Over 1.7 billion people worldwide are affected by musculoskeletal conditions which have the fourth greatest impact on the overall health of the global population, considering both death and disability. This burden is at enormous cost to individuals and society and has increased by 45% over the last 20 years. Decision makers, non-expert clinicians and the public worldwide lack awareness of the scale of the problem and do not understand what can potentially be achieved given higher priority and policies. There are effective interventions that will reduce this burden but they are not implemented with equity across and between countries. Health priorities focus on conditions with high mortality but fail to focus on those which affect a large sector of society and have a negative economic impact through health and social care costs and also on productive work. This is at a time of extended longevity and the need to be productive into older age. The challenges apply in all countries, in all continents. The musculoskeletal community is aware of these issues and the need to influence decision makers. A challenge we have is that there are a wide range of conditions that affect musculoskeletal health and these are managed by a wide range of professionals who do not always work together. The Bone and Joint Decade has created an international alliance that brings together organisations for all such professionals as well as scientific and patient organisations. It considers all conditions that affect musculoskeletal health and works on initiatives to provide the evidence to make the optimisation of musculoskeletal health a public health priority. The Bone and Joint Decade has organised the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health to call for explicit plans by governments, health policy makers at the regional level and the WHO to deal with the large and growing burden of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries on individuals and society through: 1) promotion of a lifestyle that will optimise musculoskeletal health at all ages; 2) Implementation of effective measures to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and injuries; 3) identification and treatment of those who are at highest risk; 4) access to timely, safe, appropriate treatment to control symptoms, and diseases where possible, to prevent unnecessary disability; 5) access to appropriate rehabilitation and self-management programmes to reduce any disability, 6) enabling people to participate in the labour market; 7) research to advance knowledge and care.
Disclosure of Interest None declared