October 1998 Bulletin

New century to open with Decade of Bone and Joint

The Decade of the Bone and Joint 2000-2010 will usher in the new century. An international effort by physicians, researchers, medical professional organizations and medical journals will be launched to raise awareness of the suffering and cost to society of musculoskeletal disorders such as joint diseases, osteoporosis, spinal disorders and severe trauma to the extremities. The initiative, which has been endorsed by the Academy, will promote investments in prevention strategies and advanced research and create better treatment and improved quality of life for patients.

The goal is to improve the health-related quality of life for people with musculoskeletal disorders throughout the world. The United Nations will be asked to endorse the Decade of the Bone and Joint.

Representatives from 50 patient and clinical organizations, research societies and the World Health Organization gathered at a consensus meeting in Lund, Sweden in April. Bruce Browner, MD, represented the Academy. The representatives were asked to sign a Declaration of Intent to endorse the effort. The Academy's Board of Directors endorsed the program at its May meeting.

The gathering of health care professionals in Lund heard what most probably already knew-musculoskeletal conditions are among the most frequently occurring medical conditions with substantial influence on health, quality of life and on health care resources. The impact of musculoskeletal conditions on health care systems is likely to magnify as the population of many countries ages.

Examples of the suffering of patients and burden on society included the fact that joint diseases account for half of all chronic conditions in persons ages 65 and older, back pain is the second leading cause of sick leave from work, the number of fragility fractures in the elderly has increased dramatically in the last decade and an estimated 40 percent of all women over age 50 will suffer from a fragility fracture.

The impetus for the meeting was the impact of bone and joint disorders on society, the health care system and the individual, coupled with the awareness that health care resources need to be more efficiently used. The initiative recognizes that around the world, health care systems are facing increasing pressures from rising demand and escalating costs.


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