By Chris George
For the past five months, our local group has worked with Niagara MPs to help raise awareness of severe, life-threatening allergies among MPs and the Ottawa bureaucracy. Since May, Niagara-West Glanbrook MP Dean Allison has introduced a motion in the House of Commons and now he is hosting a meeting of his colleagues to discuss what can be done for Canadians who must cope with the medical condition anaphylaxis.
My journey to this Parliament Hill meeting started more than five years ago, when my youngest child (now 7-years old) had two, separate horrible reactions at meal times – and our family ended up at the St. Catharines General Hospital praying he’d be alright. My son was diagnosed with severe allergies to nuts, peanuts and the whole legume family. His subsequent tests through the years have revealed his allergies will likely be with him throughout his life.
Our December meeting with MPs to discuss solutions for anaphylaxis is one step towards ensuring my son, and the thousands of children in Canada like him, have a better quality of life. We trust that MPs and Ottawa officials can get their minds around a thoughtful set of government initiatives that will help raise the public understanding of anaphylaxis, and provide greater safety to the growing segment of the Canadian population dealing with anaphylaxis.
We would like to see government action to raise greater public understanding, promote responsible safety measures, educate people on the signs of a reaction and how to help a person in need – similar to CPR education. We trust a coordinated government approach will lead to reducing risk and to safer environments for those living with life-threatening allergies and to those providing care and services. Our group of families from NASK is now working with hundreds of families across Canada to call for a national awareness effort. When sitting down with the MPs, we will speak about a five-point plan.
1. Federal coordination of programs and services dealing with anaphylaxis
2. Coordinated awareness campaigns – both targeted and general public information initiatives
3. A commitment to research – a strategic response, with more dedicated dollars
4. Standard labelling regulations of foods, cosmetic and personal care products in Canada
5. Transportation safety – airline and train regulations, and awareness re other public transportation Anaphylaxis is a growing concern among Canadians.
The latest statistics: one in 13 Canadians suffer from a serious food allergy. This number would suggest that we all know someone with food allergies and that most of us know someone who is anaphylactic.
If you would like to help in our efforts, please visit the NASK website and learn more about this Canadian awareness campaign: www.nask.ca
Chris George is a resident of St. Catharines, Ontario and a member of NASK
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