October 1999 Bulletin

Bone and Joint Decade action builds rapidly

It's three-months to launch day of the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 and the activity is building fast.

Fourteen nations have joined an international effort to improve prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders through medical research by declaring the first decade of the new century as the Bone and Joint Decade.

Thirty-six countries have National Action Networks to coordinate participation by musculoskeletal care, patient and industry organizations in their countries. More than 400 organizations and journals worldwide have endorsed the Bone and Joint Decade initiative.

Last month, the Academy's Bone and Joint Task Force sponsored a meeting of 18 organizations in Washington, D.C. to help organize a National Action Network in the United States.

On Oct. 5, the Academy's Council on Research and Scientific Affairs, in conjunction with its Bone and Joint Task Force, will conduct a multispecialty conference to discuss various ways of measuring the burden of musculoskeletal conditions and to discuss data collection efforts of the Bone and Joint Decade Monitor Project. The "monitor project" is collecting data on the burden of musculoskeletal disease-the prevalence, incidence and outcome-from nations throughout the world.

The conference also will build a consensus on how to measure the burden of disease and to develop a national action plan for gathering the data.

One objective of the Bone and Joint Decade is to make sure that in an era of tightening resources for research, musculoskeletal research is not ignored. Musculoskeletal conditions generally are not fatal and have received less attention from policymakers, the media and the public than heart disease, cancer and AIDs. Yet, musculoskeletal conditions are among the most common diseases and, in some respects, have greater impact on the population than some of the high-visibility diseases.

The Academy's newly published Musculoskeletal Conditions in the United States (second edition) contains convincing statistics about the incidence and impact of these conditions. In the United States alone various musculoskeletal conditions and injuries are among the top causes of hospitalizations, visits to physicians, disability and lost workdays. Musculoskeletal conditions cost the United States economy more than $215 billion a year and the bill is rising.

The Academy is encouraging orthopaedic surgeons to urge President Clinton to declare the Bone and Joint Decade in the United States. The proclamation would send a message to federal agencies that research in musculoskeletal conditions has a high priority.

Bone and Joint Decade proclamations have been approved by Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Iran, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Tanzania and United Kingdom.

The Bone and Joint Decade officially will be launched at a meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Jan. 13, 2000 in Geneva, Switzerland. A workshop by WHO and the Bone and Joint Monitor Project on the following two days will focus on the burden, indicators and outcome measurements of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries.

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