IOF CEO Philippe Halbout recently travelled to four Asian cities to liaise with local member societies, healthcare providers and health authorities, providing a global perspective and support for national efforts to drive change in health care policies.
Asian countries are seeing an immense increase in their aged populations and consequent rise in fractures. The impending fragility fracture crisis is so dire that health authorities are now acknowledging the urgent need to make fracture prevention a top healthcare priority.
From August 21 to September 3rd, IOF CEO Philippe Halbout travelled to Taipei, Beijing, Seoul, and Singapore to meet with local member societies, important stakeholders in the health field, and health authorities. Providing an international perspective of the challenges and proven solutions in the fight against fragility fractures, he focused on the importance of secondary fracture prevention and the role of Fracture Liaison Services (FLS), as championed by IOF’s Capture the Fracture® initiative.
On his first stop in Taipei, Dr Halbout met with the Taiwanese Osteoporosis Association (TOA), an IOF member society which is exemplary in its dedication to healthcare professional education, patient outreach and, above all, the advancement of FLS. The nation is facing a rapidly ageing society (30% of the population aged 65+ by 2040!) and health authorities are recognizing the need to focus on primary and secondary prevention. Against this backdrop, IOF’s CEO attended a Roundtable with Chun-Fu Lee, Director of the Medical Affairs Division of the NHI; TOA; and representatives from AmCham Taipei. He then visited the Taichung Veterans General Hospital, an enormous, state-of-the-art hospital which treats nearly 7000 patients a day. There he was honoured to meet with the Superintendent Prof. Wayne H-H Sheu and the FLS team. The impressive, highly sophisticated FLS, which joined the Capture the Fracture network in 2018, is a prime example of best practice in secondary fracture prevention.
In China, due to a rapidly ageing society, it is expected that by 2028, approximately 90 million women will have osteoporosis. The need for urgent action to prevent fragility fractures in this ageing population is now of paramount concern. In Beijing, IOF’s CEO met with the China Health Promotion Foundation and participated in a panel discussion during the China Health Lifestyle Conference, where he highlighted the importance of bone health for quality of life and independence at older age. It was apparent from the conference that China is highly committed to tackling the non-communicable disease burden and to improving the health of its population. At a second Roundtable meeting in Beijing, Dr Halbout was also able to offer an international perspective and insights regarding FLS development. Dr Halbout's media interview in China was picked up by many online news portals, resulting in considerable coverage (over 50 news articles). The news reports covered the key messages of the impact of hip fracture on China, with high mortality rate and socioeconomic costs.
The third stop was South Korea, where Dr Halbout met with the Korean Society of Bone Metabolism (KSBMR) and attended a meeting at the Korean National Assembly with Seyeon Kim, Chairman, Health and Welfare Committee, Member of the National Assembly, and with Professor Yongchan Ha, Director of Publications & Fracture Liaison Services, LS, KSBMR. This was a very significant meeting, showing the very high level of interest by the authorities for secondary prevention as a key priority in the fight against the fracture epidemic in Korea’s ageing population. IOF also attended an important meeting with South Korea’s Deputy Minister for Health and Welfare, together with Professor Ho Yeon Chung, President of the KSBMR. The discussion focused on health policy related to osteoporosis prevention and treatment in Korea. Clearly, health authorities are committed to making osteoporosis a health priority in order to tackle the growing epidemic of fractures in the country. Indeed, as reflected in rising healthcare costs and the UN’s ‘old-age dependency ratio’ forecast, South Korea is facing an ageing Tsunami. The number of seniors (age 65+) per 100 people of working age (age 18-64) is expected to rise to 66.3 per 100 by 2050! Evidently, the need to implement strategies to help seniors remain mobile and independent takes on a new urgency.
IOF's CEO also gave a media interview which resulted in an in-depth and well-illustrated article in 'The Munhwa Ilbo', the only comprehensive evening paper in Korea. With the headline "Osteoporosis treatment should aim for fracture prevention rather than BMD management", the news story underlined the urgency of improving the osteoporosis treatment environment in Korea.
The final visit was to Singapore, where IOF’s CEO joined the Osteoporosis Society of Singapore’s CME event for clinicians across a broad spectrum of medical specialities. He discussed the evolving role of the Capture the Fracture initiative and IOF’s capability building efforts to help clinicians give their patients the best care possible.
Dr Halbout commented:
This was an exciting and highly productive tour which allowed IOF to connect with and support the dedicated member national societies who are carrying out phenomenal work in the region. As well, I was greatly honoured to meet with many key healthcare officials and health authorities for in-depth discussions. It was a unique opportunity to relate IOF’s mission and to stress the urgent need for Asian nations to focus on secondary fracture prevention.”