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COAG Must Make Combating Severe Allergies A National Priority

AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, has written to the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers urging the Council of Australian Governments// (COAG) to ensure all teachers and childcare workers are trained in recognizing and handling anaphylactic reactions.

Dr Haikerwal said that COAG also should ensure the provision of legal immunity to people who give first aid to children with severe allergic reactions.

'Greater awareness and management of anaphylaxis should be a national priority,' he said.

'Severe allergic reactions can be fatal, as has been tragically demonstrated most recently by the death last month of a Melbourne schoolboy, believed to be from exposure to peanuts.

'But children with this life-threatening condition can be kept safe if the people around them know what to do when an anaphylactic reaction occurs.'

The Victorian Government recently introduced an anaphylaxis kit and legislated to ensure teachers and child carers are trained in handling severe allergic reactions – a move Dr Haikerwal said should be implemented nationally.

'Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has done the right thing – now COAG has the opportunity to implement a quick, easy, inexpensive national policy that will save lives,' Dr Haikerwal said.

Automatic adrenaline injection devices – known as Epipens – are available on the PBS.

'These are significant medications that give children and parents the confidence to lead a more normal life,' said Dr Haikerwal, who has a child with severe allergies.

'All school employees should receive training in how to deal with anaphylactic reactions, including the administration of Epipens, and they should be legally protected when they use these devices in an emergency.'

National guidelines should include:

  • Mandatory training for all staff in schools, preschools, and child care facilities
  • Treatment plans for all children who have a medical condition predisposing them to a medical emergency
  • Pre-authorization of school staff to administer medication if necessary
  • Protection for employees who administer medication in the belief it is a medical emergency


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