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For release October 20, 2000 –
World Osteoporosis Day


IOF members in 60 countries celebrate World Osteoporosis Day on October 20.

LYON, France.

The World Health Organization should make osteoporosis a global health priority, according to Queen Rania of Jordan.

Speaking in a video presentation released on World Osteoporosis Day, October 20, 2000, Queen Rania, who is patron of the International Osteoporosis Foundation, also encouraged "health ministers from around the world to make osteoporosis a priority in their own countries."

Osteoporosis, sometimes called the "silent epidemic" because it is frequently not diagnosed until after a person has broken several bones, affects one in three women and one in eight men worldwide. "Osteoporosis is as common in women as the combined incidence of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer," Professor Pierre D. Delmas, IOF president, notes in the video.

Queen Rania's observations are based, in part, on a new 11-nation IOF study, "How Fragile is Her Future?" which explains that people with osteoporosis say they are not getting the medical attention they think they deserve.

Mary Anderson, IOF executive director, criticized the way the medical profession deals with osteoporosis. "Doctors want to do a good job but often don't have the time or haven't been educated to recognize the symptoms of osteoporosis. And then if their patient does have the disease the health system too often fails to reimburse the patient for diagnosis and treatment."

Queen Rania also introduced the Millennium One-Minute Risk Test, a simple questionnaire that helps women and men determine whether they are at risk of osteoporosis and should see their doctor and request a bone density test.

Professor Rene Rizzoli, head of the IOF Committee of Scientific Advisers, launched the world's first journalists' award aimed at recognizing excellence in osteoporosis reporting. Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, Dr Rizzoli noted the importance of generating media coverage in helping people learn about osteoporosis and influencing public health officials to put osteoporosis on the agenda.

In addition to the statements by Queen Rania and Professor Delmas, the IOF video includes statements and interviews with health ministers and patients.

Several key themes emerge from the video – the need for people to take responsibility for their own bone health, the fact that the medical system is not providing adequate bone health care, and the recognition that people suffer severe pain when their osteoporotic fractures, often vertebral, are not diagnosed and treated.

In the video:

Dr. Jorge Jiménez de la Jara from Chile, Chairman of the Executive Board WHO-World Health Organization, predicts that osteoporosis will reach epidemic proportions, and explains the importance of a proposed WHO resolution to make osteoporosis a priority. He stresses the empowerment of women to take responsibility for their own bone health.

Dr Karam Karam, minister of health from Lebanon, stresses the importance of prevention and education. "Osteoporosis should be on the priority list of any minister of health anywhere in the world," he notes.

Dr Yin Dakui, vice-minister of health of China, notes that greatest growth of osteoporosis will occur in developing countries. He quotes WHO statistics which estimate that by 2050 about 75% of osteoporosis-related fractures will occur in the developing world.

Marie-Lynn Majdalany, an osteoporosis patient from Lebanon, was lucky to receive good medical treatment. She tells of how her risk factors made it almost inevitable that she got the disease – her mother has osteoporosis, she smokes and had a hysterectomy at age 45.

Bai Yuru, from China, broke her arm in an accident. At the hospital she was treated for her fracture but not told about osteoporosis, even though she walks with a severe humpback that is one of the clearest indications of shrinking bones and crushed vertebrae.

Maria Teresa Guillen, an osteoporosis patient from Chile, notes that doctors reacted to her complaints of severe back pain by telling her she had cancer. "They had the operating room all ready, but I said 'no thank you, I don't have cancer. I have something else – I don't know what it is, but it's not cancer.'" She adds that "doctors don't know very much about this disease, they must learn, they must worry about this disease that is so important for women."

IOF's 107 member societies in 60 countries are promoting World Osteoporosis Day with local activities aimed at increasing public awareness about osteoporosis and lobbying for policy changes that will ensure that people receive adequate prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Professor Delmas interprets the theme of World Osteoporosis Day 2000, "invest in your bones" as meaning that "everyone who might be at risk of osteoporosis should invest one minute of time to fill out the Millennium One Minute Risk Test, doctors around the world should spend more time learning about osteoporosis in order to diagnose and treat their patients, and that public health authorities and health insurance companies should invest more money so that diagnostic tests and treatment should be more widely available and reimbursed."

To obtain a copy of the WOD video, the Millennium One-Minute Osteoporosis Risk Test, the song Bone of My Own, the report "How Fragile is Her Future", details on the journalists award, information about national activities, contact:

IOF secretariat:
Tel: +33 4 72 91-4177,
Fax: +33 4 72 36-9052

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