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Schools better equipped for food allergy cases
Friday, February 23, 2007
Victorian school children at risk of severe allergic reactions will be safer thanks to a new food allergy resource kit launched today by the Minister for Education Services Jacinta Allan.
Australian Medical Association president Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, who has a child with anaphylaxis, joined Ms Allan at Strathmore Primary School to launch the kit, which will be sent to all government, Catholic and independent schools. More than 2300 schools will get the kits free of charge.
The easy-to-understand, plain English Anaphylaxis Guidelines will complement efforts to train Victorian school teachers, kindergarten teachers and child-care workers in the care and support of students with severe allergies and raise awareness of the condition.
â€œAnaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life threatening condition and we want to ensure that students at risk of the condition are safe at school,â€ Ms Allan said.
Dr Haikerwal congratulated the Victorian Government on the initiative.
â€œThis kit will not only help teachers and promote a greater understanding of anaphylaxis and other food allergies â€“ it will save lives,â€ Dr Haikerwal said.
It is estimated that 0.43 per cent of children are at risk of anaphylaxis, with about 17 per cent of episodes occurring at school or pre-school. Peanut allergy affects about one in 100 children and the rate has more than doubled in the past 30 years.
The resource package includes:
Â· a canteen checklist for managing food allergies
Â· awareness raising posters
Â· booklets offering clear and practical information on prevention and response to allergic reactions
Â· anaphylaxis fact sheets, including detailed information for staff
Â· a trainer EpiPen to learn how to administer adrenaline
Ms Allan said allergic reactions to food were sudden, severe and potentially fatal.
â€œA simple adrenalin injection can save a child’s life,â€ Ms Allan said.
â€œWe are giving schools the information they need to not only recognise and respond to the symptoms of an allergic reaction but also implement strategies to prevent food reactions occurring.â€
â€œAll schools have a duty of care to students and the key to managing this condition is awareness, knowledge and planning.â€
Since November 2005, more 8100 staff have attended anaphylaxis management training run by Ambulance Victoria First Aid.
In October last year the Bracks Government announced it would mandate training for child-care workers, kindergarten and school teachers to treat children with life-theatening allergies.
$2.1 million over five years will be provided to fund state-wide training for teachers and children’s services workers. The Government will legislate to require training for all staff in early childhood services and the majority of staff in schools.
In 2005, the Victorian Government commissioned Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Health and Wellbeing to conduct a comprehensive research project into the incidence and causes of anaphylaxis in Victorian government schools.
That research examined national and international best practice in managing anaphylaxis at school and was used in preparing the guidelines.
The guidelines were developed in consultation with Anaphylaxis Australia, the Australasian Society of Critical Immunology and Allergy, the Royal Children’s Hospital Department of Allergy and Immunology, the Department of Human Services parent groups and school staff.