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Ministers have gathered at Parliament House to discuss plans to improve bone health and reduce fractures – with 160,000 fractures due to poor bone health this year alone

With World Osteoporosis Day held on Friday 20 October this week, Federal MPs and Senators have attended a Roundtable discussion to review the impact of osteoporosis in Australia and investigate strategies for fracture prevention.

According to Osteoporosis Australia CEO Greg Lyubomirsky too many Australians are unnecessarily breaking bones, leading to impacts on the patient, their family and the healthcare system at large.

Currently 66% of the population aged over 50 is estimated to have poor bone health.

And this year alone, Australians are predicted to sustain up to 160,000 fractures due to poor bone health, with costs reaching more than $3.1 billion – 70% of which are directly related to fracture costs.

Hip fractures remain the most costly type of fracture related to osteoporosis, while other types of fractures remain widespread – wrist, spinal, arm and leg fractures. 

“We cannot allow so many Australians to be affected by broken bones. We must take action to prevent fractures,” says Dr Lyubomirsky.

“This bi-partisan, Federal Ministerial Roundtable is a very positive and welcome step in our call for action.”

The roundtable was held in Parliament House on Thursday 19 October, with Federal MPs and Senators asked to wear a “Know Your Bones” lapel pin on the day.

Attendees of the bi-partisan Federal Ministerial roundtable on fracture prevention. L-R:  Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health; Kerri-Anne Kennerley; Cathy Freeman; Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull; Julie Bishop,  Minister for Foreign Affairs
Attendees of the bi-partisan Federal Ministerial roundtable on fracture prevention. L-R: Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health; Kerri-Anne Kennerley; Cathy Freeman OAM; Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull; Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs

Professor Mark Cooper, Deputy Chair of the Osteoporosis Australia Medical Committee, says it is concerning that patients are leaving hospitals after sustaining a fracture without being routinely investigated for osteoporosis.

“We also have members of our community living with osteoporosis risk factors, who are not having a bone mineral density test. This must change so that we can prevent fractures.”

A broken bone is a medical emergency, and after repairing a costly fracture, for any patient over 50, we need to be asking why it happened, says Dr Lyubomirsky.

“Fractures are mostly caused by osteoporosis in people aged over 50. Yet only 20% of these patients are currently being investigated. Therefore, most patients are not being diagnosed, and remain unaware of their underlying health issue.

“Today’s Federal Ministerial Roundtable will review the impact of osteoporosis and strategies, such as fracture liaison services, to reduce the number of Australians breaking bones.”

“As with many chronic conditions, prevention is better than a cure,” says Olympic Gold Medallist and World Osteoporosis Day Ambassador, Cathy Freeman OAM.

“Exercise, particularly weight bearing and resistance exercise, is recognised as one of the most effective lifestyle strategies to help make bones as strong as possible,” she says.

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