Press release of the Austrian Society of Allergology and Immunology (ÖGAI)
More experts for Austria’s allergy sufferers
New “specialisation in allergology” can close care gap in the long term
Vienna, October 4, 2021 – Finally: After more than ten years of effort, the interdisciplinary “Specialisation in Allergology” came into force on 1 July 2021, thus implementing a pressing demand of experts working in allergology – a milestone for allergology in Austria and a ray of hope for the numerous allergy sufferers in our country who urgently need expert doctors.
Allergies have become a widespread disease. According to the 2019 Austrian Health Survey, allergic diseases such as hay fever, food allergies, dust mite allergies, and insect venom allergies rank second only to back pain as the most common chronic diseases.1 At least two million people in Austria suffer from allergies – and the trend has been rising steadily for many years. With the continuous increase in the number of people suffering from allergies, the need for specialists who are familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of this disease is naturally growing.
Patients seeking help, especially those in rural areas where there are no specialized outpatient clinics or hospital outpatient departments, often have to take long detours until they reach the right doctor, a correct diagnosis and ultimately adequate treatment. It is not uncommon for several years to pass between the first allergy-related symptoms and the start of treatment. On the one hand, this is due to the carelessness of many of those affected, because allergies are often taken lightly for too long. To a large extent, however, patients simply do not know who the right contact person is for them. Because in Austria there is no specialist for allergology. Until now, allergies have been dealt with by doctors of dermatology, ENT diseases, pulmonary medicine and paediatrics as well as clinical immunologists. However, increasingly fewer physicians deal with the complex and often consultation-intensive specialty – more and more allergy sufferers are thus confronted with fewer and fewer specialists. “This situation is dramatic. Allergies cost patients an enormous amount in terms of quality of life, in some severe cases even their lives, and the healthcare system a great deal of money,” warns Univ.-Prof. Dr. Erika Jensen-Jarolim, President of the Austrian Society for Allergology and Immunology (ÖGAI) of the growing underuse. “Allergies are easily treatable, and their health consequences and high economic costs are therefore avoidable.”
New training provides remedy
For many years, scientific societies have been trying to recruit new doctors with allergological expertise. “To make the specialty of allergology more attractive, there needs to be a
1 Statistics Austria, http://statistik.at/web_de/statistiken/menschen_und_gesellschaft/gesundheit/gesundheitszustand/chronische_krankheiten/index.html
independent and recognised training”, says ÖGAI Vice-President DDr. Wolfram Hötzenecker, MBA. This has now finally become a reality with the new “Specialisation in Allergology”. “After more than ten years of persuasion, the relevance to care was finally recognised and the specialist further training was approved.”
For specialists in the so-called “source specialities” of skin and sexually transmitted diseases, ear, nose and throat medicine, internal medicine and pneumology, paediatrics and adolescent medicine, clinical immunology, internal medicine, occupational medicine and general medicine, specialisation will in future be possible in the form of 18-month further training. “We have achieved that allergology, which was previously fragmented among many subjects, has been brought to life with an interdisciplinary specialisation,” says Hötzenecker and emphasises: “The new further training is an urgently needed step. Not least in order not to miss the international connection. In various European countries, a specialist or specialisation in allergology has already existed for years. Austria was a latecomer here.”
The driving force was the ÖGAI, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, in close cooperation with the AG Allergologie, the working group of the Fachgesellschaft für Dermatologie (Society for Dermatology) specialized in allergies. The scientific societies of ENT, pulmonary and paediatric specialists as well as general practitioners also actively support the new specialisation. Specialist knowledge, experience and skills can be credited and doctors who can already demonstrate the necessary qualifications and experience have been able to apply for recognition since 1 July. “These specialists then join together in training associations and submit their concept to an expert commission. If the assessment is positive, the commission makes a recommendation to the Austrian Medical Association. If this also gives the green light, the training of doctors can begin,” explains Hötzenecker. “We expect this to be the case from March 2022.”
Link tip www.oegai.org: More on the new training “Specialization in Allergology”, opinions & recommendations on Corona vaccination and allergies as well as immunodeficiencies and SARS-CoV-2 infection, patient information and much more.
About the ÖGAI
The Austrian Society of Allergology and Immunology (ÖGAI) unites Austrian allergists and immunologists from science and medicine. In the current pandemic, their specific expertise is more important than ever. The professional society is competent in allergies, autoimmune diseases, immunodeficiencies, infectious diseases, vaccinations as well as tumor diseases and improves the lives of patients with allergies and immune diseases. The ÖGAI is networked worldwide with the international societies for allergology and immunology. In 2021, the company will celebrate its 50th anniversary. More at www.oegai.org
Contact for journalists:
Prof. DDr. Wolfram Hötzenecker, MBA
Vice President of the Austrian Society for Allergology and Immunology (ÖGAI)
T: 05 / 76808-34100
Prof. Dr. Erika Jensen-Jarolim
President of the Austrian Society for Allergology and Immunology (ÖGAI)
T: 01 / 40400-51100
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Prof. DDr. Wolfram Hötzenecker, MBA: © Kepleruniklinikum/Margit Berger, reprint free of charge
Prof. Dr. Erika Jensen-Jarolim: © MeduniWien/Felicitas Matern, reprint free of charge
Photos in print quality are available from Elisabeth Leeb and in the press section at https://oegai.org/presse/.