Last week the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) conducted three days of diagnostic tests for allergies in the European Parliament. In total 350 people took the opportunity to be examined for sensitivity to the most common allergens and to be given an expert advice, and 47% of them tested positively.
Among the 150 million Europeans affected by allergic diseases, approximately one fifth are affected by severe, debilitating diseases, but these are neglected as a public health concern. Around 50% of allergies sufferers are undiagnosed, and others often have to wait a considerable time before a diagnosis becomes available.
The event was organised with the sponsorship of Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu MEP and the tests were conducted by a medical team led by Professor Peter Hellings, Professor at the Catholic University of Leuven and Clinic Head at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology of the University Hospitals Leuven.
Professor Nikos Papadopoulos, the President of EAACI, said: "We knew that allergies are a major health issue but frankly we have been overwhelmed by the interest of people from the European Parliament. It demonstrates the burden of allergy and that it is not sufficiently recognised." Professor Antonella Muraro, Secretary General of EAACI added: "There is a need to acknowledge the increasing demand and to improve allergy services across European countries."
Professor Peter Hellings said: "My team and I conducted diagnostic tests and provided advice non-stop on each of the three days. Some of the participants had quite severe symptoms. A first step towards helping patients with allergy should be to provide them with easier access to diagnosis."
Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu MEP said: "I am very happy that together with EAACI we have managed to facilitate an allergy test for a considerable number of people in the European Parliament. This common chronic disease has a serious impact on people's lives, and I urge Member States to develop adequate national allergy programmes."
EAACI therefore urges those MEPs who have not already done so to sign the Written Declaration on Recognising the Burden of Allergic Disease before it closes on 21st January.
Information on the Written Declaration can be found at: http://www.eaaci.org/activities/written-declaration-on-allergies.html