Dr. Kevin Yip

Dr Kevin Yip
Orthopaedic Surgeon
MBBS(UK), FRCS(EDIN), FAM(SING), FHKCOS(ORTHO)

Featured on Channel NewsAsia

Doctors warn osteoporosis will be more prevalent in Asia

SINGAPORE : Doctors have warned that osteoporosis, a bone disease that leads to an increased risk of fractures, will become more prevalent in Asia.

The problem could be made worse by the region’s rapidly ageing population, as well as under-diagnosis and treatment.

82-year-old Charlie Daniel had two mild falls two years ago, fracturing his hand and vertebra – one of the more common fractures caused by osteoporosis.

He was wheelchair-bound for ten months. A six-week treatment was all it took to get him walking again.

Despite higher mortality rates – with one out of three dying within a year – hip fractures form about 25 per cent to 50 per cent of osteoporotic fractures in Singapore. This is lower than the 50 per cent to 75 per cent of vertebra fractures from osteoporosis.

But for many, osteoporosis is under-diagnosed and under-treated.

Dr Manju Chandran, vice-president, Endocrine & Metabolic Society of Singapore, said: “Osteoporosis is recognised as a disease of ageing. As you grow older, this is something you get, so live with it. That mentality should change.

“But again, with all these awareness programmes and talks we give to allied healthcare professionals, nurses are great on the ground personnel who can help in picking up osteoporosis patients. With all these, we should see a reversal trend.”

With 14 DXA Machines available in Singapore to test for osteoporosis, Dr Manju said: “Since Singapore doesn’t lack diagnostic tools to access osteoporosis, I think it befalls on healthcare professionals to ensure that the right person is picked up and treated.”

Dr Manju highlighted this problem at the launch of the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) in Singapore.

With the partnership of 196 osteoporosis societies worldwide, the IOF collects data from Asian countries. Another 32 members are pharmaceutical, device, nutrition/food, packaging and research companies.

The non-governmental organisation predicts that by 2050, Asia will see over half of the world’s osteoporotic fractures.

Prof John A Kanis, IOF president, said: “The first step is to understand the size of the problem and to get good statistics in other countries. We have that information for Singapore, but we don’t have information from India, an enormous country, (and) from Indonesia, an enormous country.

“So we need to document the size of the problem. Then we need to try and make a forecast how that’s going to be changed, and then we have to make sure that facility for diagnosis and treatment are there, and then we can turn our attention to how we can prevent this in the future.”

To encourage countries to make osteoporosis a healthcare priority, the IOF will hold its first Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting in Singapore from December 10 to 12. Up to 1,000 healthcare professionals from all over the world are expected to attend.

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