Asia Pacific must prepare for catastrophic increase in fragility fractures

December 11, 2013

A new report launched today by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) shows that osteoporosis is a serious problem throughout the Asia Pacific, with the number of fracture sufferers to rise dramatically in the coming decades. By 2050, more than half of the world's hip fractures will occur in Asia. The press conference kicked off the IOF Regionals 4th Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting, being held in Hong Kong from December 12.

The IOF Asia-Pacific Regional Audit provides new and updated information about the status of osteoporosis in the region. In addition to the 14 countries in the 2009 version, it now includes Australia and New Zealand, giving more comprehensive coverage of this geographical area. What is alarmingly clear is that some of the projections made in 2009 clearly underestimated the disease burden and the situation will dramatically worsen if immediate action is not taken.

Asia is ageing rapidly and life expectancy increasing. By 2050 nearly all 16 countries included in this Audit will have at least one-third of their population aged over 50 years, and 5 countries will have at least half of their population aged over 50 years. This is the age group most at risk of osteoporosis. India, for example, will see a 416% rise by 2050, when 620 million (33%) of the population will be aged over 50. In China, more than 636 million people will be aged 50 or over, corresponding to a 78% increase from 2013 to 2050.

Even more alarming is that the majority of the countries represented in the Audit can expect a doubling, if not a tripling, of their populations aged 70 years or over. This is the age group at highest risk of hip fractures, the most serious in terms of disability and premature death. They are also the most costly fractures, requiring surgery, after-care and rehabilitation.

"Altogether, more than 606 million people will be aged over 70 in the Asia-Pacific by 2050 - a 230% increase from 2013. It is evident that prevention efforts and health-care resources must target age-related chronic diseases such as osteoporosis. Without effective prevention strategies, we can expect an enormous increase in fractures which will place a heavy burden on communities and on health-care budgets", said Professor Peter Ebeling, co-author of the report and IOF Board Member.

Additional findings include: The report reveals some welcome advances in the region, including wide availability of the FRAX tool and management guidelines, and increased efforts in health professional training. A notable development is also China's recent designation of osteoporosis as a national health priority, joining Australia, Chinese Taipei and Singapore as the only other countries in the region to do so.

Professor John A. Kanis, President, IOF, speaking at the Audit launch commented, "Despite the enormous and growing burden of fragility fractures, osteoporosis is being dangerously ignored as it competes with other diseases for scarce health-care resources and recognition. The disease remains greatly under-diagnosed and under-treated, and health professional training and service provision is suboptimal in many countries of the Asia Pacific. The result is premature death for many hip fracture sufferers, immense personal suffering, lost productivity and long-term dependence on family members".

He added, "IOF joins local osteoporosis societies throughout the region to urge concerted action to help prevent the rising tide of fractures and their profound socio-economic impact on millions of people and communities throughout the region".
Notes to Editors

Access the report:

Production of the Audit was supported by unrestricted educational grants from GSK, Fonterra and Servier.

About IOF

The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is the world's largest nongovernmental organization dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and related musculoskeletal diseases. IOF leads World Osteoporosis Day marked on October 20 each year. IOF members, including committees of scientific researchers, leading companies, as well as more than 200 patient, medical and research societies, work together to make bone, joint and muscle health a worldwide heath care priority.;;

International Osteoporosis Foundation

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