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America on Brink of Allergy Crisis

A growing shortage of allergists in the US may soon impact the quality of patient care for asthma and other allergic diseases, according to a report.

Without intervention, the number of allergy-immunology specialists is projected to decline by 7 percent while demand will increase by 35 percent over the next dozen years, said ACAAI President Daniel Ein, M.D.

The decline in the number of qualified allergists-immunologists is primarily due to the decrease in Graduate Medical Education (GME) training programs because of limited federal funding. To cover attrition and keep up with the growing demand, training programs must increase their graduation rate by 120 allergy-immunology physicians each year, Dr. Ein said.

According to the report, titled Allergist Report: America Faces Allergy/Asthma Crisis, current production cannot keep up with demand. Attrition will result in an estimated net loss of 20 allergists annually, while 100 additional allergists per year will be needed to meet the rising demand.

The shortage of allergist-immunologists is part of a developing general shortage of physicians which is more pronounced in some specialties like allergy-immunology and others, said co-author of the report, John E. Moffitt, M.D., professor and vice chairman, Department of Pediatrics, and director of Allergy-Immunology Division in Pediatrics, University of Mississippi School of Medicine, Jackson. Though the shortage of allergists does not presently affect all locations, it is widespread and growing worse.

The report and companion patient brochure are a call to action by health care professionals and patients impacted by allergic diseases. We urge them to call and work with their congressional delegations to develop and support legislation which will increase funding for Graduate Medical Education programs in allergy-immunology so care will be available to those who need it in the future, Dr. Moffitt said. <
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