard of continuing professional development (CPD) education and is a highlight of the year for ASCIA members. The ASCIA Annual Conference is also a unique networking opportunity for health professionals working in allergy, clinical immunology and immunopathology.
- The ASCIA Annual Conference for 2020 has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will now be held from 1st to 3rd September 2021, at the Melbourne Convention Centre.
For more details go to www.allergy.org.au/conferences/ascia-annual-conference
ASCIA has been working continuously in 2019-2020 to update and develop more online resources, education and training than in previous years. This has resulted in more than:
- 20 new ASCIA resources.
- 40 updated ASCIA resources (including 10 e-training courses).
Due to many challenges in 2020 we believe that this work is now more important than ever, to support ASCIA members, their patients/carers, other health professionals and the community by providing accessible, consistent and evidence based information.
For more details go to www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/education-projects
ASCIA’s top three policy and advocacy related issues in 2020 are as follows:
1. Education and Training - Support is required for accessible, consistent and evidence based allergy, anaphylaxis and primary immunodeficiency educational and training resources for health professionals, patients, carers and the community.
2. Access to Care - Improved access to timely, equitable and quality specialist and multidisciplinary care for patients with allergies or primary immunodeficiencies is needed, to improve access to funded treatments and diagnostic tests. This includes newborn screening for early diagnosis of severe primary immunodeficiencies throughout Australia (this is already available in New Zealand).
3. Collaborations and Research – ASCIA has recently advocated for an Allergy and Immunology Research Mission to be added to the initiatives in the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) consultation, to inform the third Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2020-2022. This request has been made for the following reasons:
- There are currently no cures for allergies and anaphylaxis, which affect around one in five Australians and New Zealanders. This high prevalence and lack of a cure makes allergies and anaphylaxis major public health issues. Significant health and economic gains can therefore be made by investing in more research to improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of allergies and anaphylaxis.
- Primary Immunodeficiencies (PIDs) are relatively rare and complex diseases. There is an urgent need to measure the prevalence, diagnosis and outcomes of patients with PID in Australia and New Zealand using genomic testing for genetic diagnoses, alongside conventional diagnostics, to enable the delivery of appropriate care and to estimate resource utilisation. The application of genomic technologies is changing this field and the benefits of this diagnostic advances will only be achieved in clinical and research centres with expertise in PID and translational genomics. It is also important that we understand more about the natural history and prognosis of PIDs, which requires support for registries to track the clinical course of PID, and collaborations between clinical immunology specialists and nurses with other health professionals and research collaborators.
- Nip Allergies in the Bub for food allergy prevention
- 250K for teenagers and young adults with severe allergies
- Food allergy education
- My Health Record allergy project
For details about grants awarded in 2019 go to www.allergyimmunology.org.au/projects/#latest
The ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy for Australia and New Zealand aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people with primary immunodeficiencies (PID) and minimise the burden on individuals, carers, healthcare services and community. A draft Strategy has been developed, following a meeting of stakeholders in March 2019 and an extensive review in early 2020. However, progress on finalising the Strategy has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and absence of funding.
- Completion of the Strategy is critical for advocacy on behalf of patients with immunodeficiencies.
- Funding in 2020 will enable ASCIA to update the Strategy document and website www.nationalimmunodeficiencystrategy.org.au, coordinate a final review by stakeholders and publish the Strategy by the end of 2020, to enable it to be implemented in 2021. ASCIA will then promote the Strategy through its online newsletters and social media, and in meetings with governments and other organisations.
- The Strategy will include the ASCIA Immunodeficiency Register project https://idregister.ascia.org.au which requires further ethics approvals and coordinated promotion to expand its use. The Register will be a critical tool to build a broad and comprehensive knowledge base and improve outcomes for patients with immunodeficiencies, who are managed by clinical immunologists. Analysis of deidentified patient data collected in this Register will inform current and future practice.