Scientific Information

WAO White Book on Allergy
04 May 2011

This is a Full Version of the White Book with the Executive Summary and was released during the recent World Allergy Week 4-10 April 2011.

Allergic Diseases as a Global Public Health Issue

The prevalence of allergic diseases worldwide is rising dramatically in both developed and developing countries.

These diseases include asthma; rhinitis; anaphylaxis; drug, food, and insect allergy; eczema; and urticaria (hives) and angioedema.

This increase is especially problematic in children, who are bearing the greatest burden of the rising trend which has occurred over the last two decades.

In spite of this increase, even in the developed world, services for patients with allergic diseases are fragmented and far from ideal. Very few countries have comprehensive services in this field of medicine.

There are almost no specialized services for patients in many countries, other than care delivered by organ-based specialists such as respiratory physicians, ear, nose and throat specialists (otorhinolaryngologists), and dermatologists. While the care provided in many cases is adequate, such specialists generally view allergy only through their organ of interest, while the vast majority of patients have allergic disease in multiple organs.

For example, allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and asthma are three problems which commonly manifest together, yet affect three different organ systems.

Because the prevalence of allergy has increased to such an extent, allergy must be regarded as a major healthcare problem.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, hundreds of millions of subjects in the world suffer from rhinitis and it is estimated that 300 million have asthma, markedly affecting the quality of life of these individuals and their families, and negatively impacting the socio-economic welfare of society.

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