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What is the Bone and Joint Decade?

The Bone and Joint Decade is the only organization that brings together all stakeholders across the globe, considering all musculoskeletal conditions and providing access to high-level policy makers. Created in 1998 and launched in 2000 The Bone and Joint Decade is an umbrella organisation, that gains its strength from bringing together national and international professional, scientific and patient organisations. It is endorsed by the UN and WHO and support has been declared by over 60 governments. In 2010 the Decade renewed its mandate for another 10 years with the Vision “Keep People Moving”.

The Bone and Joint Decade is focused on health policy and evidence with a mandate to develop strategies and set the agenda, aimed at improving quality of life by implementing effective prevention and treatment through its unified voice and global reach.

What is the impact of Musculoskeletal Conditions?

Consider the following:

Joint Diseases

  • Joint diseases such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and more than 100 other forms of inflammatory conditions affect several hundred million people worldwide. This figure is set for a sharp increase due to the predicted doubling in the number of people over age 50 by the year 2020.
  • Joint diseases are the leading cause of disability in the United States and account for half of all chronic conditions in persons age 65 and over.
  • Osteoarthritis affects over 135 million people worldwide. It is the fourth most frequent cause of health problems in women worldwide and the eighth in men.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis affects over 20 million people worldwide.


  • Worldwide osteoporosis, in which the bones with insufficient mineral become fragile and fracture easily, affects one in two women over age 50 (more than breast cancer) and one in of four men over age 50 (more than prostate cancer).
  • Osteoporosis-related fractures have almost doubled in the last decade. One in every three women over age 50 will suffer a fracture caused by osteoporosis.
  • In the USA, more than 1.5 million fractures each year are caused by osteoporosis. Today, 10 million Americans already have osteoporosis and 18 million more have low bone mineral mass, placing them at increased risk for fracture. The rate of osteoporosis-related fractures and the costs of caring for these fractures are expected to rise by almost 50% to more than three million fractures costing $25.3 billion by 2025.
  • A hip fracture is considered the most preventable cause of seniors’ loss of independence — up to 50% of people suffering a hip fracture are never able to walk independently again.
  • The frequency of hip fractures from osteoporosis will double in Asia and Latin America in the coming decades.

Back Pain and Spine Disorders

  • Up to 80% of people will suffer from back pain during their lives, while 50% of the working population will experience incapacitating back pain at least once a year.
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for workplace sickleave, and back pain is the second most frequent reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by the ‘common cold’.
  • Approximately 200,000 people in the US live with a disability related to spinal cord injury.
  • Spinal cord injuries cost the US an estimated $9.7 billion each year. Pressure sores alone, a common complication, cost an estimated $1.2 billion.

Childhood Musculoskeletal Conditions and Trauma

  • There are nearly 300,000 children in the US with juvenile arthritis or rheumatic disease.
  • Almost 30% of girls and 40% of boys will sustain an injury to their bones or joints before age 16. Sports, play, and traffic incidents are the most common causes.
  • In the US, over 775,000 children under age 15 are treated in hospital emergency departments for sports injuries each year.
  • A single knee injury early in life can increase the risk for osteoarthritis in adulthood five-fold and a hip injury could more than triple the risk.

Road Traffic Trauma

  • Every 30 seconds, someone dies from a traffic accident on the world’s roads.
  • Every year, 23 to 34 million people worldwide are injured in road traffic accidents.
  • 25% of health expenditures of developing countries will be spent on road trauma-related care by the year 2010.
  • Road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death and disability for people under age 45.
  • Approximately 75% of road deaths are men, partly attributable to preventable causes such as high-risk behaviours (i.e. speeding, drink driving, and lack of safety measures while operating a motorcycle).

What has the Bone and Joint Decade Achieved in the last ten years?

The years 2000 to 2010 have been 10 years of achievement. In a number of countries Musculoskeletal Conditions (MSC) has gained public and political priority and non-communicable diseases are moving up the agenda in regional and global organisations such as the US NIH, EU, UN, and WHO. The Bone and Joint Decade has played a major role in raising the profile of MSC and is proud to have been involved in a number of high-level collaborations:

  • European Strategy for Non-communicable Diseases (WHO)
  • Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries (WHO and World Bank)
  • Road Safety including World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention (UN)
  • The Burden of Musculoskeletal Conditions at the Start of the New Millennium (WHO)
  • European Action Towards Better Musculoskeletal Health (EU)
  • Global Forum for Improved Trauma Care
  • WHO ICD Revision Musculoskeletal Topic Advisory Group
  • BJD global standards for chronic musculoskeletal pain; hip fractures; undergraduate education

What will the Bone and Joint Decade achieve in the next ten years?

Over the next ten years the Bone and Joint Decade will continue to raise recognition of the importance of musculoskeletal conditions at global, regional and national levels by:

  • raising awareness of the burden of musculoskeletal conditions
  • developing sustainable networks
  • increasing knowledge of the suffering and costs of musculoskeletal conditions
  • empowering people to prioritise their own care
  • improving access to cost-effective prevention and treatment
  • increasing research into musculoskeletal disorders, prevention and treatment
  • providing access to supportive information

How will the Bone and Joint Decade achieve its goals?

A Strategic Action Plan has been developed to concentrate efforts on achieving the objective of priority for musculoskeletal conditions.

The Strategic Action Plan was presented at The Bone and Joint Decade World Conference, Lund, 10-11 September 2010 and discussed in detail by the individual delegates and representatives of the National Action Networks and supporting organisations.

As a result of these round table discussions the most important and feasible actions that will gain priority for musculoskeletal conditions were identified and these will now be worked on at national, regional and international level.

The Strategic Action Plan defines 8 programmes of work that are all aimed at the global objective of raising priority for musculoskeletal conditions on the global and national health agenda. The programmes are:

  1. Advocacy: To raise awareness of public and policy makers of the burden of musculoskeletal conditions and what can be achieved by implementing effective prevention and treatment
  2. Partnership: To develop sustainable networks at global, regional and national levels
  3. Surveillance: To increase knowledge of the suffering and cost to society associated with musculoskeletal conditions
  4. Public and patient education: To empower people to gain priority for their own care
  5. Prevention and control: To improve access to cost-effective prevention and treatment
  6. Research: To increase research that will advance understanding of musculoskeletal disorders and improve prevention and treatment
  7. Knowledge management: To provide access to information that will support the objectives of the BJD
  8. Organisation fit for purpose: To develop a sustainable global organisation able to carry out the mission, objectives and programmes of the Strategic Action Plan for 2010-2020

Who supports the Bone and Joint Decade?

The Bone and Joint Decade is supported by more than a thousand national and international patient, professional, scientific organisations and journals. Bone and Joint national coordinators are established in 96 countries, while Bone and Joint Decade National Action Networks are driving the agenda and goals of the Bone and Joint Decade in a further 61 countries. The Bone and Joint Decade is endorsed by the UN and WHO and support has been declared by over 60 governments.

Why is it important to support the Bone and Joint Decade?

The vision of the Bone and Joint Decade is a world where prevention, treatment and care of people with musculoskeletal disorders is of a high standard and consistently accessible in order to improve the health-related quality of life for people with, or at risk of, musculoskeletal disorders.”

The treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries should be among the leading major health concerns in the minds, actions and funding priorities of international health agencies, governments, non-governmental organisations, medical and research communities, funders, media and the general public.

To support the Bone and Joint decade is to support an organisation dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by musculoskeletal conditions across the globe.


The global alliance for Musculoskeletal Health International BJD Secretariat:


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