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Interview with Professor Lars Lidgren, Chair of the Bone & Joint Decade International Steering Committee

IOF News interviewed Professor Lidgren on the work of the Bone & Joint Decade and its contribution to the fight against osteoporosis.

What is the Bone & Joint Decade?
The Bone & Joint Decade is an international initiative of the medical and patient community concerned about musculoskeletal disorders. It is committed to reducing the severe, long-term burden of these disorders throughout the world.

How big is the scale of the problem?
Several hundred million people already suffer from bone and joint diseases and injuries worldwide. With a growing and ageing population, this figure is expected to increase sharply by the year 2020. The BJD wants action to be taken now.

Who is taking part in the BJD?
The Decade is an umbrella organisation covering more than 750 patient and professional member organisations from all over the world. The International Steering Committee acts as an overall coordinating body.

Who is supporting the BJD?
We know that it is crucial to get support from governments and major organisations to achieve our goals. Twenty governments have already endorsed the Bone & Joint Decade, and 80 countries either have or are in the process of setting up National Action Networks, many of which include IOF member national societies. 750 organisations and publications around the world support us, and we are particularly pleased to have the personal support of Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the UN, the WHO and the World Bank.

What does the Decade hope to achieve?
We have determined several key goals for the Decade (see box). In each case we have defined specific goals that will prove we are achieving our aims as we move through the Decade. For example, as part of our goal of raising public awareness we want to have 100 countries actively participating in the Decade by 2002. The annual action week, which ends of World Osteoporosis Day, October 20th, provides an important focal point to raise public awareness.

How do you see these goals being reached?
To reach our goals requires a true team effort encompassing many medical disciplines and patient groups. We must all rely on each other and use the limited resources we have at our disposal wisely. The main actions will be achieved through partnerships at the national level. The iof/BJD burden of musculoskeletal conditions monitor project will help to provide a measure of progress at 5 and 10-year intervals.

How important are IOF and its member societies to the work of the BJD?
Extremely important, as osteoporosis is one of the most significant musculoskeletal conditions, causing substantial suffering and mortality – an estimated 2.5 million osteoporotic fractures occur worldwide each year. We are pleased that IOF is represented on the BJD Steering Committee and I have no doubt that IOF's extensive contacts and experience will be an invaluable part of the Decade's work.

Do you think the BJD will increase public awareness of osteoporosis?
One of our primary goals is to raise the public awareness of all these conditions, which suffer because they are perceived, quite wrongly, as not 'serious'. IOF's involvement in the BJD will mean that osteoporosis forms a major part of this endeavour.

Do you think the BJD will increase public awareness of osteoporosis?
One of our primary goals is to raise the public awareness of all these conditions, which suffer because they are perceived, quite wrongly, as not 'serious'. IOF's involvement in the BJD will mean that osteoporosis forms a major part of this endeavour.

How can IOF member societies become involved in the BJD?
Many IOF member societies are already actively involved in the BJD through their membership of the national action networks. If IOF member societies have not already done so we invite them to sign the declaration of support, join the national action network in their own country and if there isn't a national action network, to help form one.

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