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NZ comment on Global health study in today's Lancet

NZ comment on Global health study in today's Lancet

Musculoskeletal conditions such as lower back pain and osteoarthritis are among the two greatest causes of disability globally, according to a landmark study by international experts, published in The Lancet today (15th December 2012). The Global Burden of Disease 2010 Project is led by Professor Christopher Murray, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle, the World Health Organisation and involves researchers from around the world.

In the first comprehensive study of the worldwide impact of all diseases and risk factors, musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions such as arthritis and back pain are shown to affect over 1.7 billion people worldwide. This burden has increased by 45% over the last 20 years and will continue to do so unless action is taken.

“This landmark study of the global burden of all diseases provides indisputable evidence that musculoskeletal conditions are an enormous and emerging problem worldwide. They need to be given greater priority for policy and resources as they are in the top four conditions in terms of overall impact on health of the world population along with other major conditions like cancer, mental health and cardiovascular disease,” said the New Zealand co-ordinator for the BJD, Wellington orthopaedic surgeon, Russell Tregonning.

“In New Zealand and globally, health policy has underestimated diseases which affect the quality of lives and independence of people living with them. Instead it has focused on those with high mortality such as infectious diseases, and more recently on cancer and heart disease. Priority should now be placed on dealing with the enormous burden from arthritis, back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions to prevent unnecessary pain and disability.”
In New Zealand, the just released NZ Health Report by the Ministry of Health, confirms that 15% of adults have been diagnosed with arthritis. Based on Statistics NZ data, it means that 530,000 adults are living with arthritis and around 560,000 with chronic pain. Mr Tregonning said despite there being effective ways of preventing and treating these conditions, many people do not have access to them because they are not listed as priority conditions by the New Zealand Government.

He also said that finding that musculoskeletal conditions are among the two top causes of disability globally (just less than mental and behavioural disorders) should drive policy changes for the millions of people living with these painful and disabling problems.

The Bone and Joint Decade is calling for urgent action by the World Health Organisation, the United Nations, and national governments. It also asks for explicit plans to respond to the Global Burden of Disease 2010 results and the new ranking which shows that musculoskeletal conditions have an enormous and growing impact in all regions of the world.

Mr Tregonning is urging the New Zealand Government to give more to the prevention and treatment of these conditions to avoid people having unnecessary disability and pain.


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