Alfian, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The provision of a higher budget and better diagnostic facilities is expected to reduce the prevalence of osteoporosis in Indonesian women, the country's health ministry said.
Communicable diseases and public health director I Nyoman Kandun said the government had provided a strong budget increase to fight osteoporosis.
"We have allocated some Rp 6.3 billion to handle osteoporosis, compared to some Rp 162 million in 2000," he said Sunday.
While unable to give a detailed budget between 2001 and 2006, he said this year's budget "had increased significantly".
This year's budget was mainly allocated to buy expensive diagnosis equipment, Nyoman said.
The government said it had provided osteoporosis diagnosis and evaluation instruments to 20 hospitals in seven provinces.
The hospitals and provinces were chosen based on the necessity and the experts availability.
Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said she hoped the instruments could be helpful to support the effort in fighting osteoporosis disease.
"We need to be aware of osteoporosis because (it can build slowly over) a long time, without any specific symptoms," she said.
"That is why this disease is called the silent epidemic."
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become thinner, fragile -- or "sponge like", Siti said.
A patient with osteoporosis can break their bones easily because of a loss in density or mass.
Some medical literature refers to osteoporosis as the bone thief.
Siti was speaking at a 10,000-step walking event for National Osteoporosis Day which was attended by First Lady Kristiani Herawati and the Vice President's wife Mufidah Jusuf Kalla.
Using figures from the health ministry's records in 2006 and across 16 regions nationally, Kristiani said the number of cases of osteoporosis in Indonesia was higher than the average world's prevalence.
"There are two out of five Indonesians (with a) high risk of osteoporosis compared to the world-wide number of one out of three people," she told Antara.
National Osteoporosis Day falls every October 20 but the campaign program was this year held in November.
The campaign was supported by the Indonesian Osteoporosis Association (Perosi) and the Indonesian Healthy Bone Community.
Siti said the number of osteoporosis cases nationally was due to increased life expectancy, lifestyle changes and pollution.
The 2007 osteoporosis campaign was "Minimize the Risks, Beat Osteoporosis" and was used to promote controllable risk factors of osteoporosis.
Three main manageable risks factors for osteoporosis included a lack of exercise, insufficient nutrition intake -- especially calcium for long period, and unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol.
Siti asked the public to exercise regularly, for at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week, to help build bone mass.
Earlier on Thursday, Perosi chairman Prof. Ichramsjah A Rachman said women more than 50 years of age were more likely to develop osteoporosis.
"Some 22 to 55 percent of Indonesia's elderly women are affected by osteoporosis," he said.
"Another 30 to 40 percent of elderly women are affected by osteopenia, which is the early stage of osteoporosis.
"Osteopenia is like a yellow light telling us to be careful."