LCQ22: Prevention and treatment of osteoporosis

     Following is a question by the Hon Alice Mak and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Chui Tak-yi, in the Legislative Council today (January 24):
     Recently, some community groups have relayed to me that the elderly, especially women, have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. As osteoporosis has no obvious symptoms, quite a number of women were not diagnosed with osteoporosis until they received treatment for fractures caused by collisions or falls. Regarding the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows the current number of osteoporosis patients in Hong Kong, together with a breakdown by the patients' gender and bone mineral density (BMD) test scores;
(2) whether it knows the number of new confirmed cases of osteoporosis in various public hospitals in each of the past 10 years, and the respective numbers of osteoporotic persons who, after sustaining fractures, (i) were admitted to hospitals for treatment, and (ii) died from complications (with a breakdown of such numbers by gender);
(3) whether it knows the respective numbers of BMD tests performed on women in the various (i) public hospitals and (ii) Woman Health Centres (WHCs) under the Department of Health (DH) in each of the past five years, as well as the respective average waiting times for receiving such tests;
(4) of the current role of WHCs under DH in promoting the prevention of osteoporosis; the number of health talks on osteoporosis held in WHCs in each of the past five years and their contents; and
(5) whether it will consider bringing the BMD test into the scope of the routine health assessment services provided by WHCs and the Maternal and Child Health Centres under DH; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
(1) and (2) The Hospital Authority (HA) and the Department of Health (DH) do not maintain statistics on the number of osteoporosis patients.
(3), (4) and (5) The bone mineral density (BMD) tests are performed on patients according to needs mainly for the purposes of diagnosis or follow-up treatment. Most of the patients receiving BMD tests are non-urgent cases/non-inpatients. The HA does not maintain statistics on the number of BMD tests performed and the average waiting time for such tests.
     The Family Health Service of the DH provides Woman Health Service for women aged at or below 64 at its three Woman Health Centres and 10 Maternal and Child Health Centres, including health education, assessment and counselling. Nevertheless, the Woman Health Service does not provide BMD tests in view of the absence of adequate scientific evidence to support osteoporosis screening programme for the whole population or all women. In addition, osteoporosis is a chronic metabolic disease of the bone, which is not limited to women and can also occur in men. Individual members of the public belonging to higher risk groups may consult their family doctors to assess the suitability of taking a BMD test to determine whether they have developed osteoporosis.
     The health education provided by the Woman Health Service of the DH covers bone health and osteoporosis prevention, and advocates the importance of adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle to prevent the disease. Health education messages are disseminated through such channels as health talks, individual counselling, leaflets and websites. The DH also regularly reviews the health education resources for promoting bone health to meet the needs of the community. As the information on the prevention of osteoporosis with a healthy lifestyle is included in health talks on various topics, it is not possible to separately identify the number of relevant talks conducted.

Ends/Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Issued at HKT 12:48