Epidemiology and awareness of osteoporosis: a viewpoint from the Middle East and North Africa

Author(s): Tamer A. Gheita & Nevin Hammam

Background: Osteoporosis (OP) is defined by low bone mass and microstructural deterioration. It is an escalating public health problem due to increase life expectancy and the resulting bone fractures represent a significant burden for both the individual and the society in terms of morbidity, mortality and cost. Osteoporosis, a multifactorial disease, results from the interaction between genetic and environmental risk factors. Currently, the data available regarding OP epidemiology and predisposing risk factors differ greatly between regions and within population ethnicities. Proper estimation of the epidemiology of OP and its health related outcomes can help identity those at risk and permit prophylactic treatment before its occurrence. The main barrier towards disease prevention strategies is the impaired awareness of the disease and its risk. Enhanced understanding of the OP disease may influence personal behaviors and reduce its prevalence.

Objectives: This review was undertaken to wrap-up and throw-light on the published literatures related to the epidemiology of osteoporosis in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and expose the extent of awareness in the corresponding populations. Describing and discussing key points on the current state of knowledge on these hot issues are well thought-out.

Conclusion: Osteoporosis prevalence is variable among MENA populations. Limited reports regarding the established prevalence of osteoporotic fractures among those populations and therefore, lack of guidelines for prevention and management were noticed. In order to improve bone health, preventive measures against OP should be considered. Increase OP awareness and preventive practices in the societies as part of the prophylactic strategy need to be initiated.