Teens and young people living with severe food allergies are being encouraged to start a conversation with their peers via a new website that could potentially save their lives.
Federal Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie said the new Coalition Government funded website, www.250k.org.au, was developed under the National Allergy Strategy.
“Around 250,000 young Australians live with severe – and potentially life threatening – allergies,” Minister Gillespie said.
“Managing severe food allergies can be a significant challenge for teens and young adults, particularly in social situations, or when starting new relationships.
“If others are aware of their allergy and what to do, it can potentially save their lives in the event of a severe allergic reaction.”
Minister Gillespie said research had found many young people feel too embarrassed to talk about their allergy with their peers.
“The website operates just like an app, and allows young people to develop their own avatar and use it to talk to their friends or others with severe allergies about their experiences,” Minister Gillespie said.
“It’s a step removed from having a face-to-face conversation that may make them uncomfortable, and the avatars can even be used to show how an EpiPen works, without the person having to demonstrate it themselves.
“There’s also practical information for young people on how they can manage their severe allergy.”
Minister Gillespie also announced that the Coalition Government would provide $1.1 million next financial year for the National Allergy Strategy, to help progress the implementation of allergy prevention strategies.
“This new funding demonstrates our commitment to people living with allergies and the challenges they face,” Minister Gillespie said.
He said the Coalition Government also provided support for management and treatment of allergies.
“There are specific Medicare Benefits Schedule items for subsidised chronic disease management consultations and allied health services, while in 2015-16 we spent $37.2 million under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule on subsidised allergy medications,” Minister Gillespie said.
“We are also investing in allergen research through the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Government’s new Biomedical Translation Fund.
“Other government initiatives to help people to manage severe allergies include allergen information on food labels and guidelines on preventing or managing food allergies in food for infants and in school canteens.”