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173,000 broken bones too many - Osteoporosis Australia rebrands

173,000 broken bones too many - Osteoporosis Austr
Photo: Osteoporosis Australia rebrands
A report revealing Australians sustained 173,000 broken bones last year prompted Osteoporosis Australia to rebrand as ‘Healthy Bones Australia’ and is calling for greater awareness, education and management of osteoporosis.

An article by the organisation in MJA Insight presents preliminary findings and recommendations following a forum convened to identify health system barriers to improving Australia’s bone health.

According to the article co-author and Medical Director, Healthy Bones Australia, Professor Peter Ebeling AO, more must be done to improve public awareness, diagnosis and treatment for at-risk people living with the disease.

“The renaming of our consumer organisation to ‘Healthy Bones Australia’ reflects our aim – to protect, build and support better bone health for all Australians.
“Concerningly, the prevalence of osteoporosis in Australia is on the rise, with more than 4.74 million Australians over 50 years of age (approximately two-thirds of those aged 50+) living with poor bone health.

“Early diagnosis of osteoporosis is vital to reducing fracture rates and their subsequent impacts and costs. These osteoporotic fractures cost the Australian healthcare system more than $3 billion each year,” said Prof Ebeling.

The forum, part of the National Strategic Action Plan for Osteoporosis, examined current challenges and issues facing the health system and called for heightened community awareness, education, improved diagnosis, and osteoporosis management.

Recommendations included readily accessible treatments, improved diagnosis for prompt treatment, increased awareness of risk factors and for general practitioners to focus on bone health to prevent osteoporosis and fractures.

Co-author and Deputy Chair of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee, Healthy Bones Australia, Dr Weiwen Chen, said educating target populations about the risk factors for osteoporosis is critical to earlier diagnosis, reduced fracture rates and curbing impact and cost.

“Public health messaging about the importance of prioritising and maintaining healthy bones tailored to those aged 50 and over with risk factors, younger adults with specific risk factors, and those who have sustained a fracture, is very important.

“Evidenced-based, consumer resources are vital, alongside core services, such as a national website, a toll-free helpline, risk factor fact sheets and online self-assessment tools, all of which are available free of charge from Healthy Bones Australia,” said Dr Chen.

“These resources remain critical, together with targeted awareness campaigns, particularly given COVID-19 restrictions have shown online access to credible health information is highly valued.”

By 2022, around 6.2 million Australians over 50 years of age will be living with poor bone health (either osteoporosis or osteopenia), equating to 183,105 fractures each year.

CEO of Healthy Bones Australia, Greg Lyubomirsky, says ignoring bone health has severe consequences, including broken bones.

“This should be avoided by focusing on prevention, which means understanding risk factors for poor bone health, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

“Our new name, ‘Healthy Bones Australia’, reflects this goal, while our new resource hub offers the community valuable educational tools.

“Poor bone health is a public health issue – 173,000 broken bones each year is unacceptable,” said Mr Lyubomirsky.

Physiotherapist Chloe de Winter says the rebrand will help the organisation be more relatable, improving community awareness of osteoporosis.

“Australia has an ageing population, which means each year, our country will face more broken bones.

“Anything to draw more attention to the need to diagnose early and treat is a positive to the community, but also to the healthcare system, which loses billions of dollars to this each year.

“It’s great to see Healthy Bones Australia take such strong action!”

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Haley Williams

Haley Williams has a Bachelor of Communication in Journalism and over a decade of experience in the media, marketing and communications industries.

She is a widely published journalist with a particular interest in writing magazine features on parenting, health, fitness, nutrition and education.

Before becoming a freelance journalist, Haley worked as a writer for NeoLife (a worldwide nutrition company), News Limited and APN News & Media.

Haley also has extensive experience as an SEO Content Writer and Digital Marketing Strategist.