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Osteoporosis Society of the Philippines, Inc.

OSPFI's fight against osteoporosis in the Philippines

Exact figures of the prevalence of osteoporosis in the Philippines are not available, but a 1991 survey carried out in the National Orthopedic Hospital (now called the Philippine Orthopedic Center) from 1979-1988 showed that 62.9% of the patients aged 50 and over who had been admitted for fractures were affected by osteoporosis. Sixty three percent of these fractures were at the femur (the hip). These figures suggest that osteoporosis is indeed a serious problem in the country. With a growing population of elderly Filipinos, the increase in osteoporosis-related fractures will translate into a potentially huge health and social problem in the near future.

In response, the Osteoporosis Society of the Philippines, Inc. (OSPFI) was created in 1997. The aim of the society is to disseminate information about osteoporosis to the public; to carry out research on the disease; and to promote prevention, treatment and control measures to improve the quality of life for elderly Filipinos. Two of the difficulties faced by the Society include the low awareness of the disease and the perception that osteoporosis is normal consequence of ageing. The geographic difficulty – the country is made up of 7,107 islands – also poses a major stumbling block in terms of reaching people and providing diagnostic and treatment services.

Since its launch OSPFI has made progress in increasing awareness of the disease. With encouragement from OSPFI, the former Philippine President Joseph Estrada made a presidential proclamation in 1998 declaring every second week of October to be National Osteoporosis Awareness Week. In line with the proclamation, all national agencies and the private sector were instructed to collaborate with the OSPFI and the Department of Health and to give full support to their activities. National Osteoporosis Awareness Week features extensive media and community activities aiming to make“osteoporosis” a household word. One of the highlights is the motorcade to kick off activities in Manila and other regions of the country. In 1998, a song entitled “Osteoporosis Stay Away From Me” by one of the best composers in the country and sung by a popular young singer, was heard all over the country.

The society holds annual scientific meetings which include international speakers as well as more than 10 “lay fora” per year. These meetings bring information about bone health to high school and college students, discuss screening and treatment options among Rotary Club members, ambassador’s wives groups and women’s organizations; and include interactive public sessions in various regions with the participation of local officials.

Although OSPFI has accomplished much, it still faces has many challenges in the future. The society’s belief that the “the presence of older people in the world needs to be recognized as a gift” will continue to drive its work. By working to prevent osteoporotic fractures in the Philippines, OSPFI supports the right of the elderly to a productive social and economic life, adequate health care, and a good quality of life.

19.03.2004


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