The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Worldwide Conference of Osteoporosis Patient Societies opened on March 23rd at the Fortezza da Basso congress centre in Florence, Italy, welcoming some 100 member society representatives from more than 30 countries.
IOF’s 237 member organizations within the Committee of National Societies (IOF) are all too often the only advocates in their countries which champion patients’ rights to early diagnosis and treatment of a disease which, left untreated, can lead to debilitating and often life-threatening fractures.
The bi-annual Conference aims to enhance the member societies’ important work and celebrate their considerable achievements. It is a unique opportunity for the societies to exchange ideas and learn new skills through a broad range of workshops and lectures on topics such as advocacy, fundraising, and secondary fracture prevention.
On March 23rd, the Conference opened with a Workshop session looking at current challenges and future needs in advocacy, fundraising, Fracture Liaison Services, campaigning and events. This was followed by a plenary session featuring invited speakers C Parsons Perez from the NonCommunicable Diseases Alliance; E. Thompson from the European Lung Foundation; T. Thomas from GRIO; T Baroghel from AlternativesPharma; and M. Joanisse from the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative. As well, several successful initiatives carried out by member societies were highlighted in a special session featuring presentations from Panama, Armenia, UK, and Spain.
On the second day, delegates attended ‘The Patient Perspective’ session where they heard a patient presentation from Finland and experienced a live simulation to understand the patient experience. Positive lifestyle habits were the focus of expert talks on nutrition (R. Rizzoli); vitamin D (B. Dawson-Hughes); Exercise guidance ‘Too fit too fracture’ (F. Jiwa); and the ‘Don’t fall, Don’t break’ digital prevention programme (K. Zalatnai).
Further highlights at the Conference were the launch announcements of the upcoming Global Calcium Map and the IOF Global Patient Charter. The patient representatives were encouraged to sign on to the IOF Global Patient Charter and to use this as a tool to generate awareness and policy action in their countries.
IOF was also pleased to present various awards to member societies, as follows:
Secondary Fracture Prevention Contest: the winning society was the Taiwan Osteoporosis Association which was recognized for outstanding efforts in raising awareness of secondary fracture prevention.
Best 2016 World Osteoporosis Day (WOD) Campaign: The Syrian National Osteoporosis Society (SYNOS) was commended for its great effort to raise awareness of bone health among children and their mothers. The WOD events included a bone health conference for children and a drawing competition.
Famida Jiwa, Chair of the IOF Patient Societies Subcommittee, noted,
The IOF Worldwide Conference of Osteoporosis Patient Societies is a signature bi-annnual event which is eagerly anticipated by IOF's member societies. It provides the societies with important insights and the unique opportunity to network and learn from one another. I'd like to thank all the excellent speakers who shared their knowledge and experiences. Thanks to you we return home with new ideas and renewed energy that will help us meet the challenges we all face in our daily work at the national level."
IOF thanks AMGEN for the unrestricted educational grant in support of the IOF WWC.