Call for multi-stakeholder collaboration to tackle bone breaks

Experts called today for a coordinated approach involving a range of stakeholders to curtail the growing epidemic of fragility fractures and osteoporosis and their devastating impact across Asia-Pacific.

According to an Amgen-sponsored report issued by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) at a Hong Kong meeting today, despite their longer life expectancies, many seniors are not enjoying ‘quality of life’, surrendering their independence to premature confinement in aged care facilities.

Concerningly, approximately one in four patients who sustain a fragility fracture die within a year, and less than half of those who survive, regain their previous levels of function. Between 10 and 20 percent of people who sustain a hip fracture will be admitted to a care home in the year following fracture.

The EIU Demystifying Ageing: Lifting the Burden of Fragility Fractures and Osteoporosis in Asia Pacific report cites fragility fractures and their underlying, chronic cause, osteoporosis, as a major public health challenge in the region. These conditions pose a significant resource and cost burden on health systems and economies – an average 19 per cent of GDP per capita.

Importantly, the report, which involved eight study economies – Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand – stressed brittle bones and fragility fractures are not a natural process of aging, but rather, a disease that is both preventable, and treatable.

By 2050, estimates suggest half of the world’s hip fractures will occur in Asia, the world’s fastest aging region. Once a person sustains a fragility fracture, their risk of further fracture increases up to 10-fold. Yet, nearly 80 per cent of those who experience fragility fractures remain undiagnosed and untreated for osteoporosis.

Awareness of, and attention to, fragility fractures and osteoporosis was inconsistent among the eight economies studied. Despite the availability of proven interventions and proven care models, such as Fracture Liaison Services (FLS) and medical treatments, post-fragility fracture treatment for osteoporosis was described as the exception rather than the rule.

“Fractures are not just broken bones – they’re a precursor to future breaks and further disability,” said Prof Peter Ebeling, medical director of Osteoporosis Australia, board member, International Osteoporosis Foundation and Head, Department of Medicine, School of Clinical Sciences, Monash Health, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Australia.

“We must work together, across disciplines in Asia Pacific, to prioritise fracture prevention and initiate systematic, long-term treatment plans for those with broken bones.

“If we don’t act now, the region will be the epicentre of broken bones due to osteoporosis by 2050,” Prof Ebeling said.

The report reinforced the need for a holistic, multi-faceted, consistent and coordinated regional care approach, focusing on improved awareness, education and fracture prevention.

“Our report calls for a comprehensive policy framework led by a regional, multi-stakeholder alliance of governments, healthcare professionals, patient groups and NGOs,” said Charles Goddard, editorial director, Asia Pacific, The Economist Intelligence Unit.

“Only through this multi-faceted approach will we be able to deliver coherent, coordinated patient-centric care.”

Report sponsor and Amgen Regional Vice President and General Manager, Japan Asia Pacific (JAPAC), Penny Wan, also voiced her support for prompt multi-stakeholder action, citing “As a leader in bone health, Amgen supports collaborations with like-minded stakeholders that can drive systematic change in the management and prevention of fragility fractures.”

Read the Demystifying Ageing: Lifting the Burden of Fragility Fractures and Osteoporosis in Asia Pacific report here:

View the Demystifying Ageing infographic here

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