Osteoporosis in the European Community: A Call to Action

Osteoporosis in the European Community: A Call to ActionThis audit report was published in December 2001, when a newly-created European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group issued a Call to Action to spur government action against osteoporosis.

The initiative was enthusiastically supported by David Byrne, then European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner, who called on national health authorities and health insurance agencies to 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.

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The report showed disappointing progress since 1998 and a 25% increase in fractures as well as other key findings:

  • Little progress had been made on the majority of the eight recommendations published in the 1998 Report on Osteoporosis in the European Community (EC).
  • The number of osteoporotic hip fractures in the EC rose to more than 480,000 annually, an increase of more than 25% over four years.
  • Osteoporosis cost more than an estimated Euro 4.8 billion annually in hospital healthcare alone (excluding rehabilitation and nursing home costs) – a 33% increase over three years.
  • A co-ordinated, dynamic data collection system to monitor osteoporotic fractures across Europe is urgently needed to document the size of the problem and to monitor changes.
  • The development of best practices to produce practical, cost effective strategies with measurable targets for reducing osteoporotic fractures must be implemented.
  • Access and payment of bone density scans must be improved for people with osteoporosis risk factors, especially before the first fracture.
  • Payment of proven therapies for people with osteoporosis risk factors must be improved especially before the first fracture.
  • Improved accessibility to diagnosis and proven therapies alone are not enough. Better education of policy makers, healthcare professionals and the general public is necessary to reduce osteoporotic fractures.

Read about other EU initiatives