The Launch of IOF

The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) traces its roots to its predecessor organizations: the European Foundation for Osteoporosis (EFFO), created in 1987, and the International Federation of Societies on Skeletal Diseases (IFSSD), established in 1995.

Recognizing the need for a single, global organization to bring together scientists, doctors, the patient society movement and corporate partners, the governing bodies of EFFO and IFSSD agreed to merge to form the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

IOF was launched in September 1998 at the European Congress on Osteoporosis held in Berlin. The EFFO and IFSSD members comprised 74 national osteoporosis societies from 46 countries. EFFO’s president, Professor Pierre D. Delmas, and Mary Anderson, EFFO’s executive director, assumed the same positions in IOF.

At the time, Dr. André Prost, director for non-communicable diseases at the World Health Organization (WHO) noted, “The timing could not be better for the formation of IOF. The World Health Organization has identified osteoporosis as a priority health issue along with other major non-communicable diseases.”

Since 1998 there have been many milestones in IOF’s development, reflecting the growth and increasing importance of the global osteoporosis movement.

Key Milestones

Osteoporosis was not officially acknowledged and defined as a disease by the WHO until 1994. Since its inception, IOF has worked to nurture and expand the global osteoporosis movement through its support of member societies, educational programmes, scientific leadership and public outreach. Key milestones include:

1998 – The European Commission (EC) issues a report and recommendations for action against osteoporosis in the European Community. EFFO and later IOF assists in the publication and dissemination of the report.

1999 – Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan becomes IOF patron (until 2012).  The 5th Worldwide Conference of Osteoporosis Patient Societies in cooperation with Osteoporosis Canada is organized by IOF- which thereafter continues to organize the biannual conferences in cooperation with member societies.

2001- Following the publication of the first audit report, which showed disappointing progress in Europe since 1998, IOF initiated the launch of the of European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group, which issued a ‘Call to action’ to spur government action against osteoporosis in Europe.

2002 - IOF was awarded a grant from the EC for a policy project entitled Call to Osteoporosis Action. This project brought together policy makers from the European Union and its member states, and osteoporosis experts, to form an EU Osteoporosis Consultation Panel.

2003 - The National Osteoporosis Foundation (USA) joins IOF, whose membership now represents all regions of the world. IOF offers the inaugural IOF Linda Edwards Award - the first award to recognize the work of new osteoporosis patient societies.

2004 – For the first time, IOF stages the IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis outside of Europe or North America. The congress is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The US Surgeon General issues the first report on osteoporosis in the USA, helping to raise attention to the disease in the USA and around the world.

2007 – IOF establishes 'IOF Diagnosis Course' with optional densitometry certification (until 2012). IOF's Bone Appétit World Osteoporosis Day campaign is awarded 

2008 – The Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX), a new method to assess 10-year fracture risk, is implemented, with IOF providing assistance in outreach and development. The CSA establishes Working Groups to focus research efforts and promote the publication of IOF position statements on various important topics.

2009 – The IOF World Wide Conference of Osteoporosis Patient Societies is held in China for the first time. The publication of the Asian Audit report, quantifying the burden and status of osteoporosis in Asia for the first time, was the first in a series of regional audits that have had immense media and policy impact.

2010 - IOF holds its first IOF Regionals meeting. The 1st Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting is held in Singapore. IOF also opens its new regional office in Singapore. The first IOF Young Investigator Awards are presented

2011 – IOF holds the 1st Middle East & Africa Osteoporosis Meeting in Dubai and concurrently publishes the Middle-East & Africa Regional Audit, the first of a series of regional osteoporosis audit reports. A regional office for the Middle-East & Africa is opened in Dubai. Regional Advisory Councils are elected in Asia, the Middle-East & Africa and in Latin America. IOF issues its first e-newsletter, BoneBlast - a monthly newsletter which highlights the latest IOF activities. 

2012 – A new Board was announced, featuring for the first time equitable regional representation with four representatives from each of the five regions. IOF was granted Roster Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. A greater focus on muscle and joint health is introduced within all aspects of the organization’s programming: This reflects their importance to overall skeletal health and the promotion of active ageing in seniors. IOF launches a new website which also hosts the first of several interactive maps. Launch of a new joint IOF-ISCD international course, Osteoporosis Essentials with optional densitometry Attestation of Achievement. IOF launches OsteoLink, the first online communication forum for people with osteoporosis or an interest in bone health. 

2013 – IOF launches Capture the Fracture, a multi-stakeholder global campaign to prevent secondary fractures through the implementation of Fracture Liaison Services worldwide. IOF partners with the International Society for Clinical Densitometry to provide an innovative global training course for health professionals.

2014 – IOF issues its first patient-oriented e-newsletter 'LoveYourBones' and begins a campaign to reach the aspirational goal of ‘1 million + 1’ members in an effort to further expand the global, grassroots movement on behalf of bone, muscle and joint health.

Read 1997-2002: 15 Years of Fighting Osteoporosis (PDF, 604 KB)