Last Wednesday, October 20, 2021, members of the Asia Pacific Consortium on Osteoporosis (APCO) celebrated World Osteoporosis Day. This annual global campaign coordinated by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) with a history going back a quarter of a century, strives to raise much needed awareness for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and fragility fractures.
Under the WOD 2021 overarching theme of ‘Take Action for Bone Health’, we were thrilled to see so many of our APCO members working proactively to place bone health on the medical, policy maker and community agenda. Nowhere is this need more acutely felt than in the Asia Pacific, where over the next two decades, a staggering 319 million people aged 50 years and over are projected to be at high risk of osteoporotic fracture due to the region’s rapidly ageing population, mounting urbanisation, and subsequent increase in sedentary lifestyles. In addition, more than 50 per cent of the world’s hip fractures are expected to occur in this vast and heterogenous region, currently home to 4.5 billion people by the year 2050. World Osteoporosis Day provides an excellent platform to shine a light on this crucial topic, and drive subsequent action.
APCO is comprised of experts from multiple countries and they represent the magnificent cultural and geographic diverse make up of the Asia Pacific. To learn how APCO as an organization marked World Osteoporosis Day and its members from Australia, Bangladesh, India, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Singapore celebrated this important occasion on the annual public health calendar, read on!
To mark World Osteoporosis Day, APCO launched a world-first, interactive, educational osteoporosis resource – The APCO Health Care Professional (HCP) Peer to Peer Educational Modules – to relevant stakeholders and media throughout the Asia Pacific. The Education Modules offer physicians a comprehensive, evidence-based resource encouraging widescale implementation of the minimum clinical standards of care for osteoporosis advocated in The APCO Framework. It contains 17 modules – one module for each of the 16 APCO Framework Clinical Standards and one module on recently emerging themes in osteoporosis care.
There’s Nothing Like Australia!
Healthy Bones Australia (formerly Osteoporosis Australia) released the second edition of their ‘Know Your Bones Community Risk Report’ on World Osteoporosis Day via a national media campaign, highlighting the care gap involving individuals with known risk factors for osteoporosis, and the alarming under-investigation and under-treatment of those at risk. The media campaign called for earlier investigation and treatment to capture all adults with risk factors for poor bone health, and adults post- fracture. Healthy Bones Australia plans to share the report with the Australian Health Minister and the Department of Health, to reinforce the need for ongoing action to make bone health a higher priority.
The new report summarised data from the more than 88,000 Australian completions of Know Your Bones to date – a consumer, online self-assessment tool developed by Healthy Bones Australia in partnership with the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.
“Research has demonstrated specific risk factors increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, including certain medical conditions, medications and lifestyle factors. Early diagnosis and management can protect bone health,” said APCO Executive Committee Member and Healthy Bones Australia CEO, Mr Greg Lyubomirsky, Sydney, Australia.
To celebrate World Osteoporosis Day, APCO Member and Chairman, Department of Rheumatology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Professor Minhaj Rahim Choudhury, Dhaka, Bangladesh, organised a university campus rally attended by 30 people due to COVID-19 restrictions, followed by an inaugural scientific program on osteoporosis. Held in a large auditorium, the scientific program attracted 250 participants, including doctors, residents and nurses. The program covered various ‘hurdles and the dilemma presented by the diagnosis of osteoporosis’, and the ‘management of osteoporosis’. Each speaker presented for 30 minutes, followed by a five-person multidisciplinary panel discussion involving two rheumatologists, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, an internal medicine specialist and an orthopaedic surgeon, and a final Q&A session.
“It was a very vibrant inaugural scientific session staged to mark World Osteoporosis Day,” said Prof Choudhury.
APCO Executive Committee Member and Head, Department of Endocrinology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Professor Sanjay Kumar Bhadada, Chandigarh, India, together with his medical team, partnered with Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) on World Osteoporosis Day, to perform BMD testing of 150 patients over 60 years of age using a mobile Hologic DEXA van.
Importantly, in a bid to further strengthen stakeholder collaboration in the bone health field in India, Prof Bhadada’s Department of Endocrinology also announced their development of the country’s first, national Osteoporosis Registry of India (ORI).
The Japan Osteoporosis Foundation coordinated three events in three cities in Japan to mark World Osteoporosis Day, including:
Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture)
Digital signage (including video distribution), illumination of the Kanazawa Station Tsuzumi-mon Gate in blue, and a giant banner positioned prominently at Kanazawa Central railway station, Kanazawa (north-western Japan).
Matsumoto (Nagano Prefecture)
Illumination of the revered national icon, Matsumoto Castle, in Matsumoto (central Honshu, Japan) in blue, and an educational lecture for members of the Matsumoto community.
Kure (Hiroshima Prefecture)
An educational osteoporosis program was held in Kure, located on the Seto Inland Sea, south-western Honshu, Japan, comprising four educational lectures titled ‘Risk and countermeasures for fractures in Corona’; ‘Efforts to prevent the aggravation of osteoporosis in Kure City’, ‘Effective exercises to prevent fractures’; and ‘A recipe to strengthen bones’. A series of supporting event booths offered members of the community complementary oral care consultations from Kure City Dental Association representatives, drug consultations from Kure City Pharmacy Association representatives, and bone mineral density (BMD) measurements and bone health consultations from public health nurses. Each of the booths were further flanked by a health foods and supplements exhibition.
To further maximise awareness of World Osteoporosis Day, the outdoor maritime exhibition involving the battleship Matsu at Yomato Museum, and the outdoor exhibition featuring the submarine Akishio at Tetsu no Kujirakan, were also both illuminated in blue.
Malaysia Truly Asia
Coinciding with World Osteoporosis Day, The Bone Health Alliance Malaysia (BHAM) released the findings from their bone health and osteoporosis survey, which assessed the awareness, knowledge, and lifestyle habits of Malaysians. The survey sought to raise public awareness of bone health; to counter the misconception that osteoporosis is part of the natural ageing process, and cannot be prevented, or treated; and to educate Malaysians on how to best maintain healthy bones.
Harnessing the survey findings, BHAM announced the launch of ‘Love Your Bones’ – a virtual campaign designed to educate patients, caregivers, and those at high-risk on how to best care for their bones throughout all stages of life; to dispel common misconceptions about bone health; to raise community interest in osteoporosis; and heighten recognition of the disease as a national health priority.
“Osteoporosis affects men and women, but women are at increased risk due to lower level of hormones in menopause, with at least one in three women over 50 years experiencing osteoporotic fractures at some stage during their lives,” said Dato’ Dr Lee Joon Kiong, APCO Member, President of the Fragility Fracture Network Malaysia, and Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Beacon Hospital, Selangor, Malaysia.
“It is important to educate the public on the role of lifestyle modifications through proper nutritional intake and staying active to ensure good bone health, especially women and older people.”
It’s Beautiful, It’s Pakistan
Given the multitude of challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, causing significant physical and mental stress and fatigue, and compromising posture, stamina, immunity and bone health, the Bone and Mineral Disease Research Group at Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan, chose to stage a fun and educational ‘physical event’ this year to mark World Osteoporosis Day. Conducted pool-side at AKU’s Sports and Rehabilitation Centre, the open air event involving yoga and Zumba, attracted many participants who relaxed, laughed and danced the night away. “Being able to let loose after a long day of work in an enjoyable activity with other people did wonders for all involved who have been deprived of such interaction during COVID,” said APCO Executive Committee Member and Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Aga Khan University Hospital, Dr. Aysha Habib Khan, Pakistan.
The event concluded with a brief speech on the International Osteoporosis Foundation’s (IOF) five principles of preventing osteoporosis, and the offer of a “lassi” – a traditional, calcium-rich beverage made from yoghurt and milk.
“Our session closely followed the theme ‘Love your bones and protect your future’ by encouraging people to take charge of their health, and to take timeout from their busy schedules to exercise and decompress.
“The event spoke for itself and got people to take their bone health seriously in a fun, interactive manner,” Dr. Habib Khan said.
Its More Fun in the Philippines!
On October 22, 2021, The Department of Orthopedics and the Multidisciplinary Orthogeriatric-Fracture Liaison Service hosted the University of the Philippines ‘Philippine General Hospital annual World Osteoporosis Day webinar’, titled ‘Multidisciplinary fragility fracture and osteoporosis care: engaging the university, the family and the community’.
The webinar reinforced the importance of bone health for all members of the community, which involves all members of the family caring for their bone health, and effectively managing the bone health of the elderly. The webinar further explored how, through community medicine, the University of the Philippines can help promote bone health, nation-wide.
In addition, the Osteoporosis Society of the Philippines Foundation Inc. partnered with the Philippine Alliance For Bone Health and Osteoporosis Prevention, to host a World Osteoporosis ‘virtual’ celebration on Sunday, October 24 via a Facebook live event. Targeting those aged 50 years and over, the event strove to educate this demographic on how to take care of their bones, and provided information on osteoporosis.
Passion Made Possible in Singapore
To commemorate World Osteoporosis Day this year, the Osteoporosis and Bone Metabolism Unit at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) organised with passion and gusto, a virtual public forum on osteoporosis titled ‘Stop osteoporosis in its tracks’ on October 16, 2021. It was the 14th year that the forum, a much-anticipated event by the Singaporean community, was conducted by the dynamic Unit – the oldest and only one of its kind in Singapore dedicated to clinical care and research in osteoporosis and other disorders of bone metabolism. Filmed on site and live streamed, the forum attracted a substantial 1,250 Zoom participants and another 2,2200 views on Facebook.
After a general introduction by Associate Consultant, Dr Ann Kwee, an entertaining lecture on osteoporosis was presented by APCO Chairperson, IOF Board Member, and Director of the Osteoporosis and Bone Metabolism Unit, Singapore General Hospital, Professor Manju Chandran.
Physiotherapist, Dr Cindy Ng, followed with an enlightening session on the role of exercise in osteoporosis. Yoga therapist, Ms Abha Baja, next provided a wonderful educational talk and demonstration of the safe practice of the ancient discipline of yoga, to help prevent injury and fractures in those with osteoporosis.
Next, Senior Endocrinology Resident, Dr Sarah Tan, interviewed a remarkable 83-year young, retired school teacher living with osteoporosis, Mrs Lohambal Rajakrishnan, who has not let her disease beat her. Virtual event participants were then invited to join dancer, Ms Sneha Yadav, in an energetic, foot-tapping Zumba session in their respective homes. The event concluded with a Q&A session moderated by the unit’s two osteoporosis nurses, Huang Xiao Feng and Liu Xiao Ming. To watch the recording of the fun, educational event, click here.
Prior to the public forum, Prof Manju Chandran was interviewed on October 14 by Daniel Martin on the regional news channel broadcast out of Singapore, CNA 938 Health Matters, on Osteoporosis the Silent Disease. To watch a snippet of the interview, please head to: https://www.facebook.com/CNA938/videos/345393687362714
International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF)
This year, under the ‘Take Action For Bone Health’ banner, the IOF continued to promote global advocacy and support the national campaigns of its more than 265 member societies. The revamped World Osteoporosis Day website hosted many new multi-lingual resources, including posters, infographics, and social media banners, that were widely shared throughout the world. The campaign attracted immense global interest, securing a phenomenal 10,000+ resource downloads, almost 100,000 website page views, and more than 260 events and campaigns listed to date on the global map of World Osteoporosis Day events.
The three key messages at the core of World Osteoporosis Day 2021 global campaign echoed consistently throughout the IOF’s global media releases, included:
- Calling on patients to ‘Take action for bone health’, which is more important now than ever due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lifestyle, and restricted access to testing and treatment. This included urging awareness of personal risk factors through the IOF Osteoporosis Risk Check Tool;
- Urging healthcare professionals and policymakers to prioritize secondary fracture prevention, and the implementation of fracture liaison services (FLS), which is essential to:
- Highlighting the burden of osteoporosis and fragility fractures, including through the launch of a new digital patient exhibition ‘Unbreakable’, and the updated IOF Global Patient Charter (soon to be available in multiple languages).
Together, our voices amplify the call to action addressed to individuals, healthcare professionals, and health authorities alike. Together, we can make a difference.