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Fundacion Chilena de Osteoporosis

Fundacion Chilena de Osteoporosi wins 2003 IOF-Lilly Policy Initiative Grant

Chile is about to undergo the most extensive health reform in its history. Part of the reform will include the “Auge Plan” which guarantees the right to improved and equitable access to treatment for the 56 health problems that have the most impact on the quality of life of Chileans. The plan is expected to meet government approval by the end of 2003.

Although osteoporosis is a significant and growing disease in Chile, it is not on the list of priority diseases. This is despite the fact that a recent census shows that Chile’s population is ageing and that a growing number of households (33%)are now led by women - the gender most affected by osteoporosis. Even previous government-sponsored studies have shown the growing impact of musculskeletal diseases. A 1995 government study listed musculoskeletal diseases, including osteoporosis, as 13th in hospital morbidity, an increase of over 76% since 1975. Also, musculoskeletal diseases were listed as the tenth most significant diseases affecting quality of life in the population.

So why is osteoporosis being omitted from the Auge Plan? There is a lack of information and knowledge about osteoporosis among public health authorities and no awareness of the benefits that would be gained in prevention of fractures in the ageing population. Doctors, especially regional health professionals, have a low level of awareness, and even less access to diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities. The public too lacks awareness and, without this awareness, does not have the necessary tools to demand their rights as patients.

The primary target of the Fundacion’s project is to correct this situation and to lobby the public authorities to ensure that osteoporosis is included within the list of priority diseases. A full-scale media, information and education campaign will be carried out. This includes lectures and seminars on osteoporosis which would raise consciousness of osteoporosis not only among doctors, but also among the principal health-care decision makers in the country. A TV commercial will be produced and aired with the help of McCann Erickson in order to make public opinion sensitive to osteoporosis. This will be supported by widely-circulated information pamphlets. The press campaign may also include a press workshop to teach journalists about osteoporosis. The society is also carrying out bone densitometries at a rate of ca. 30 per day in order to gather statistics about the prevalence of osteoporosis.

If this campaign is successful in getting osteoporosis included in the “Auge Plan” it will be of immense importance – not just to those who are now suffering from osteoporosis and who will, for the first time, have access to therapy. With the general improvement in availability of diagnostic technology and preventive measures, thousands of people can be diagnosed early and thereby avoid fractures. And, if the public health-care system leads, the private health care system will be compelled to follow suit.


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