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Global focus on musculoskeletal health

Royal North Shore Hospital clinician researchers are part of an international team calling for musculoskeletal health to become a global priority, addressing a current lack of funding for the world’s leading cause of pain.

The project team found the management of musculoskeletal health is under-prioritised despite its impact on the community, and devised an action plan to address this gap.

It mapped the current landscape for musculoskeletal health, identified trends in national health policies and developed a blueprint to prioritise musculoskeletal health.

Head of the Department of Rheumatology and Kolling Institute researcher Professor Lyn March said more than 1.5 billion people live with a musculoskeletal condition, such as low back pain, fractures, arthritis and osteoporosis, but despite calls to action, health systems have continued to under-prioritise these conditions.

“This important new initiative will provide a global-level strategic response, guiding international health reform and providing a framework for countries to adapt to suit their local needs,” she said.

The blueprint focuses on critical areas for reform, including community education, leadership and governance, health financing models, service delivery models that support integrated and person-centred care, equitable access to medicines and technologies, building capacity in the health workforce to deliver the right care at the right time, population health surveillance, and research and innovation.

“The blueprint is practical and can inform what a global strategic response might look like and how countries can respond to musculoskeletal health in order to arrest the increasing global burden of disability and cost,” Lyn said.

The international team involved researchers from Curtin University, the Kolling Institute, the University of Sydney, the University of Toronto, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Kathmandu University and the University of Southern Denmark.

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