The West

Alarm as school  allergy training  axed

State Government plans to axe key aspects of a project aimed at improving the management of severe allergic reactions in WA schools have raised fears that children will face a higher risk of death if they suffer an anaphylactic shock.

In a letter to one parent, Education Minister Peter Collier said face-to-face anaphylaxis training by school nurses would be replaced by online learning courses.

Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia WA representative Sandra Vale said she was concerned the training had ended because it had provided teachers with hands-on practice at using EpiPens and Anapens, devices used to inject adrenaline to reverse severe allergic reactions.

The training had been provided under the Anaphylaxis Project, set up to manage the implementation of recommendations from a 2007 report.

Mrs Vale, who represents Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia on a WA Government committee to help schools implement the report's recommendations, said the distribution of EpiPens and Anapens would also cease.

Cottesloe mother Jackie Williams, whose son Art, 4, has an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts, is concerned the funding cuts will increase the risk of death for children with extreme allergic reactions.

Mrs Williams said it did not make sense to drop the ball in the fight against anaphylaxis when 15 per cent of schools had still not had the training and when allergies were becoming more common.

WA Health Department documents say anaphylactic presentations to WA's only tertiary paediatric hospital have increased seven-fold in the past 10 years.

Shadow health minister Roger Cook said many parents would be distressed to hear the project was winding down. "I really can't understand why the Government wants to put kids' lives at risk simply to save a few dollars in the health budget," he said.

Mr Collier said the changes required principals to implement a whole-of-school approach to prevention and management.

'I can't understand why the Government wants to put kids' lives at risk simply to save a few dollars.'"Shadow health minister * Roger Cook *

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The West Australian

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