Doctors and public health experts called for raising awareness around musculoskeletal disabilities and speeding up prevention and treatment solutions along with comprehensive policy decisions and action.

Musculoskeletal disorders are injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs.

With the rise in senior citizen population in India suffering from musculoskeletal disorders and a significant number of people affected by osteoarthritis, bone and joint issues amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the third edition of the India Arthritis and Osteoporosis Conclave 2021, organised in New Delhi on Sunday during World Arthritis and Osteoporosis Week, focused on early diagnosis, encouraging people, particularly senior citizens, to come for timely customised treatment and community and rehabilitative solutions at the local level.

The conclave saw participation from more than 1,100 delegates, in a hybrid format, with representatives from the ministry of health and family welfare, ministry of home affairs, Director General Health Services, Indian Orthopaedic Association, Delhi Orthopaedic Association, All India Institute of Medical Science, Delhi Medical Council as well as corporations, educational institutions, many well-known orthopaedic surgeons and pulmonologists, along with faculty experts from Mumbai, Goa, Jhansi, Varanasi, Nagpur and Bhopal.

Dr Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, the CEO and the managing director of Fortis Healthcare delivered the keynote address onlin while Dr Arun Gupta, the president of Delhi Medical Council was the present as the ‘guest of honour’ and addressed the audience in person.

The sessions saw many speakers placing emphasis on forging alliances between caregivers and the community, national programmes for the elderly, challenges in providing quality are during lockdowns, managing musculoskeletal disabilities aggressively and need for skilling of healthcare workers.

“Covid-19 has given us many important learnings to adopt approaches and strategies for other diseases as well. It has taught us the value of local self-sustained and self-sufficient healthcare with implementation at ground level,” Dr Dhananjay Gupta, the organising chairperson of IAOC 2021 said.

“There is an urgent need for skilled manpower and trained healthcare workers at village and mohalla levels to conduct health camps and spread awareness among the community on the benefits of early diagnosis and timely treatment. We also require digital connectivity and facilities to strengthen online consultations to improve access to remote care, track cases and ensure compliance. In addition, a strong local supply chain and support for financial rehabilitation of needy patients is a must. For this we need multi-stakeholder support from Government, healthcare bodies and public health specialists,” Dr Gupta, who is also the director of orthopaedics department at Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj, said.

Dr Raghuvanshi stressed that “multi-speciality tertiary hospitals alone cannot cater to the huge numbers of patients and senior citizens seeking life-saving care from across India, particularly for musculoskeletal disability.

“We need to increase connect between healthcare providers and the community to improve access. District levels hospitals must have dedicated MSK rehabilitation centres with surgical units and resources must be allocated for central level tertiary care centres for advanced surgery, orthosis, prosthetics and post operative care,” the CEO of Fortis Healthcare said.

He urged the non-profit organisations and think tanks to help with financial and rehabilitative care and placement of the differently-abled in suitable positions.

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