Business and Professional Women International
In early 1999, IOF formed a new partnership with Business and Professional Women International (BPWI). Founded in 1930, BPWI has affiliates in over 100 countries and represents a global network of highly educated professional working women. It works to promote opportunities for women in all parts of the world. Globally, BPWI speaks out on fundamental issues concerning the welfare and status of women, and so its members have an obvious interest in osteoporosis. In turn, its members' expertise covers all walks of life. They can lend their support to IOF from the local to the international level.
The major objective of the partnership is to lobby for policy change specifically for reimbursement of diagnostic tests for women at risk and for reimbursement of treatment. The partnership will be put into effect locally as each country determines the means and extent of its partnership involvement. Osteoporosis organizations recognized by IOF, and BPWI national and state federations and associate clubs will work together to achieve the aims of the new alliance.
The IOF and its members have worked with BPWI since 1999. IOF together with the Osteoporosis Society of Canada (OSC) participated in the BPWI XXIII congress held in Vancouver Canada that September. The theme, "Empowering Women for the 21st Century", was one close to IOF's mission to empower women to take charge of their bone health. At the congress, IOF and the OSC held two osteoporosis awareness workshops entitled "Osteoporosis – Be informed, Take Action". Delegates were informed about the disease and about how they can get personally involved in the IOF-BPWI partnership. That same year Dr. Pat Harrison, former BPWI International President,, gave a presentation at the 5th World-wide Conference of Osteoporosis Patient Societies in Toronto. She also participated in the partnership workshop which gave delegates ideas on how to initiate and extend BPWI partnerships in their own countries. Since 1999 IOF and its member societies have worked on common projects with BPWI, including osteoporosis awareness raising activities in Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Mexico and Romania.
Partnership activities at the national level
BPW's Australian President, Ella Keenan, and Gillian Leach, Executive Officer of "Osteoporosis Australia" worked out an action plan "Working Together BPW and OA" which was presented to the national executive of BPW. The plan has three main aims:
- Increase awareness of osteoporosis in the community, among health and medical professionals and at government level.
- Improve access to bone density scans
- Improve access to medications
Ella, who sits on the "Round Table" to advise the Federal Minister for the Status of Woman, has taken an active role in lobbying the Australian Health Minister for Medicare rebates for bone densitometry.
The action plan includes the following activities:
- A club education program including regular articles in newsletters and talks to all clubs by Osteoporosis Australia
- Clubs will also spread the message in their local communities using local newspapers and community seminars on osteoporosis, to be held with the aid of Osteoporosis Australia
- An osteoporosis workshop at the national BPW conference on October 2000.
- Talks are underway with Merck Sharpe and Dohme to finance a stand and subsidise screening during the BPWI International Congress in Melbourne in 2002
BPW will also assist in lobbying the government:
- Division Presidents of BPW write to their local Members of Parliament to lobby for rebates for bone density tests for people at risk who have not yet had a fracture and for listing of medications for people with osteoporosis who have not yet had a fracture.
- Community seminars on osteoporosis, to be held with the aid of Osteoporosis Australia
- The national office of BPW will prepare supporting submissions to Ministers
Chairwoman of "Women without Osteoporosis" (WWO), Mrs. Tamara Kovatcheva met with Mariana Tzvetkova, President of BPWI Bulgaria and agreed to collaborate on common projects.
Information and materials about osteoporosis, as well as guidelines on how to form support groups, were provided to the BPW clubs in Vratza and Karlovo.
In November 1999 a fundraising "Bone China tea party" was held by BPW and Zonta in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. There were three speakers; Dr. Susan Febbraro on Osteoporosis and Nutrition; John Salituri, Algoma Physical Rehabilitation Clinic on Fitness and Exercise and Esther Lion of the Group Health Centre, answering questions on the Bone Densitometer.
As well as learning about osteoporosis, the over 200 attendees sipped tea served from silver tea services, poured by three women city councillors and other famous women in the community. They also enjoyed delicacies prepared by members of both clubs.
Earlier this year, Dr. Maria Luisa Bianchi of the Lega Italiana Osteoporosi (LIOS) was invited to give a lecture at the BPW meeting in Verona. The lecture was very successful with more than 300 BPW delegates attending. The relationship between the two organisations will be strengthened as plans have been made to sign a national agreement to allow for future partnership activities.
BPWI's President in Israel, Dr. Hana Elroy, and Mrs. Irit Inbar, Chief Executive Officer of the Israeli Foundation for Osteoporosis and Bone Diseases worked together to plan activities for WOD 1999.
The Israeli Foundation for Osteoporosis and Bone Diseases and the BPW Tel-Aviv held a joint seminar on October 19th 1999 at which female doctors spoke of osteoporosis. The aims were to raise general awareness of osteoporosis in Israel, to lobby the Israeli Ministry of Health to include osteoporosis in the Israeli "Basket of Health". Dr. Adato the advisor to the health minister for women's health, talked about the health basket and the need to change health policy. A further meeting is planned for May 2000.
The Jordanian Osteoporosis Society (JOPS) participated in the regional BPWI symposium "Partnerships for the future empowerment of women". IOF Executive Director Mary Anderson and health professionals including JOP President Dr. Basel Masri, spoke about osteoporosis and its prevention. The event had concrete results, as the Jordan branch of BPWI and JOPS agreed to work together to promote knowledge about osteoporosis and its prevention in Jordan.
Mexico's BPW official, Dr. Yasmin Darwich has invited IOF members to attend the BPW's XXXI National Congress from July 26-29, 2000 in Torreon.
Dr. Iren Nagy, Chief Executive Officer of the Association for Prevention of Osteoporosis in Romania, is in contact with the President of BPW in Arad, Romania. Plans have been made by BPW to begin a local ASPOR group and for BPW members to attend the next ASPOR Annual Meeting.