Junior Members News - August 2013

Recognition of Allergy Specialty in Europe

            At present, Allergy and Clinical Immunology (ACI) is one of the fields of medicine that underwent most significant scientific development, and allergists are the specialists who have the professional and specific education to face clinical issues related to immune system. Besides that, a large number of diagnostic in vivo and in vitro techniques require specific methodological competences for their performance and interpretation, and several treatments as vaccines or immunomodifiers require a good understanding of the function and manipulation of the immune system.

            At the same time, ACI plays an additional task as educational activities, monitoring environment and a consulting and advisory role to others specialities.

            There are many areas to be covered by ACI units as allergic diseases, autoimmune diseases, immunodeficiencies, malignancies, transplantation, etc. but it depends on the National Health Service and, in many cases, on every hospital.

            ACI is part of the core curriculum of undergraduate students in Medicine in all European Countries. After de 6 years of medical school and to perform the access exam to specialty, in most of countries which recognition of ACI the period of training lasts between 4 and 5 years with a final thesis, final exam or continuous evaluation after the period. However, in different countries ACI has different situations, since in countries without recognition there is only a kind of capacitation of 1 or 2 years.

            According to WAO data the number of allergists per head of population varies considerably, but in many cases an allergist is not an allergist. In Germany, for example, it is frequently a dermatologist and in Spain it is really an allergist. In countries as Italy, Portugal, Spain, Germany or Sweden there is a very good rate of allergists per head of population in contrast to United Kingdom, Belgium, France or Turkey in which the rate is very low.

            For all above, ACI shall have more homogeneous recognition as speciality all over the world. In Europe, from 22 countries of European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) only in 50% ACI is recognized as a full speciality, in 22% is a subspecialty and in 27% has no recognition.

            To resume, ACI is a young specialty which a fast development and for that its specialization should be implement all over Europe and over the world. There is a low ratio of allergists per population in some countries and perhaps an unified criteria in ACI training should allow an easier recognition of our specialty.

 

Virgina Bellido-Linares

Allergy Unit of Macarena Hospital, Seville, Spain