The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) kicked off World Osteoporosis Day events in Brussels. This year's theme of Stand Tall, Speak Out For Your Bones is a global call to take charge and improve osteoporosis healthcare policies around the world.

Osteoporosis is a disease that can be largely prevented through timely diagnosis and cost effective treatment - in the long run reducing healthcare budgets as well as preventing the suffering imposed by these fractures.

To better evaluate current standards of care across Europe, an EU-wide report, Osteoporosis in the European Union in 2008: Ten years of progress and ongoing challenges was launched, creating a snapshot of osteoporosis management. The Report recognises some improvements: Shorter wait times for bone mineral density testing has been achieved in many countries, resulting in more efficient diagnosis and treatment

A wide range of proven treatments is now available However, ongoing challenges continue: Only 6 of 27 EU governments have declared osteoporosis a healthcare priority

Hip fracture costs have doubled or tripled in several countries over 10 years

More than 40% of EU members states have fewer than the recommended number of bone mineral density scanners

Full reimbursement for these scans is provided in only 9 of 27 member states

Osteoporosis is part of national public health programs in only 10 of 27 countries "Definite progress has been shown in many countries since our 2001 EU report, but there are still major gaps in care that deny many people the opportunity for timely and appropriate management to prevent fractures" said Prof John Kanis, IOF President. "Today we know that without intervention the first fracture is associated with an 86% increased risk of a subsequent fracture (1), yet the great majority of those who do fracture are neither identified as being at high risk nor treated."

As Chair of the EU Osteoporosis Consultation Panel, Prof Juliet Compston urged "scientists, physicians, policymakers, advocates and patients and their families to use the information in this report to identify issues that need attention now. The active support of all EU citizens and their governments is essential if the important goals which remain outstanding are to be realized"

Members of the EU Osteoporosis Consultation Panel, comprised of scientific and health policy experts from all 27 member states who contributed to the report, MEPs who form the European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group, and members of the media heard about other global World Osteoporosis Day campaigns that seek to mobilize stakeholders to Stand Tall, and Speak Out.

Speakers from across Europe joined together for the 3rd IOF Women Leaders Roundtable, sharing their stories and encouragement to citizens of all ages to take control of their life by making healthy lifestyle decisions now that pay huge dividends down the road. Working in partnership with national osteoporosis societies, which exist in every EU member state, can create a coordinated voice for action, influencing governments to listen.

EU Commissioner for Health, Androulla Vassiliou, one of the Roundtable speakers, said that "Healthcare in the EU is complex and challenging. Among the Commission's key priorities in improving healthcare are to foster good health in an ageing Europe; to reduce health inequalities inside the Union; and to support dynamic health systems by encouraging cross-border cooperation and the creation of centres of excellence. Today's meeting is a very positive step in identifying how we achieve these goals".

Other Roundtable participants included: Susan Hampshire, film and theatre actress from the UK

Barbara Miklič Türk, wife of the President of the Republic of Slovenia

Anna Molinari, fashion designer from Italy (regrettably unable to attend due to illness)

Maggie Philbin, Journalist from the UK

Prof Cyrus Cooper, Moderator, IOF Board Member, UK In addition to collaborating with IOF on today's events, the Belgian Bone Club sponsored a Health Village where citizens of Brussels were able to learn more about their bone health by having a bone mineral density test and receiving information on risk factors and the prevention of fractures.

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For more information, we invite you to visit iofbonehealth/

References: (1) Kanis,JA, Johnell O, De Laet C, et al. (2004) A meta-analysis of previous fracture and subsequent fracture risk. Bone 35:375

Osteoporosis, in which the bones become porous and break easily, is one of the world's most common and debilitating diseases. Unfortunately, screening for people at risk is far from being a standard practice. Osteoporosis can, to a certain extent, be prevented, it can be easily diagnosed and effective treatments are available.

The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is the only worldwide organization dedicated to the fight against osteoporosis. It brings together scientists, physicians, patient societies and corporate partners. Working with its 184 member societies in 89 locations, and other healthcare-related organizations around the world, IOF encourages awareness and prevention, early detection and improved treatment of osteoporosis.

Source: Margaret Walker
International Osteoporosis Foundation

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