Initiatives and Priorities 2021
To achieve its Purpose, ASCIA undertakes a wide range of initiatives that are prioritised as follows:
ASCIA member services and benefits have continued to expand in 2021, including:
- 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 5,000 subscribers in 2020), and social media.
- Advocacy on behalf of ASCIA members – ASCIA makes regular submissions to government and other organisations through letters, submissions and reports (see Priority 3).
- ASCIA Annual Conference - Discounted registration is available to ASCIA members (see Priority 4).
- ASCIA online resources, education and training - To support ASCIA members, new and updated ASCIA online information is regularly developed and updated (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
- Access to ASCIA member only resources - These include 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 and environmentally sustainable into the future.
- ASCIA continues to improve its sustainability, both environmentally and financially, whilst adapting its operations and priorities to address issues. For details go to www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/sustainability-2020-to-2022
ASCIA’s top three policy and advocacy related issues in 2020-2021 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.
- Since 1990, the ASCIA Annual Conference has provided an international standard of continuing professional development (CPD) and is a highlight of the year for health professionals working in allergy, clinical immunology and immunopathology.
- The ASCIA 2021 Conference was held as a highly successful virtual event from 1-3 September. To read more go to www.allergy.org.au/conferences/ascia-annual-conference
ASCIA continuously updates and develop world leading online resources, education and training that is accessible, consistent and evidence-based. For details go to www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/education-projects
- 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
The Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia (AIFA) has awarded more than $500,000 since the AIFA research grant program commenced in 2015. This includes:
- $127,000 awarded to 5 research projects in 2021, which are listed on the AIFA website https://www.allergyimmunology.org.au/grants These were announced at the end of the session in the ASCIA 2021 Virtual Conference that featured presentations from past AIFA grant recipients 2015-2019.
- $110,000 awarded to 5 research projects in 2020.
- $120,000 awarded to 5 research projects in 2019.
Research projects awarded AIFA grants 2015-2021 are listed at www.allergyimmunology.org.au/projectsThank you to our generous donors, corporate supporters and our expert grant selection panel. AIFA is now seeking donations and support for the AIFA 2022 grants. To donate or sponsor a grant go to www.allergyimmunology.org.au/donate
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. The Strategy is critical for advocacy on behalf of patients with immunodeficiencies.
The Strategy and website will be launched in February 2022