MRC National Musculoskeletal Ageing Network

University of Southampton researchers contribute to new World Health Organization collaboration

Scientists at the University’s MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre and NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre are part of a new international collaboration agreement between the World Health Organization and the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases (ESCEO), aimed at eradicating fragility fractures caused by osteoporosis, with the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) as a key scientific collaborator.

Professors Cooper and Harvey, and Dr Fuggle with Dr Philippe Halbout, IOF Chief Executive Officer, at WHO Headquarters.
Professors Cooper and Harvey, and Dr Fuggle with Dr Philippe Halbout, IOF Chief Executive Officer, at WHO Headquarters.

Prof Cyrus Cooper, MRC LEC Director, IOF President and ESCEO Vice-President, Prof Nicholas Harvey, MRC LEC Director Designate, IOF Committee of Scientific Advisers Chair and ESCEO Scientific Board Member and Dr Nicholas Fuggle, Associate Prof at the MRC LEC and ESCEO Scientific Board Member, attended the signing ceremony at WHO Headquarters in Geneva, 23rd February 2023, for the new five-year collaboration. The agreement was signed by Dr Anshu Banerjee, WHO Assistant Director-General ad interim, Universal Health Coverage/Life Course and Prof Jean-Yves Reginster, President of ESCEO.

The agreement includes the development of a public health strategy and action plan to prevent fractures among older people as well as to improve the coverage of health services for fractures.

As part of the agreement, the collaboration will:

  • develop global estimates on fracture and osteoporosis;
  • review evidence-based interventions to prevent fractures;
  • create an economic model for an investment case in fracture prevention and care;
  • provide guidance to countries on strengthening national health information systems by integrating osteoporosis and fractures in routine data monitoring; and
  • provide guidance to countries on using data to design evidence-informed policies and programmes to reduce the risk of fractures in older people.

WHO will establish a Bone Health Expert Working Group to advance the five-year workplan with support from the International Osteoporosis Foundation and the WHO Collaborating Center for Epidemiology of Musculoskeletal Health and Ageing at the University of Liege, Belgium, which was previously designated by WHO as a technical partner for osteoporosis and musculoskeletal ageing.

“It is an enormous privilege to contribute to this international collaboration, which has the potential to make substantial advances in closing the currently massive treatment gap in the prevention of osteoporotic fractures.”

Prof Harvey

“This collaboration demonstrates the huge value of international collaboration between disease focused societies and the World Health Organization, and represents an unprecedented opportunity to effectively tackle the health burden secondary to osteoporosis, a leading cause of ill health, and indeed mortality, in older age.”

Prof Cooper

Link to the WHO press release:


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