In the Middle East? Here’s what osteoporosis prevention societies are doing in the region

The new PAOS regional bulletin shows how member societies are working hard to raise bone health awareness and improve health professional education in the region.

Despite the difficult situation in many Middle Eastern countries, osteoporosis societies across the region continue to work to raise bone health awareness while providing valuable information to the public and education for health professionals in their communities.

In its first regional bi-annual bulletin (PDF) the Pan Arab Osteoporosis Society (PAOS), a member of the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), highlights the activities of some of its 16 member societies – many of which are also IOF member societies in their own right. Together with its member societies, PAOS informs health professionals about the latest research in order to translate new knowledge into clinical practice. Among its many activities, PAOS organizes meetings and workshops, issues publications, and runs study groups and trials. In 2014, the Society will hold its 7th Pan Arab Osteoporosis Congress, organized in conjunction with the Lebanese Osteoporosis Prevention Society (LOPS) and IOF.

Professor Jean-Yves Reginster, Chair of the IOF Committee of National Societies stated,

IOF member societies in the Middle East must be commended for their dedication to osteoporosis education and advocacy, sometimes in the face of extreme adversity. Through their efforts, bone health has been brought to public, health professional and government attention. The societies have also been instrumental in initiating research which provides much-needed epidemiological data for the region.”

Below are several examples of the impressive campaigns and projects carried out by Middle-East osteoporosis societies in the past year (described in more detail in the PAOS bulletin).

Iraq: On the occasion of World Osteoporosis Day in October 2013 the Iraqi Osteoporosis Society organized a scientific symposium in Baghdad for approximately 150 doctors of different specializations.

Jordan: The Jordanian Osteoporosis Prevention Society (JOPS) organized  several lectures to spread awareness among the public and students in schools. JOPS also organized educational lectures for physicians in different cities across Jordan. In addition, the First Scientific Day for osteoporosis ,‘What’s new in osteoporosis’, took place In November with 137 participants from different areas of specialization.

Libya: The Libyan Osteoporosis Society held a scientific symposium which focused on vitamin D, menopausal osteoporosis and general information about osteoporosis management, including FRAX and treatment. One of the take home messages regarded low levels of vitamin D, a serious problem not just in Libya but throughout the region. The message was that daily exposure of the skin to the sun - or vitamin D supplementation if sun exposure is not possible - must be encouraged in order to prevent vitamin D deficiency.

Lebanon: The First National Orthopedic Nursing Congress was held in collaboration with the Lebanese Order of Nurses. As the first of its kind in the Middle East, the Congress highlighted the importance of multidisciplinary treatment of fragility fracture. Earlier in the year, an important nationwide survey of the epidemiology of hip fractures in Lebanon was published. The report found that hip fracture incidence rates are approximate to those in Northern countries, showing the same characteristics, particularly in regard to the exponential increase with age, higher incidence in women, and a recent trend of rates leveling off in women but not in men.

Palestine: The Palestine Osteoporosis Prevention Society (POPS) in partnership with the Palestinian Pediatric Society, organized a national symposium on Children’s Bone Health. It was the first such event in the region and was held under the Patronage of the Palestinian Ministry of Health with the Deputy Minister speaking at the event. Broad media coverage, including on TV, helped to disseminate the importance of pediatric bone health to the broader community.
In December 2013 POPS’ long term advocacy work resulted in an incredible success: Working with the society, the Ministry of Health brought together interested stakeholders to plan and implement a national awareness campaign on osteoporosis. In essence, bone health has been recognized as a national healthcare priority representing a milestone for the future of  osteoporosis prevention and treatment in Palestine.

A 22-hour training course held in April 2014 for a small number of healthcare professionals from Hebron and Bethlehem showed that there is a need future courses to be extended to other parts of Palestine. Most of the participants expressed their willingness to be part of  the local osteoporosis network and to act as ambassadors for osteoporosis at the community level.  

Saudi Arabia: A World Osteoporosis Day public information event on October 24 attracted more than 800 women and men who visited information booths and learned about osteoporosis prevention, bone healthy nutrition, and diagnosis. Two-hundred and seventy-six women were screened for osteoporosis risk.
Syria: In response to the incredibly adverse conditions in Syria, the Syrian National Osteoporosis Society (SYNOS) organized a series of activities to raise awareness of bone health nutrition through societies and charities responsible for helping families in need. At the various informational events, SYNOS offered milk boxes for the children and Vitamin D for women as well as informational brochures about bone health and free bone scans. Activities were also held during the month of Ramadan.

United Arab Emirates: The Emirates Osteoporosis Society’s World Osteoporosis Day activities included two events targeted to different groups within the community. Together with the Zabeel Ladies Club in Dubai, the Society hosted an event at which more than 50 female executive professionals participated. At the opening of the event, the CEO of the hospital services sector in Dubai spoke on the importance of osteoporosis awareness within the community and the responsibility of health care workers to educate the public to make bone health a priority. In addition an informative public event was held at the German Hospital in Dubai. The audience enjoyed the interaction and discussion following each topical presentation. Bone density measurement booths were well attended and informative educational brochures, as well as branded T-shirts and caps were popular take-home items.

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