June 1999 Bulletin

Bone Joint Decade moves into high gear

National Action Committee to be formed in U.S.; 36 nations start networks of medical patient groups

Robert D. D'Ambrosia, MD, AAOS President, left, discusses Bone and Joint Decade with Stuart Weinstein, MD, president of American Orthopaedic Association

Only six months remain before the beginning of the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 and the action has moved into high gear.

Thirty-six nations have formed National Action Networks to coordinate active participation by musculoskeletal care, patient advocacy and industry organizations in their countries. More than 400 organizations and journals have signed declarations to support the Bone and Joint Decade.

Ten nations are expected to officially declare the Decade of the Bone and Joint before the end of this year. President Clinton has been asked to sign a declaration, but no decision is expected until later this year, if then. Sources indicate that the White House has requests to give the designation for other purposes.

A declaration by the United Nations also is being sought, but Decade organizers have no indication when that would occur.

The World Bank may become a partner in the international effort, Robert D. D'Ambrosia, MD, Academy president, said last month at a meeting called by the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force. The Task Force, chaired by Stuart Weinstein, MD, invited musculoskeletal organizations to the meeting to begin organizing the Bone and Joint effort in the United States.

Dr. D'Ambrosia said the World Bank is distressed that 25 percent of the money it gives to developing countries is being used for the treatment of severe injuries resulting from traffic accidents. He informed World Bank representatives that prevention and treat- ment of this trauma is one of the major areas that the Bone and Joint Decade will address.

The global effort is designed to raise awareness of the suffering and cost to society associated with musculoskeletal disorders such as joint diseases, osteoporosis, spinal disorders, severe trauma to the extremities and crippling diseases and deformities in children.

Although the goal of the Bone and Joint Decade is to improve the health-related quality of life for people, it also is a way to ensure that musculoskeletal research gets a share of the finite funding that is available for research, Dr. D'Ambrosia said. Organizers are keenly aware that the Decade of the Brain, declared by former President George Bush in 1990, resulted in millions of dollars in research devoted to neurosciences at universities throughout the nation.

The aging population in the United States, Europe and other countries will result in increased musculoskeletal conditions and disorders and will increase the burden on the financial resources of these countries, Dr. D'Ambrosia said. (See story on Future demand for orthopaedic skills to soar.)

Lars Lidgren MD, professor of orthopaedics, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden, told the Task Force meeting, via an Internet hookup, that forming national networks in each country is crucial to creating partnerships of musculoskeletal care organizations, patient groups, scientific journals, governments and industry. Each participating organization in a country-medical, patient, industry, etc.-is responsible for its own activities to reach the goals of the Bone and Joint Decade, said Dr. Lidgren, who was the primary force in getting the international movement underway in April 1998.

The complexity of pulling it all together was evident as Dr. Weinstein led the meeting of representatives of 20 specialty societies and the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation through intensive discussions of organizational issues, kickoff activities at the Academy's Annual Meeting in March 2000 and methods to evaluate the success of the program. The discussions have set the stage for an organizing meeting of a National Action Committee in September.

Meanwhile, the Decade movement keeps rolling forward. A workshop on "The Burden of Musculoskeletal Conditions at the Start of the New Millennium" will be held by the World Health Organization and the Bone and Joint Decade in Geneva, Switzerland in November. The meeting will focus on the burden of disease, utilizing information gathered by the Bone and Joint Monitor Project (see Academy aids Bone and Joint Decade plans), on health and economic indicators and future actions of the Decade.

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