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America on Brink of Allergy Crisis

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Asthma and other allergic diseases have become more prevalent in the United States in recent years. They affect as many as 50 million people, or more than 20 percent of the population. The incidence of asthma alone has more than tripled over the past 25 years and currently affects more than 22 million Americans.

An allergist-immunologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and other allergic diseases. The allergist is specially trained to identify the allergic and non-allergic factors that trigger asthma and other allergic diseases. Allergists help people treat or prevent their allergy problems. After earning a medical degree, the allergist-immunologist completes a three-year residency training program in either internal medicine or pediatrics. Next the allergist completes two or three more years of study in the field of allergy-immunology in order to prepare for certification by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

In order to increase the number of training programs in the system, the College recommends undertaking a large scale coordinated public-private initiative to fund additional GME positions, and is bringing this to the urgent attention of federal policy makers. The College is taking the lead by funding 20 allergy-immunology 2-year fellowship training positions from 2005-2009 at a total cost of $2 million. However, this is only a beginning.

We at American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology are eager to participate in efforts to find solutions for this pressing problem. It calls for immediate action before patients are put at risk because of a shortage of qualified allergists in their area, Dr. Ein said.


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