An epidemiological study presented at the 5th Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting is one of the first to project the growing economic cost of osteoporotic fractures in China.
The study, by investigators from the University of Tasmania, Anhui Medical University and Nanjing Medical University, used decision analytic modelling to estimate the burden of osteoporotic fractures. The researchers estimated that in 2010 more than 2.3 million osteoporosis-related hip, clinical vertebral and wrist fractures occurred in the population aged 50 years and over, costing the Chinese healthcare system US$9.61 billion. Women sustained approximately three times more fractures than males, accounting for 73 % of the total costs.
Even more alarming is the fact that the high costs of osteoporosis-related fractures will greatly increase in the future, representing an enormous socio-economic burden in China.
According to a recent International Osteoporosis Foundation Asia-Pacific Audit Report, almost half (49%) of the total population in China will be aged 50 years and over by 2050, and 263 million seniors will be aged 70 years and over - the population group most at risk of costly and disabling hip fractures. Reflecting this expected increase in the ageing population, the researchers project that the annual incidence and costs of osteoporotic fractures will double by 2035. By 2050 the number of fractures is expected to increase to 5.93 million resulting in costs of approximately US$25.58 billion.
As a result there is an urgent need for healthcare resource planning as well as cost-effective screening and intervention policies to minimize the future socio-economic impact of fractures on the Chinese healthcare system.