Facing the bone health crisis


Facing the bone health crisis in the world’s most populous & fastest ageing region

Leading bone experts from the Asia Pacific region, including Australia, gathered in Singapore at the end of 2022 (December 10) for the Asia Pacific Consortium on Osteoporosis (APCO) Scientific Summit.

APCO members, representing 19 Asia Pacific countries and regions attended the summit which also included APCO Chair Professor Manju Chandran, International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) CEO Dr Philippe Halbout and summit Guest of Honour, Singapore’s Minister for Health, Mr Ong Ye Kung.

From Left to right: APCO Chair Professor Manju Chandran, Singapore’s Minister for Health, Mr Ong Ye Kung and IOF CEO Dr Philippe Halbout.

According to Prof Chandran, Senior Consultant Endocrinologist and Director, Osteoporosis and Bone Metabolism Unit, Singapore General Hospital “A perfect storm of a rise in osteoporosis among Asia Pacific populations is expected to occur due to the region’s rapidly aging population, mounting urbanisation, and subsequent increase in sedentary lifestyles.”

“Unless urgent steps are taken, we will be facing an epidemic of osteoporotic fractures that could have been avoided through appropriate preventive measures, early diagnosis, and treatment.”

Dr Chandran noted APCO members are charged with developing tangible solutions to the challenges facing osteoporosis management in the world’s most populous and linguistically and culturally diverse region.

APOCO experts are confident change is possible if armed with support from local governments, policy makers, healthcare providers, philanthropic organisations, pharmaceutical companies, and other stakeholders from both the private and public healthcare sectors throughout the region.

Minister Ong Ye Kung reflected on the healthcare challenges facing the Asia Pacific region, and  how his country, Singapore, is working to shift the emphasis of healthcare away from the hospital and into the community, explaining Singapore will prioritise preventive care for all its residents, with key shifts including lifestyle modification, regular health screening, and enrolment with one primary care provider.

Osteoporosis is greatly under-diagnosed, and under-treated in Pacific, even among those at highest risk who have already fractured.¹Concerningly, over the next two decades, a staggering 319 million people within Asia Pacific aged 50+ are projected to be at high risk of osteoporotic fracture.² Moreover, the number of hip fractures are forecast to more than double in Asia Pacific, from 1.13 million in 2018, to 2.54 million in 2050.

APCO Summit recommendations to address the projected growing burden of osteoporosis and fractures in the Asia Pacific focused on:

Education and training of healthcare professionals;

Quality improvement and secondary fracture prevention;

Prioritising the prevention of musculoskeletal disease at a policy level;

Enhancing research to amass evidence;

Improving diagnosis and treatment accessibility and reimbursement;

Creating national prevention programs; and

Heightening public awareness and patient support.

  1. International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF). Key statistics for Asia. [cited Oct, 2022]; Available from: https://www.osteoporosis.foundation/facts-statistics/key-statistic-for-asia.
  2. Cheung, C.-L., et al., An updated hip fracture projection in Asia: The Asian Federation of Osteoporosis Societies study. Osteoporosis and sarcopenia, 2018. 4(1): p. 16-21.