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Asia Pacific summit leads strategy on bone health crisis

Health Industry Hub | December 12, 2022 |

Leading bone experts from the Asia Pacific convened in Singapore on Saturday for the Asia Pacific Consortium on Osteoporosis (APCO) Scientific Summit, to further their vision of reducing the burden of osteoporosis and fragility fractures for 2023 and beyond, in the world’s most populous and fastest ageing region.

According to APCO Executive Committee Chairperson, Senior Consultant at Department of Endocrinology of Singapore General Hospital, and 2021 International Osteoporosis Foundation Olof Johnell Science Award winner, Professor Manju Chandran, said “A perfect storm of a rise in osteoporosis among Asia Pacific populations is expected to occur due to the region’s rapidly aging population, mounting urbanisation, and subsequent increase in sedentary lifestyles. Unless urgent steps are taken, we will be facing an epidemic of osteoporotic fractures that could have been avoided through appropriate preventive measures, early diagnosis, and treatment.”

“APCO members are charged with developing tangible solutions to the challenges facing osteoporosis management in the world’s most populous, linguistically, and culturally diverse region. Our committed group of 46 osteoporosis experts representing 19 Asia Pacific countries and regions, are confident we can counter these challenges, if armed with support from local governments, policy makers, healthcare providers, philanthropic organisations, pharmaceutical companies, and other stakeholders from both the private and public healthcare sectors throughout the region,” said Dr Chandran.

Osteoporosis – the most common disease – is greatly under-diagnosed, and under-treated in Asia, even among those at highest risk who have already fractured. Concerningly, over the next two decades, a staggering 319 million people aged 50+ from the Asia Pacific are projected to be at high risk of osteoporotic fracture. Moreover, the number of hip fractures are projected to more than double in Asia, from 1.13 million in 2018, to 2.54 million in 2050.

“Singapore – a country where one in five people are 65 years of age – has one of the highest rates of osteoporotic fractures in the world, which is predicted to increase exponentially in the next two decades.5 Urgent action must be therefore, be taken to curb the immense socio-economic and physical impacts posed by the disease, and its complication, fragility fractures,” Dr Chandran said.

APCO Executive Committee member and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Philippe Halbout, Switzerland, explained that the International Osteoporosis Foundation’s (IOF) vision is “a world without fragility fractures, in which healthy mobility is a reality for all.”

He said “Given the Asia Pacific region will face the brunt of osteoporotic fractures over the next few decades, the IOF recognises urgent action is required to stem this tide. It is for this reason, that we continue to lend strong support to APCO – an organisation that in little more than three years, has achieved significant milestones in its fight against the silent disease that is osteoporosis.”

APCO member, Prof Ambrish Mithal, India, shareed similar concerns about the trends impacting musculoskeletal health in the world’s fastest ageing region.

“Low levels of calcium intake and vitamin D, and high levels of smoking, which have a detrimental impact on bone and muscle health, are prevalent in several countries in the region. Striking differences, however, exist including the prevalence of fractures, robustness of healthcare systems, and access to care.

“In 2009 and 2013 respectively, the IOF released status reports (the Asia Pacific Audit) examining the overall patterns of fracture prevalence and osteoporosis care in the region. While progress has been made in several fields over the past decade, concerningly, huge gaps remain. In most countries, osteoporosis is still a low priority, and unfortunately, competes for attention with better understood diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Consequently, bone health attracts little government support and funding,” Prof Mithal said.

He added “The APCO Summit therefore, represented an ideal opportunity for representatives from multiple countries in the Asia Pacific, to come together, to share experiences, and to brainstorm ideas to tackle this monumental, escalating public health issue.”

The Summit was supported by Amgen.


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