Updated 04 July 2014

Severe allergies register launched

The National Register of Severe Allergies and Anaphylaxis was launched this week to co-inside with World Allergy Week and is a collaboration between the Red Cross Children’s Hospital and the Allergy Society of South Africa (ALLSA).

Globally, 220-250 million people may suffer from food allergy and the occurrence of food allergies continues to rise in both developed and developing countries, especially in children. This year, ALLSA utilized World Allergy Week to highlight the need for greater awareness and understanding of food allergy and anaphylaxis order to address a variety of safety and quality-of-life issues related to the care of patients with severe food allergies.

Severe cases of food allergy are defined as reactions that lead to the person contacting a doctor within 24 hours. Doctors and patients in South Africa are encouraged to report serious food allergy reactions to the Register.

Why is it important to report allergic reactions?

Our knowledge of food allergy is lacking. It is believed that 2-3% of the adult population has symptoms caused by food allergy. Five to ten times as many people experience symptoms they believe are caused by a food allergy, but a diagnosis has not been verified. The incidence is higher in children, perhaps 6-8%. Symptoms are diverse, ranging from mild discomfort to potentially fatal anaphylactic reactions.

“The national reporting system and registry for severe reactions to foods will help us gain a better overview of the extent and severity of food allergies and thus provide a basis for improving care for people who have food allergy, “says Professor Mike Levin; Head of the division of allergy in the department of Paediatrics at Red Cross Children’s Hospital.

World Allergy Week 8 – 14 April is an annual initiative of the World Allergy Organization (WAO), together with its Member Societies such as ALLSA, to raise awareness of allergic disease and related disorders and advocate for the provision of training and resources in the diagnosis, management, and prevention of allergic diseases which are rising in prevalence around the world.

According to Professor Mike Levin, “South Africa, like the many countries around the world has to address the lack of awareness of food allergies, lack of access to specialised doctors with skills in food allergies, limited access to adrenaline auto injectors particularly in the government sectors, and rational ways of dealing with safety of children with severe allergies in schools – we believe the new National Register will assist us in moving closer to achieving these objectives.”

To register on the National Register of Severe Allergies and Anaphylaxis go to and click on for patients.

(ALLSA press release)

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Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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