Tytöt ratsailla


Finnish Allergy Programme 2008-2018

The prevalence of allergic diseases has grown in Finland. Although the origin of allergy remains unresolved, increasing body of evidence indicates that the modern man living in urban built environment is deprived from environmental protective factors (e.g. soil microorganisms) that are fundamental for normal tolerance development. The current dogma of allergen avoidance has not proved effective in halting the ‘epidemic’, and it is the Finnish consensus that restoring and strengthening tolerance should more be in focus.

The national 10-year programme is aimed to reduce burden of allergies. The main goals are to (i) prevent the development of allergic symptoms; (ii) increase tolerance against allergens; (iii) improve the diagnostics; (iv) decrease work-related allergies; (v) allocate resources to manage and prevent exacerbations of severe allergies and (vi) decrease costs caused by allergic diseases.

The Finnish initiative is a comprehensive plan to reduce burden of allergies. The aim is to increase immunological tolerance and change attitudes to support health instead of medicalizing common and mild allergy symptoms. It is time to act, when allergic individuals are becoming a majority of western populations and their numbers are in rapid increase worldwide. The Programme is associated with the Global Alliance of Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD), WHO.

National collaborators in the Allergy Programme are the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the National Public Health Institute, the Social Insurance Institution, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the Associations of Finnish Pharmacies, specialist associations, the Finnish Lung Health Association FILHA and the patient organizations, the Allergy and Asthma Federation, the Pulmonary Association HELI and the Finnish Central Organisation for Skin Patients. The last three nongovernmental organizations are responsible for the implementation of the programme. While FILHA operates among the professionals in the health care, the patient organizations inform the public using, for example, these web pages.