Bone and Joint Decade Canada Goes International
James P. Waddell, M.D., FRCSC
Coordinator, Canadian National Action Network
for the Bone and Joint Decade
The International Steering Committee of the Bone and Joint Decade met on the Gold Coast of Australia on October 13th & 14th, 2007. This meeting was preceded, as has been the case in the last three years, by a patients' meeting to address patient-centered issues of significance to the Bone and Joint Decade. Colleen Maloney was present for the patient meeting and participated fully in the Bone and Joint Decade meeting that followed. She was a great representative for Canada and added to our presence at the event.
Prior to the Bone and Joint Decade meeting, Mr. Tom Fullan and I had been invited to speak to the Australian Orthopaedic Association regarding efforts by the Bone and Joint Decade to improve patient access to care in Canada. We were able to report on our efforts to engage government at all levels to recognize the need for improved access to orthopaedic care (in particular for patients with hip and knee arthritis) and shared with our hosts the strategies that had been developed around improved access, increased patient care efficiency, improved outcomes and the resulting decrease in waiting times for this particular intervention.
Also at the Australian Orthopaedic Association meeting, the Bone and Joint Decade International held a special session on osteoporosis and a number of strategies were put forward to improve orthopaedic surgeon's awareness of osteoporosis, appropriate diagnostic tests and mechanisms for ensuring patients had appropriate treatment once the diagnosis had been established. There remains a tremendous problem on a world-wide basis of appropriate investigation, diagnosis and treatment of these patients but in the industrialized countries, health care payers are beginning to realize that the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis will effectively reduce the fracture rate in these patients and in turn, will result in very significant financial savings and prevention of human suffering.
From a personal perspective, the most interesting portion of the Bone and Joint Decade meeting was a morning spent on health economics and health care funding. This session was organized by the Australians and featured prominent Australian academic health economists who presented a global approach to the problems confronting society in terms of providing appropriate care and demonstrating the economic benefits of prevention rather than treatment. This fit nicely with our own initiatives in terms of osteoporosis, the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation's Because You Can! programme regarding child and adolescent health, the many efforts of the COA in terms of injury prevention, and our own local efforts in the Bone and Joint Decade of decreasing the cost of care by improving efficiency of care.
All-in-all, I thought it was a rewarding meeting. The final highlight of which was having Mr. Tom Fullan made an International Ambassador for the Bone and Joint Decade, thereby recognizing his tremendous contributions to the Canadian effort.