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Bone health across Australia. A perspective from Osteoporosis Australia

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis Australia (OA) is a national charity representing over 4 million Australians above the age of 50 years  living with poor bone health. The organisation advocates for early investigation and appropriate management of patients at-risk to reduce overall fracture numbers. Fracture costs account for up to 70% of the overall cost of Osteoporosis in Australia.

OA is a member of the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) and was co-organizer of the 7th IOF Asia Pacific Regional Conference that was hosted by Sydney in 2018.

In late 2019, Osteoporosis Australia and the Australian Government officially launched the 2019 National Strategic Action Plan on Osteoporosis with Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP.  This evidence-based Plan provides a roadmap to improve the prevention, diagnosis and management of osteoporosis nationally. It is a significant step in improving the quality of life for Australians living with poor bone health and focuses on taking a preventative approach to reduce future bone fractures and, to reduce the impact of osteoporosis on the Australian healthcare system.

It is predicted that by the year 2022, Australians will sustain up to 183,000 fragility fractures per annum and the cost of osteoporosis and osteopenia will be as high as $3.84 billion. Hip fractures remain the costliest type of fracture related to osteoporosis. Other types of fractures such as that of the  wrist, spine arm and leg also remain widespread.

The Australian Government has allocated $4 million to support implementation of this plan which focuses on three key priorities:

  1. Increasing osteoporosis awareness and education with a focus on prevention
  2. Improving osteoporosis diagnosis, management and care; and
  3. Data collection, monitoring and strategic research.

OA is responsible for providing national services and evidence-based information to Australia’s community as well as health professionals to improve prevention, early diagnosis and management of poor bone health.  Important current national projects and programs include:

  • Know Your Bones –Self assessment tool developed in partnership with the Garvan Medical Research Institute
  • Piloting the development, implementation and evaluation of an FLS function in GP Practices across Australia
  • Supporting consumers with the provision of a toll free national information helpline
  • National and State-based Burden of Disease Reports
  • Developing clinical guidelines and position statements with Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
  • Establishing online health professional education for Australia’s pharmacists, practice nurses and physiotherapists
  • On-going advocacy to Government and other key stakeholders for bone health to be a higher national priority

Greg Lyubomirsky, CEO Osteoporosis Australia says “The key objective of our organisation is to meet the needs of consumers and patients through our national programs. We are pleased with the progress to date, however this is only the start of the journey and we will continue to work with stakeholders to improve bone health in the community.

Dr Greg Lyubomirsky, CEO-Osteoporosis Australia and APCO Executive Committee Member.

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