Kigali : Experts discuss rise in allergy rates
Allergy experts from over 25 French-speaking countries, shed light on the increasing prevalence of allergies and their potential causes.
It was presented on October 19, 2023 at the annual conference known as the “Journées Francophone d’Allergologie” (JFA) which brings together allergists and physicians from the French-speaking countries.
The Federation ANAFORCAL Internationale is made up of all national ANAFORCALs and currently brings together 25 French- speaking national associations including Rwanda (ANAFORCAL Rwanda). The later has joined the FAI to be an active member since 2016 and is one of 25 of its board of directors.
The Purpose of this association (FAI) is to promote, develop and coordinate the activities of allergology training and Initial and Continuing Medical Training in the French-speaking European and African countries and Madagascar; and thus to contribute, through its action, to improving the quality of care provided to the population and to professional promotion of doctors in the field of allergy diseases.
Col. Dr. Kagimbana Jean Chrisostome, a doctor at the Rwanda Military Hospital, says that allergy in Rwanda it appears especially in the treatment of skin and respiratory diseases.
Col Dr Kagimbana said that out of the 20 patients he receives for skin diseases every day at the Rwanda Military Hospital, at least five of them have allergies.
He said: “Here in Rwanda we are not comfortable because this disease ranks fourth in the world, so new things are done and changes in weather are among the causes of ‘allergy’.
He said that if there was no strengthening of protection in Rwanda and people participate in screening and early treatment, this disease in the year 2050 would have worsened.
He said, “Allergies are often a series or what they often call family, so prevention requires first knowing the disease you are suffering from, and getting diagnosed because there are diagnostic methods and people are quick to listen to advice on how to avoid it.”
Frolence Hacard, allergy experts from France noted that there have been three allergy waves over the past century, hay fever, paediatric asthma, and food allergies, in that order.
She explained that certain factors may be contributing to the increase in allergies, such as high hygiene standards, changes in agricultural techniques, climate change, air pollution, and the increased consumption of processed foods.
Florence explained that when it comes to detecting allergies, it is essential to keep track of the symptoms, their intensity and prevalence, and in which context they occur.
She states that if more than one symptom occurs after eating something, it may be anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that needs immediate medical attention.
In terms of the most common allergy symptoms, Frolence distinguished between respiratory allergies, which include itchiness, sneezing, stinging eyes, and trouble breathing, and food allergies, which include itching or stinging in the mouth, stomach pain, diarrhoea, and often skin problems.
Both allergy types can escalate into asthma or anaphylaxis, and moderate to severe allergy sufferers should seek medical attention.
The experts advised that all ingredients, including those in cosmetics and other products, should be tested to see if they disrupt the epithelial barrier.
These barriers in the skin, gut, and lungs provide physical protection from environmental challenges. If they are disrupted, allergens and other molecules can enter the body more easily, eliciting immune responses and triggering chronic inflammatory diseases.
The experts also differentiated between intolerances and allergies, noting that intolerances do not involve the immune system, and a person with a specific intolerance may just be lacking an enzyme to break down a specific substance. Allergy symptoms involve changes in the immune system changes, and in some cases, can go away as the immune system develops and changes.
The experts emphasized the importance of seeking medical attention when symptoms occur and increasing awareness of allergies and their potential causes. They also called for more research into the long-term effects of substances used in food and other products.
THE RWANDA SUN