Experts call for greater political involvement in osteoporotic fracture prevention in Spain


On Thursday, March 24th, Dr Philippe Halbout, CEO of the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), participated at the press-conference organised for the launch of the Platform for Osteoporotic Fracture Prevention, in Spain. 

There is an evident lack of awareness about osteoporosis and fragility fractures in Spain, with both generating a long-term burden at the health and societal level and forecasted to increase in the coming decades. According to the “SCOPE 2021 - A Scorecard for Osteoporosis in Europe” report: 2,945,000 individuals are affected by osteoporosis and the costs associated with osteoporotic fractures adds up to 4.3 billion euros. This figure is expected to reach 5.5 billion euros by 2030. "We are talking about a significantly higher economic burden than other chronic non-communicable diseases, but this significant burden could be reduced with appropriate strategies and greater coordination," says Carmen de Aragón, one of the coordinators of the Platform for Osteoporotic Fracture Prevention. 

The Platform for Osteoporotic Fracture Prevention aims to drive prioritisation of secondary prevention through the development of effective policies at the national and regional level, to reduce the current and foreseen burden of osteoporosis and fragility fractures, with an appropriate strategy and coordination. The Platform, developed in close collaboration with IOF and bringing together multiple stakeholders, including national societies and local experts active in the bone field, aims to raise awareness about osteoporosis and fragility fractures, and to promote and drive policy change for the prioritisation of osteoporosis and secondary fracture prevention in Spain.

In Spain, similar to other European countries, osteoporosis and fragility fractures are associated with greater morbidity and mortality and result in an increasing financial and societal burden. A global approach is therefore urgently needed to improve identification of individuals at risk to prevent secondary fractures. This can only be successful through extensive and focused awareness campaigns targeting not only patients but the general public as well. 

The combination of the lack of awareness and limited access to diagnosis directly contributes to a very low ratio of diagnosis and treatment, and is another important issue to be addressed: "Eighty per cent of people who have had at least one fragility fracture are not identified nor diagnosed, and therefore do not receive the diagnosis and subsequent management that they should," says Dr Santiago Palacios, a member of the scientific committee of this new platform. "In addition to the approximately 1.8 million women in Spain who should receive treatment, only 656,000 actually receive it. And over 1.1 million women remain untreated for osteoporosis".

The stakeholders involved in the platform have developed a set of key recommendations, which centre on improving multidisciplinary collaboration, with a focus on coordination and communication between primary and secondary care; fostering the standardization of the establishment and development of coordinated and multidisciplinary care models, such as Fracture Liaison Services (FLS), as well as increasing awareness about the disease and its devastating consequences among policymakers, healthcare professionals, patients and the general population.  

During his presentation, Dr. Philippe Halbout, IOF CEO, emphasized the importance of post-fracture care coordination programs, such as Fracture Liaison Services (FLS) and stated:
 "The implementation of coordinated and multidisciplinary care models is, without a doubt, a necessary step to both improve the global approach to the disease and the quality of life of patients, and to reduce the health and social costs involved.” This message was reinforced by Dr. Antonio Naranjo, another member of the scientific committee, who also commented on the instrumental role of FLS, stating:  "This is a multidisciplinary model of care for patients who have already suffered a fragility fracture. We have found them to be the most effective organisational structure to increase assessment and treatment after any fracture. “

The Platform for Osteoporotic Fracture Prevention will help advocate for the urgent prioritization of fracture prevention on the national and regional health agenda, linked to healthy ageing policies. IOF is positive that this multidisciplinary platform will play a key role in engaging with policymakers, to advance secondary fracture prevention in the country and ensure osteoporosis patients are benefiting from the highest level of care.