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IOF-Lilly Policy Initiative Grants

Summary of Award-Winning Projects in 2002

In May 2002 at the IOF World Wide Conference of Osteoporosis Patient Societies, five societies were awarded the IOF-Lilly Osteoporosis Policy Initiative Grant in May 2002 for their policy-oriented projects aimed at reducing the burden of osteoporosis in their countries. The projects are described briefly below:

Beinvernd – the Icelandic Osteoporosis Society
Are you at risk without knowing it? Diagnosis in time makes a difference!

Halldora Bjornsdottir and Anna Palsdottir holding award at the IOF World Wide Conference of Osteoporosis Patient Societies

Beinvernd's project aims to influence health authorities to develop a comprehensive policy on osteoporosis so that awareness, prevention, diagnosis and treatment are focused towards preventing the first fracture. Also, although reimbursement of testing and treatment is not a problem in Iceland, health professionals need to be more aware and better informed about the disease.

Beinvernd is using a varied approach to carry out its campaign. It is broadcasting TV commercials targeted at opinion-making groups such as health professionals and authorities. The commercials, one of which is read by the Director General of Health, put forward hard facts to underline the seriousness of osteoporosis. In addition, booklets focusing on early diagnosis are being distributed to all health clinics in Iceland and numerous seminars are being carried out for doctors. A van, equipped with ultrasound measurement devices and managed by a specialist, is traveling to smaller east coast towns in cooperation with local health clinics – to screen individuals considered at high risk and to recommend further testing if necessary.

A standardised risk factor evaluation form which takes into account the Icelandic situation and which will serve as a guideline for all doctors, health professionals, hospitals and nursing homes is also being created. The aim is to have this standardised risk-factor evaluation form ready by 2003.

Finally, government health authorities are being encouraged to establish a comprehensive policy for osteoporosis management. The 5th anniversary of the society will be used as a focal point to schedule meetings with, among others, the Minister of Health and the Government Committee of Finance. With the assistance of its patron, former Minister of Health Ms. I Palmadottir, Beinvernd hopes to influence and assist the government authorities in their policy on osteoporosis and to get government funding for new DEXA and ultrasound equipment as well as support for Beinvernd's educational work.

Osteoporosis Society of India
Action Plan Osteoporosis

Dr. Rohini Handa (left) and Dr. A.B. Dey (right) of the Osteoporosis Society of India are presented with the award by IOF CEO Daniel Navid.

The Osteoporosis Society of India (OSI)'s "Action Plan Osteoporosis" initiative has two key objectives:

  • to lobby for integration of bone health and osteoporosis as a key area for intervention in "Reproductive and Child Health Programme" of the Government of India
  • to lobby for integration of bone health and osteoporosis as a key area for intervention in the government's non-communicable diseases programme.

Over the last three years the Government of India has announced three important policy statements concerning health and well-being in later life. Although these statements recognise osteoporosis as one of the important health issues for older men and women, specific interventions for primary and secondary prevention have not yet been designed.

Specific actions to be undertaken by the OSI include the preparation of a position statement indicating the magnitude of osteoporosis in the country – which has 75 million people aged 60 years or more – and the dissemination of this information to key officials in the central and state governments. The OSI will organise an Expert Group Meeting to suggest preventive and intervention programmes suited to the country. It will also lobby for the inclusion of calcium supplementation into the ongoing "Reproductive and Child Health Programme" and for the availability of ultrasound-based bone densitometry facilities in all medical schools and tertiary care hospitals. Lobbying will also focus on the reduction or exemption of government duty on drugs used for treatment of osteoporosis – in order to make drugs affordable for the less privileged – and for inclusion of these drugs in the essential drug list of the central government. The latter would ensure that these drugs are available to the more than 3 million people who benefit from the central government health scheme.

Israeli Foundation for Osteoporosis and Bone Diseases (IFOB)
Israeli Access Campaign

Dr. Uri Liberman and Irit Inbar of the IFOB

The Israeli Foundation for Osteoporosis and Bone Diseases (IFOB)'s project aims to remove Israel's national health age restrictions for reimbursement of diagnosis and treatment costs for osteoporosis in patients younger than 65 years of age and those at risk of developing breast cancer.

The current health policy in Israel ignores those patients under 65 who cannot use HRT because they have or are at risk of breast cancer. Having breast cancer or being at risk from developing it are not implicated in the diagnosis of osteoporosis but the treatments approved in Israel for breast cancer may increase a patient's chance of developing osteoporosis.

IFOB's Israeli Access Campaign will argue that government policy needs to provide for newer effective alternatives for osteoporosis treatment, such as bisphosphonates or raloxifene. The campaign will target national health policy decision-makers, healthcare providers and national health insurance sick fund managers via medical professional and the public.

With a well structured and strategic approach, IFOB will act in alliance with the Israeli anti cancer association, which is a powerful lobbying force, the National Board for Women's Health and an influential female MP. The project will commission a health economist to look at the cost benefits of extending reimbursement, set up a conference to explore and publicise the issue, exploit media opportunities to present the project and issue, and the health economist's finding will be disseminated at relevant medical conferences. Lobbying at parliament will be organised and media interviews with National Board for Women's Health members will be conducted.

Russian Osteoporosis Patient Society – Towards a Life Without Osteoporosis and Fractures
Caution! Osteoporosis!

Dr. Lydia Benevolenskaya of the Russian Association on Osteoporosis accepts the award on behalf of the Russian Osteoporosis Patient Society from Lilly representative, Marcel Lechanteur (right) and IOF CEO Daniel Navid (left)

In Russia the majority of bone scanning equipment is centralised in Moscow. In the rest of the country osteoporosis is under diagnosed. Access to prevention and treatment is highly variable across the regions. Epidemiological studies show that the incidence of osteoporosis-related fractures is highest in eastern Russia. It is against this background that the Russian Osteoporosis Patient Society, which in May 2002 was awarded an IOF-Lilly Osteoporosis Policy Initiative Grant, is embarking on a three-year campaign which aims to:

  • get osteoporosis drugs reimbursed throughout the regions;
  • increase the number of osteoporosis patients receiving drug therapies;
  • increase access to densitometry machines for high risk groups, especially in eastern Russia;
  • improve awareness, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis in Russia.

Branches of the Russian Osteoporosis Patient Society in a number of cities will manage the campaign. Activities will include, organising a seminar for journalists, publication of newsletters, encouraging drug review (of osteoporosis therapies) by regional departments of healthcare and health assurance, and running roundtable discussions involving leading experts, politicians and healthcare decision-makers in four regions. To support lobbying and awareness raising and to help effect policy change in the regions, research initiatives looking at the economic and social costs of osteoporosis, and the diagnosis, drug and densitometry availability, and reimbursement situation throughout the regions will be promoted.

Slovene Osteoporosis Patient Society
DEXA Scanning for Everyone at Risk

Dusa Hlade Zore of the Slovene Osteoporosis Patient Society Dusa Hlade Zore of the Slovene Osteoporosis Patient Society

Through a three-year project, the society aims to get bone density scans to be covered by basic health insurance for all people at risk of osteoporosis prior to the first fracture.

The project will include a number of activities designed to bring about this change:

  • co-operation with members of the National Action Network of the Bone and Joint Decade and medical professionals;
  • publication of a report on the ultrasound bone mass screening undertaken by the Slovene Osteoporosis Patient Society between 2000 and 2002. This is available in various parts of the country free of charge to women over 50 and men over 65;
  • lobbying politicians and policy makers for more funding for early detection and treatment of osteoporosis;
  • organising educational activities for adolescents through the Ministry of Education and Sport;
  • publicising the state of osteoporosis prevention and treatment in Slovenia on World Osteoporosis Day;
  • publication of a newsletter for Slovene Osteoporosis Patient Society members. This is to be made available in Slovenia's health resorts;
  • promoting the collection of nationwide data on osteoporosis diagnosis, fractures caused by osteoporosis and the cost of hospital treatment.

This project, which will be reviewed annually, will build on the growing awareness of osteoporosis in Slovenia and aim to fill a vital gap in broadening the access of osteoporosis sufferers to prevention and treatment.

Report and summary (PDF, 92 KB)

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