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Information updates

ASCIA Progress Report - NAC Shared Care for Allergy Project - July 2023

ASCIA Progress Report - National Allergy Council (NAC) Shared Care for Allergy (SCA) Project 

ASCIA’s involvement in the National Allergy Council Shared Care project includes:

  • Advocacy to increase access to care, including food and drug challenges, to improve diagnosis and management of allergic conditions.
  • Education, training and mentorship of health professionals, to improve knowledge and experience in managing allergic conditions.

For the latest update go to https://www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/info-updates/ascia-update-shared-care-project

Shared Care Consultation Meetings

ASCIA actively promoted the Shared Care consultation meetings to ASCIA members and other health professionals through e-newsletters, direct email and social media. This resulted in a range of health professionals being well represented at these meetings throughout Australia. Feedback to ASCIA from meeting participants has been positive and they have welcomed the opportunity to provide input.

Gap Analysis – Anaphylaxis and Allergy Training

ASCIA is undertaking scoping work to determine the current allergy training being provided in medical and allied health professional undergraduate degrees/certificates.

ASCIA has progressed an extensive gap analysis to scope the current anaphylaxis and allergy training provided to undergraduate students for a range of  health disciplines. ASCIA will engage with relevant stakeholders to determine the benefits, enablers and barriers for incorporating anaphylaxis and allergy training into undergraduate courses.

  • An initial scoping report of current providers of undergraduate healthcare degrees has been completed.
  • ASCIA has developed a comprehensive list of contacts for tertiary institutions that provide degrees for medical practitictioners (including general practitioners, physicians and paediatricians), nurses, nurse practitioners, psychologists, dietitians, and paramedics.

Surveys evaluating ASCIA anaphylaxis and allergy e-training courses for health professionals have been undertaken:

  • Data from voluntary post-training evaluation surveys for ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for health professionals from December 2021 to December 2022 has been analysed and results entered into a report which is available here.
    pdfHP Anaphylaxis Report 2022694.21 KB and also on the ASCIA website https://www.allergy.org.au/ascia-reports
  • Data collected from January 2023 to December 2023 from mandatory e-training surveys will be analysed and reports will be developed in early 2024
  • Further reports will be developed from survey data collected on annual basis.

The following surveys to determine the current anaphylaxis and allergy training in undergraduate health professional degrees have been developed in Qualtrics 

  • Survey 1 in July-August 2023 for health professional graduates to understand their undergraduate experience of anaphylaxis and allergy training. This survey was implemented by promotion through health professional organisations, e-newsletters, direct email and social media. 
  • Survey 2 in October-December 2023 for representatives from institutions and is available at https://www.allergy.org.au/hp. This survey is being implemented by contacting relevant stakeholders. ASCIA has developed a comprehensive list of contacts for tertiary institutions that provide degrees for health disciplines which are approved by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).  

The results of all of the surveys listed above will be summarised in reports to:

  • Highlight factors influencing the decision to incorporate anaphylaxis and allergy training in undergraduate degrees.
  • Provide insights into the benefits of including anaphylaxis and allergy training for future health professionals.
  • Outline potential improvements in ASCIA e-training courses based on feedback in the reports on ASCIA anaphylaxis and allergy e-training courses for health professionals.
  • Provide feedback to assist in developing consistent minimum standards/competencies for anaphylaxis and allergy training across institutions.

Gap Analysis – Resource Management

A comprehensive review of ASCIA website resources accessible to patients, carers and health professionals has been completed on 31 May 2023. Each individual resource has been catalogued in a spreadsheet that now forms an integral part of the collaborative gap analysis. This spreadsheet will be maintained and updated on a continual basis as new and revised resources become available.  The intention is to have this available open access on the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/website-information#s1

Promotion of Patient/Carer Support Organisations 

  • ASCIA Fast Facts have provided concise, reliable and easy to read information about allergies and other immune system disorders since they were first developed in 2019. ASCIA Fast Facts are the first online resources for patients and carers that have been reviewed and updated in 2023 to ensure that plain language is used where possible, and links to patient and carer support organisations are included at the top of each document. These updates have been made by ASCIA as part of the National Allergy Council Shared Care for Allergy project. The updated ASCIA Fast Facts are available at www.allergy.org.au/patients/fast-facts on 20 topics.
  • ASCIA Dietary Guides for Food Allergy have been updated with links to patient and carer support organisations included at the top of each document. The previous versions had blue “Dietary Guide” headers which are no longer used, as it is important to make it clear that these resources are for patients and carers and “Dietary Guide” is now stated in the title of each document. In October 2022 each of the 11 Dietary Guide webpages were updated to include ReadSpeaker, to improve accessibility. The updated ASCIA Dietary Guides for Food Allergy are available at www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/ascia-dietary-avoidance-for-food-allergy for 10 allergen groups, as well as general information in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for patients and carers.
  • ASCIA Dietary Guides for the Four Food Elimination Diet (4FED) and Two Food Elimination Diet (2FED) for Eosinophilic Oesophagitis (EoE) have been updated with links to patient and carer support organisations included at the top of each document. The previous versions had blue “Dietary Guide” headers which are no longer used, as it is important to make it clear that these resources are for patients and carers and “Dietary Guide” is now stated in the title of each document. ReadSpeaker is available on the Dietary Guide webpages to improve accessibility. The updated ASCIA Dietary Guides for EoE are available at 

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ASCIA Progress Report - NAC Schools and CEC Project - July 2023

ASCIA Progress Report - National Allergy Council (NAC) Schools and Children’s Education/Care (CEC) Project

ASCIA’s involvement in the NAC Schools and CEC project includes education and training of staff in schools and CEC services, to improve knowledge about management of allergies and anaphylaxis. 

Gap analysis to determine current allergy education being provided

  • Initial scoping research detailing the progress of the gap analysis has been completed.
  • The full gap analysis is expected to be completed by 31 December 2023.

Surveys

  • A survey for people studying and/or working within the education industry (schools and children’s education/care services) to determine how anaphylaxis training is being provided in undergraduate courses was completed during June 2023 and was available at www.allergy.org.au/schools-childcare which was promoted via newsletters, direct email and social media. Analysis of the survey data is expected to be completed by 31 December 2023. 
  • Mandatory evaluation surveys were added to these courses in January 2023 and survey data from January to July 2023 will be analysed. Based on this data, ASCIA will develop a plan by November 2023 to consult with users, which is likely to include conducting focus groups. 
  • Data from voluntary post-training evaluation surveys for ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for Schools and Children's Education/Care (CEC) from December 2021 to December 2022 has been evaluated and results will inform course reviews and updates. Reports are available here: 

    pdfSchools 2022 Report629.44 KB   

    pdfCEC 2022 Report583.28 KB

The results of these surveys will be summarised in reports to:

  • Highlight factors influencing the decision to incorporate anaphylaxis training in undergraduate degrees.
  • Provide insights into the benefits of including anaphylaxis training for future educators.
  • Outline potential improvements in ASCIA e-training courses based on feedback.
  • Provide feedback to assist in developing consistent minimum standards/competencies for anaphylaxis training across institutions.

Updating ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for schools and CEC

Major updates have been made to these courses in June and July 2023 to include the 2023 versions of ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis (red), ASCIA Action Plan for Allergic Reactions (green), ASCIA Action Plan for Drug (Medication) Allergy (dark green) and ASCIA First Aid Plan for Anaphylaxis (orange). Details of the updates are on the ASCIA website: https://www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/info-updates/new-2023-versions-of-ascia-action-plans-for-anaphylaxis

ASCIA has developed new 2023 versions of ASCIA Action Plans for Anaphylaxis and ASCIA First Aid Plans for Anaphylaxis, to improve ease of use, which are available from June 2023 onwards. This is the first major formatting change in 20 years, since ASCIA Action Plans for Anaphylaxis were first introduced in 2003. The plans can be accessed on the ASCIA website:

Increase the uptake of ASCIA anaphylaxis refresher training by schools and CEC 

  • ASCIA anaphylaxis refresher e-training courses for schools, CEC and community have been promoted in monthly ASCIA Community newsletters from July 2022 to June 2023. These newsletters are sent to more than 5,000 recipients each month.
  • A promotion plan for ASCIA social media has been developed, to be implemented from July 2023 onwards 
  • From 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 there were 6,028 enrolments for ASCIA Anaphylaxis Refresher e-training of which 681 had not yet completed the course.
  • From 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 there were 5,277 enrolments for ASCIA Anaphylaxis Refresher e-training of which 653 had not yet completed the course.

Maintain ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for schools and CEC services

  • In addition to the June/July updates, courses have been updated in January 2023 and September 2022 to include addition of mandatory evaluation surveys and product changes (Anapen and EpiPen).
  • Once evaluation reports are completed further course improvements will be made.

Provide support for users of the ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for schools and CEC

  • ASCIA provides ongoing email and online support for ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for schools and CEC services.
  • ASCIA responds to approximately 300 inquiries regarding the courses per month.

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Alfamino® Formula for Infants with Cow's Milk Allergy - July 2023

Nestlé Health Science has advised that they will be out of stock of the current recipe of Alfamino® 400g specialised formula for infants with cow's milk allergy  from around mid-July until the end of August 2023. They expect that it will be available again in pharmacies around early September.

pdfAlfamino stock notification for parents and carers114.08 KB

Nestlé Health Science is aware of the difficulties this will pose for some parents and caregivers, and apologise for this situation.  

Alfamino® infant formula has a new recipe. Nestlé Health Science awaits PBS listing confirmation for this product to be able to supply it through pharmacies at the PBS subsidised price. In the interim period, the new recipe Alfamino® will be available to parents and caregivers through the online Nestlé Baby Store Products – Nestlé Baby Store (nestlebaby.com.au). The new recipe Alfamino® continues to be an amino acid based infant formula for infants (0-12 months) with severe cow’s milk protein allergy, eosinophilic oesophagitis, intestinal malabsorption and/or multiple food intolerances. Parents and carers should speak to their healthcare professional for advice. For more information, contact Nestlé Health Science Consumer Services on 1800 671 628.  

ALFAMINO® is an infant formula product for special dietary use and must be used under medical supervision. It is not suitable for general use.

The ASCIA Guide for Milk Substitutes in Cow’s Milk Allergy provides information about safe, nutritionally equivalent alternatives for infants with cow’s milk allergy, if a particular specialised formula is not available due to supply issues.. The ASCIA Guide is available at https://www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/guide-for-milk-substitutes-cows-milk-allergy 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breast milk is best for babies and provides ideal nutrition.  Good maternal nutrition is important for the preparation and maintenance of breastfeeding.  Introducing partial bottle feeding could negatively affect breastfeeding and reversing a decision not to breastfeed is difficult.  Professional advice should be followed on infant feeding.  Infant formula should be prepared and used exactly as directed or it could pose a health hazard.  The preparation requirements and weekly cost of providing infant formula until 12 months of age should be considered before making a decision to formula feed. Mothers should be encouraged to continue breastfeeding even when their infants have cow’s milk protein allergy. If a decision to use an infant formula for special dietary use is taken, it must be used under medical supervision.

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New and Updated ASCIA Fast Facts - June 2023

ASCIA Fast Facts have provided concise, reliable and easy to read information about allergies and other immune system disorders since they were first developed in 2019. ASCIA Fast Facts are the first online resources for patients and carers that have been reviewed and updated in 2023 to ensure that plain language is used where possible, and links to patient and carer support organisations are included at the top of each document. These updates have been made by ASCIA as part of the National Allergy Council Shared Care for Allergy project. 

The updated ASCIA Fast Facts are available online at www.allergy.org.au/patients/fast-facts on the following on 20 topics.

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ASCIA Progress Report – National Allergy Council Projects - May 2023

ASCIA has been progressing work on the following National Allergy Council projects since July 2022:

Increased Staff Capacity
  • ASCIA employed two project officers to work on the National Allergy Council projects who commenced work on 1st March 2023, as listed on the ASCIA website  www.allergy.org.au/members/committees#d
  • In addition, existing ASCIA staff and contractors are working to progress work on the National Allergy Council projects.  

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Registration is still open for ASCIA 2023 Conference - May 2023

Registration is still open for the ASCIA 2023 Conference, to be held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney from Tuesday 5th to Friday 8th September 2023. This is a hybrid conference, which enables virtual registration for delegates who cannot attend in-person, and on-demand viewing of sessions for all registered delegates after the conference.

To register go to https://ascia2023.com/registration.html

The ASCIA 2023 Conference Program Book is available at https://www.allergy.org.au/conferences/ascia-annual-conference

Delegates may also wish to register for the CIRCA meeting at the Garvan Institute, Darlinghurst on Monday 2nd September - Register here 

The Practical Rhinoscopy workshop at St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst on Saturday 9th September is now full.

The ASCIA 2023 Conference program includes current allergy and clinical immunology clinical issues and research findings, which will be presented by more than 60 speakers, including five international speakers - A/Prof Edmond Chan (Canada), Prof Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn (USA), Prof Anne Puel (France), Dr Lluis Quintana-Murc (France) and A/Prof Elizabeth Tham (Singapore).  

We have received a record number of 162 abstracts, comrpising 25 Clinical Grand Rounds (CGR) cases and 137 Posters, which is around 30% more submissions received compared to previous ASCIA Conferences. 

The ASCIA 2023 Conference program will include main sessions from 9am to 6pm AEST each day, with a focus on:

  • Clinical Grand Rounds (CGR) Cases and selected Poster Presentations on Tuesday 5th September
  • Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis on Wednesday 6th September
  • Drug, Insect, Animal and Respiratory Allergy on Thursday 7th September
  • Immunodeficiency, Autoimmunity and Autoinflammatory Disorders on Friday 8th September

On Thursday 7th September an inaugural ASCIA Immunodeficiency Update for Nurses will be held.

On Friday 8th September there will be three concurrent Allergy Update meetings, which include some shared sessions:

  • ASCIA Allergy Update for Medical Practitioners
  • ASCIA Allergy Update for Nurses
  • ASCIA Allergy Update for Dietitians

To improve sustainability, the ASCIA 2023 Conference will feature:

  • A living, digital Program Book, which can be kept up to date and reduces waste associated with printing. 
  • Online posters, which reduces production costs and waste associated with printing and transporting of posters.
  • Namebadges that do not include a plastic holder and reusable lanyards.

The ASCIA 2023 Conference will provide an international standard of continuing professional development (CPD) for ASCIA members and other health professionals working in allergy and clinical immunology, as well as an opportunity for in-person interactions with colleagues.

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Outcomes from ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy Meeting - May 2023

The ASCIA  Immunodeficiency Strategy for Australia and New Zealand meeting was held on Friday 28th April, to coincide with World Primary Immunodeficiency Week 2023. The meeting was attended by a range of stakeholders including clinicians (clinical immunologists, specialist nurses and allied health), patient/carer organisations (AusPIPs, IDFA and IDFNZ), and researchers. The meeting was supported by ASCIA and an unrestricted educational grant from CSL Behring. As a result of this meeting a list of proposed prioritised actions was developed which are outlined below,

We welcome feedback from ASCIA members and stakeholders on the following proposed prioritised actions:

1) Standards of care which includes care by GPs and other health professionals. (Goals 2, 3, 4, 5, 8)

An ASCIA Standards of Care for Inborn Errors of Immunity (IEI), also known as primary immunodeficiencies (PID), will be developed, which will assist in benchmarking and advocating for optimal services and treatment. The format will be similar to the Quality in Primary Immunodeficiency Services document, which was produced by the Royal College of Physicians in UK, but expanded to reflect the Australian and New Zealand situations.

2) Specific working groups, including genetic testing and newborn screening (NBS) clinical implementation. (Goals 1, 2, 3, 8)

ASCIA working groups will be formed to further address issues for better access and funding of genetic testing and the implementation of the clinical aspects for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) newborn screening (NBS). Whilst SCID NBS laboratory testing has been funded and commenced or will soon commence to cover all jurisdictions, each region has differences which need to be considered in a national approach for SCID NBS and genetic testing.

3) Education program for transition from paediatric to adult care and advocacy for resourcing of improved transition services based on the Standards of Care (Goal 4, 6)

It has been recognised that there are many aspects of transitioning from paediatric to adult services that should be improved for complex patients with IEI and their families  Programs addressing education and support for patients, families and service providers and advocacy for funding of appropriate supportive multidisclinary resources utilising the ASCIA Standards of Care for IEI will help address this.

4) Advocacy, including discussions regarding Chronic Disease Strategy, patient/carer support organisations, Rare Voices Australia, health economics, barriers to access and Indigenous Australian/Maori involving clinicians and patients. (Goals 4, 5, 8)

Advocacy will be central to many of our goals. The ASCIA Standards of Care document will be important, as will be collaborations with patient/carer support organisations and potential utilisation of the Chronic Disease Strategy.

5) Research initiatives, including an audit of access to testing/care and rejuvenation of ASCIA Immunodeficiency (ID) Register. (Goal 7)

An audit of access to testing and access to care was recommended, to better understand the inequities identified and the differences between access in public versus private heathcare systems.

Rejuvenation of the ASCIA Immunodeficiency (ID) Register is underway, but we need to optimise the entry of data, with recognition of the need for project officer support and the need to change from the existing waiver of consent to a formal consent process. An active ASCIA ID Register will allow documentation of numbers for advocacy and also allow expansion of research.

Why was the ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy initiated?

The ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy for Australia and New Zealand was established to address the needs of patients and their families affected by immunodeficiency in a targeted collaborative way. The development of the Strategy was built on the experience from the successful implementation of the National Allergy Strategy.

The first ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy meeting was held on Friday 8 March 2019 and was attended by a wide range of stakeholders including clinicians, patient/carer organisations and researchers. Despite the disruptions of the COVID pandemic over the last three years, there has been significant progress in some of these areas, but there are still substantial issues that need to be addressed.

The ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy for Australia and New Zealand document was developed from 2019-2021 and launched in April 2022. The Strategy includes eight goals to address key issues, as listed below. 

ASCIA Immunodeficiency Strategy Goals

Goal 1: Enable early diagnosis of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) by newborn screening

Goal 2: Enable early diagnosis of other PID/IEI disorders through recognition of early warning signs of PID/IEI disorders, appropriate testing and treatment.

Goal 3: Improve access to expert genetic diagnosis by using genomic and immune testing for patients with suspected or recently diagnosed PID/IEI disorders, or people with a family history of PID/IEI.

Goal 4: Ensure equitable access to specialist and multi-disciplinary care for patients with PID/IEI disorders, including those living in regional, rural and remote areas.

Goal 5: Ensure equitable access to treatments, that are appropriately supported and funded for patients with PID/IEI disorders.

Goal 6: Increase support for PID/IEI education and training for patients, carers and health professionals.

Goal 7: Increase support for multi-disciplinary clinical and laboratory PID/IEI research and collaborations.

Goal 8: Ensure that the priorities of Indigenous Australian and Maori populations are represented in PID/IEI diagnosis, care and research.

For more information about the Strategy visit https://nationalimmunodeficiencystrategy.org.au/

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