White Book calls for action on allergies

DUBAI — The first-ever advocacy document on allergies, calling for action from governments and policy makers on the growing burden of allergies will be launched in Dubai next month.


Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Mon 15 Nov 2010, 11:34 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:59 PM

The World Allergy Organisation (WAO) will launch the executive summary of its first-ever ‘White Book on Allergies,’ emphasising that asthma and allergic diseases are major global public health issues.

The book will provide high-level recommendations towards creating a more integrated and holistic approach to the diagnosis and management of allergic diseases, said Dr Ruby Pawankar, WAO President-Elect.

“The book has collected data on the prevalence of the disease from all countries and is proof that asthma and allergies are major health issues in the world,” she said.

The book will be launched during the WAO Inaugural International Scientific Conference at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from December 5 to 8.

The document will be distributed to governments, policy makers, health and environmental ministries, food and drug administrators, sports authorities, and patient organisations.

WAO, in collaboration with its member societies, aim to establish implementation groups in each country to take charge of the recommendations to improve medical practices for the benefit of patients with allergies.

“There needs to be an integrated approach in tackling the issue,” she said. However, according to Dr Ruby, there was lack of proper studies in the country.

“There needs to be proper epidemiological studies done based on which we can educate and raise public awareness regarding the issue,” she explained.

Scattered local studies suggest that consanguinity puts Emirati children at a higher risk of developing asthma and co-related allergies. The prevalence rate of asthma in the UAE is around 13.5 per cent while it is more than 20 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 18 per cent in Kuwait.

The UAE is also considered ‘a hub’ of allergies due to factors such as high levels of humidity, increased westernised life styles and food habits like fast foods are some of the factors responsible for the rise in allergies, said Dr Ruby while calling for immediate action.

Outdoor pollution, global warming and smoking are also contributing to the increase in allergies. “Increase in food allergies makes it more imperative to increase awareness among the public and practicing physicians. Food allergies can lead to severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis that can be fatal. Therefore, appropriate labelling of foods especially fast foods that are widely consumed is essential,” she said.

“About 300 million people across the world suffer from asthma while about 250,000 worldwide die each year due to complications resulting from the disease. Many of these deaths could have been prevented with appropriate diagnosis and optimal treatment. The increase in the prevalence of asthma and allergies is especially problematic in children, who bear the greatest burden of this rising trend. It is projected that the number of people with asthma could grow to as many as 400-450 million worldwide by 2025,” she said.

Another study showed that the prevalence of comorbid asthma and allergic rhinitis (AR) in the UAE is 7.3 per cent and that patients with allergic rhinitis have a three-fold increased risk of asthma compared to subjects without AR (23.8 and 7.5 per cent, respectively). It also showed that asthmatics with comorbid allergic rhinitis had greater severity of disease.


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