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European Community Initiatives on Osteoporosis

The most important objective of IOF’s policy work in Europe has been to further implement the eight recommendations published by the European Commission in 1998 to make the prevention of osteoporosis and related fractures a governmental health care priority in all European Union Member States. Among other actions since 1998, IOF has assisted in the launch of a European Union Osteoporosis Consultation Panel and a European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group, as well as in the publication of audits (2001 and 2005) and an ‘Action Plan’.

Below is a timeline with brief descriptions and links to all of IOF’s EU-related policy initiatives.



The collaboration of the European Commission (EC) and IOF began in 1997 with working group meetings of experts on osteoporosis and the launch of the Report on Osteoporosis in the European Community in June 1998. The EC provided essential financial and practical support for the production, launch and dissemination of materials to promote the eight recommendations contained in the report and the European Parliament (EP) played a key role in initiating the report. Because of this strong support – and the dedicated work of people in many countries – the EU Report had a high initial impact as measured by media response, references to the report at meetings and in publications and government action at national level.



In December 2001 the IOF published a report to audit policy developments since the publication of the 1998 recommendations. The audit report showed "disappointing progress" since 1998, with a fracture increase of 25% and costs for hospital care alone up by 33%. As a result, IOF helped to initiate the launch of European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group which issued a "Call to action" to spur government action against osteoporosis in Europe. The Call to Action, which was enthusiastically supported by the European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne, said that national health authorities and health insurance agencies should pay for diagnosis and treatment of people with osteoporosis risk factors before their first fracture, as is often the procedure for people with risk factors for other serious illnesses, such as heart disease. The members of the European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group pledged to act as osteoporosis ambassadors to help implement the Call the Action until 2003, at which time another audit was performed.

2002 and 2003

Action Plan 2003

In 2002 the IOF was awarded a grant from the EC for a policy project entitled "Call to Osteoporosis Action". This project brought policy makers from the European Union and its member states, and osteoporosis experts, together to form a consultation panel to work on practical, cost effective strategies to improve access to diagnosis and proven therapies before the first fracture. The project is a key building block in implementing recommendations outlined in the EC 1998, Report on Osteoporosis in the European Community – Action for Prevention and the subsequent "Call to Action" by the EP Osteoporosis Interest Group in 2001. The project began in summer 2002, with the
first consultation panel meeting held in Leiden, The Netherlands in September 2002. The second meeting, which finalized the European Union Osteoporosis Consultaton Panel's Action Plan was held on September 30th, 2003. The Action Plan was launched at an event in the European Parliament on November 12, 2003 in Brussels. The press conference, featuring high-profile invited speakers, was held in conjunction with the exhibit "Osteoporosis: A Photographic Vision" by Oliviero Toscani which will be shown in the European Parliament from November 10 to 14, 2003.



Overview and next steps

In 2004 IOF and the EU Osteoporosis Consultation Panel submitted to the European Commission a publication entitled "Osteoporosis in the European Union: Member States Policy Progress Report, February 2004", which updates the findings of the Leiden meetings on a country-by-country basis.

They also submitted a report which outlines the entire project and the key next steps for the European Commission. The European Commission is requested to 1. distribute the "Action Plan" of 2003 to Ministries of Health of member and new member states; 2. Support member and new member states in achieving a coordinated implementation of the key steps; 3. Prepare a proposal for a EU Council Recommendation on the prevention of osteoporotic fractures.

A third meeting of the Osteoporosis Consultation Panel took place in November 2004 in Brussels, with the participation of representatives from the New Member states.




The Osteoporosis Consultation Panel representatives completed a questionnaire showing indicators of progress. The results of the survey were published in the brochure Osteoporosis in Europe: Indicators of Progress (February 2005)

Download report (PDF, 249 KB)

In June 2005, a meeting of the EP Osteoporosis Interest Group was held in the European Parliament.
See meeting report


A joint meeting of the EP Osteoporosis Interest Group and the EU Osteoporosis Consultation Panel is to be held in Brussels on April 19, 2006.

Other EU policy initiatives

An "ageing population" key action section has been added to the European Union's Fifth Research Framework programme of DG XII (1998-2002). IOF is actively involved in the consultation process and recommended the inclusion of health problems, including osteoporosis, that arise from an increasingly ageing European population. The Foundation has also requested that the EU maintain an ongoing dialogue with non-governmental organizations about this programme.

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