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Looking back on a year that changed the world, yet had many silver linings

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Reflections on APCO’s highlights and achievements for 2021

 

Throughout 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh heavily on healthcare systems worldwide, creating a gamut of challenges that extended far beyond the impact of the virulent pathogen itself. Despite these challenges, our APCO members persevered and remained resilient, focusing on their commitment to improve osteoporosis outcomes and fulfill our organisation’s mission:

To engage with relevant stakeholders, including healthcare providers, policy makers and the public, to help develop, and implement, country and region-specific programs for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, and its complication of fragility fractures.

Lauded for our engagement of independent osteoporosis experts from different parts of the Asia Pacific, this year, we have continued to expand our membership, and currently have 47 osteoporosis experts representing 20 countries and regions. Our membership growth has armed us with invaluable expertise, enabling us to secure greater stakeholder awareness, and acceptance of osteoporosis as a key public health priority in countries across the vast and heterogenous region that is the Asia Pacific.

Our major highlights and achievements of 2021 include:

The APCO Framework

Representing the first major initiative since our organisation’s inception, APCO members developed ‘The APCO Framework’ – the first pan-Asia Pacific clinical practice standards for the screening, diagnosis, and management of osteoporosis, targeting a broad range of high-risk groups. This set of clear, concise, relevant, and pragmatic clinical standards aims to support national societies, guideline development authorities, and healthcare policy makers with the development of new guidelines, and to encourage the revision of existing guidelines across the Asia Pacific.

Since its publication in Osteoporosis International on January 28, 2021, ‘The APCO Framework’ has attracted extensive attention among healthcare professionals, leading osteoporosis organisations, and more than 300 regional medical and consumer news platforms. We are heartened to see many of our APCO members actively disseminating information about and encouraging implementation of The Framework in their respective countries.

We were invited to contribute to numerous editorial pieces, commentaries and opinion pieces on The APCO Framework in leading peer reviewed and indexed journals, such as The Annals of the Academy of Medicine (Singapore), Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons (Pakistan) and the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism (India), as well as in other journals such as  MJA Insight+ (Australia), NZJM Digest (New Zealand), and the inaugural issue of the Newsletter of the Endocrine Society of India (ESI).

Several osteoporosis guideline development authorities in the Asia Pacific region have now committed to employ the principles advocated in the APCO Framework during the process of developing their own guidelines.

To download or access The APCO Framework, head to www.apcobonehealth.org/apco-framework.

APCO expert video series

To further heighten awareness of The APCO Framework, we launched the APCO expert video series on September 6, 2021, capturing the voices of four key APCO members – Dr Manju Chandran, Singapore, Dr Philippe Halbout, Switzerland, Dr Aysha Habib Khan, Pakistan and Dr Atsushi Suzuki, Japan.

In this video series, each expert reflects on the osteoporosis landscape in their respective country, outlines various efforts underway to address the burden of osteoporosis, and explains how The APCO Framework can be implemented region-wide, to improve the screening, diagnosis, and management of osteoporosis.

To view the expert video series, head to https://apcobonehealth.org/disrupting-the-status-quo-in-osteoporosis-management/#video-series.

APCO HCP Peer to Peer Education Modules

To aid peer-to-peer education among healthcare professionals on The APCO Framework, we developed a comprehensive educational slide kit, titled ‘Implementing the minimum clinical standards of The APCO Framework’ – also known as the APCO HCP Peer-to-Peer Education Modules.

This world-first, interactive, educational osteoporosis resource encourages widescale implementation of the minimum clinical standards of care for osteoporosis, as advocated in ‘The APCO Framework’, and will enable the delivery of best practice osteoporosis care throughout the region.

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.

We have received an overwhelming response to the modules since launch, with requests from all over the world to access the content.

To request access to The APCO Education Modules, head to: www.apcobonehealth.org/apco-education-modules.

World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Disease (WCO-IOF-ESCEO)

In August this year, APCO was invited to stage a virtual booth at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Disease (WCO-IOF-ESCEO), at the Committee of National Societies (CNS) village.

Our virtual booth showcased a plethora of our materials, including:

  • Posters providing an overview of APCO
  • The APCO Framework Infographic
  • A Summary of The APCO Framework
  • Three videos – APCO Executive Committee Chairperson announcing the launch of The APCO Framework; Implementing the APCO Framework in the Asia Pacific (APCO expert video series); and
  • The APCO Framework animation.

Awards and Honours

A highlight of the year for APCO was two of its members winning two of the International Osteoporosis Foundation’s most prestigious awards. The IOF Olof Johnell Science Award, which recognizes a distinguished medical professional and researcher who has an outstanding record of achievements in education, research and policy implementation within the bone and musculoskeletal field, was conferred upon Prof Manju Chandran – APCO Chairperson. Dr Philippe Halbout, CEO of the IOF and Executive Committee Member, clinched The President’s Award – recognising individuals who have made a significant and unstinting contribution to the advancement of the work of the IOF.

The election of APCO Executive Committee Member, Prof Peter Ebeling as the President of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR), representing the first person outside of North America to be elected to this role, was another momentous occasion for APCO.

World Osteoporosis Day 2021

APCO members across the Asia Pacific region celebrated World Osteoporosis Day on October 20, 2021, with gusto. This annual event, which was initiated by the International Osteoporosis Foundation in 1997, serves as a reminder of the importance of increasing awareness of the devastating disease that is osteoporosis.

Under the WOD 2021 overarching theme of ‘Take Action for Bone Health’, we were thrilled to see so many of our APCO members, particularly those from Australia, Bangladesh, India, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Singapore, working proactively to place bone health on the medical, policy maker and community agenda.

The 15th International Federation of Ageing Global Conference

The International Federation of Ageing’s (IFA) 15th Global Conference was held virtually and in person, at Niagara Falls, Canada between 9-12 December, 2021. At this conference, under the overarching theme of “Rights Matter”, APCO Executive Committee Member, Mr Paul Mitchell, and Prof Manju Chandran were invited to speak at the Special Symposium on “A Life Course Approach to Bone Health: From Fragility Fractures to Resilience”, and to take part in the subsequent panel discussion.

The IFA has General Consultative Status at the United Nations and its agencies, and formal working relations with the World Health Organization. The symposium attracted attendees from around the world and helped to focus attention on the work being done in the bone field across the Asia Pacific.

IOF Regional 8th Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Conference

The IOF Regional 8th Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Conference was held virtually between 1-2 December, 2021. This virtual, CME accredited congress showcased breakthrough science, research, and the latest updates on clinical practice.

On day two of the conference, APCO hosted a joint session with the Asia Pacific Fragility Fracture Alliance (APFFA), during which APCO Chairperson, Prof Manju Chandran, Singapore, spoke on ‘Driving policy change to promote best practice in osteoporosis care in Asia Pacific’, and Dato’ Dr Joon Kiong Lee, Malaysia, canvassed the ‘Management of Osteoporosis in the Asia Pacific Region’. We were also invited to stage another virtual booth within the CNS virtual village.

Several of our members contributed to the success of the conference, by leading various discussions and presentations, including Prof Chandran, Dr Philippe Halbout, Dr Greg Lyubomirsky, Prof Derrick Chan, Prof Ambrish Mithal, Dr Tanawat Amphansap and Prof Sarath Lekamwasam.

“Indeed, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, 2021 was the worst of times and the best of times” reflected Prof Chandran.

“Despite the challenging times the world is facing, and through the fight against the virulent enemy in our midst which is the pandemic, we were able to focus much needed attention on non-communicable diseases such as osteoporosis.

“We were able to launch many innovative, ground-breaking initiatives in osteoporosis, expand our APCO membership pool of thought leaders in healthcare, and to speak up for the silent disease,” Prof Chandran said.

“We are looking forward to 2022, in which we have many projects lined up including engaging policy makers and guidelines development authorities in multiple countries in the Asia Pacific to implement The Framework, developing and disseminating pathfinder audit templates, establishing digital educational platforms for the public, and working with external entities to build up communities of good practice.

“Through it all we remain committed to being non-partisan, apolitical and altruistic in our path,” concluded Prof Chandran.

APCO wishes everyone a lovely end to the year and a wonderful, fulfilling and peaceful New Year!

To learn more about APCO, and to stay abreast of the latest osteoporosis news, head to apcobonehealth.org.

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