Osteoporosis rate nearing those of Western countries; international foundation opening regional office here
IN 1998, 1,300 people here fractured their hips. Their hospital bills and care for the first year cost a total of US$10 million.
By 2050, the number of hip fractures is expected to hit 9,000 annually, and cost US$83 million (S$112 million) to treat. This excludes indirect costs such as loss of work or the need for caregivers.
The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) said the rate of osteoporosis in Singapore is approaching those of Western countries.
The Swiss-based not-for-profit foundation last year published an Asian audit that looked at the incidence and increase in osteoporosis and related problems in 14 Asian countries.
It concluded that by 2050, more than half of the hip fractures in the world would occur in Asia. This big increase is largely fuelled by life expectancy improving in the region.
To better tackle the issue, IOF decided to open a regional office in Singapore. This office will be officially opened by Professor S. Jayakumar, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, tomorrow.
IOF also has regional offices in Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Amman in Jordan.
Said its chief executive officer Patrice McKenney:
“Everything IOF does is science-based and most world experts in the field are members of IOF – in our committee or our scientific advisers.”
IOF’s Asian audit found that for the countries in general, there was widespread deficiency in calcium and vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.
Of the 11 Asian governments that replied to its survey, only four, including Singapore’s Health Ministry,
see osteoporosis as a major health problem.
Already, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) identifies patients at risk and provides treatment
to help prevent fractures.
The Health Promotion Board also has educational and screening programmes to raise awareness of
Ms McKenney said: “There is a burst of activity here with increasing research and attention to the problem of this devastating and costly disease.”
She said such programmes would be much easier to organise from a Singapore office than from Switzerland.
Among the programmes is the first Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting in December, which is expected
to draw around 800 clinicians and bone health specialists from throughout the region.
IOF will work closely with two member societies here – the Osteoporosis Society of Singapore and the Endocrine and Metabolic Society of Singapore – and with similar organisations in other Asian countries.
It will also launch a series of education programmes for both health-care providers and the public,
including one in Singapore at the Esplanade Park in the coming months.