JointHealth™ express   February 1, 2011

We are asking the leadership candidates of the BC Liberal Party for their commitment to BC arthritis and osteoporosis patients.

Arthritis affects more adults than cancer, heart disease, respiratory conditions or spinal cord trauma. Yet, there are only 54 physicians in BC with rheumatology training and a rheumatology practice. Plus, among other significant gaps, there is no consistent model of care or awareness program across the province.

Unlike other provinces in Canada, in BC, PharmaCare severely limits access to clinically-proven osteoporosis medications . . . until a documented fracture occurs. This restriction endangers the lives and livelihoods of patients and it threatens the efforts of osteoporosis physicians to prevent fractures that lead to short- and long-term disability for their patients.

Although the Government has been reforming BC's drug policy over the past three years, large differences still exist between services provided to British Columbians living with arthritis and osteoporosis and those living with other serious chronic diseases. In all areas of the BC healthcare system, from health promotion strategies to delivery of treatment and care, arthritis and osteoporosis get a lot less funding and attention.

BC needs a sound healthcare framework for those living with these chronic conditions. Developing and carrying out sound policies will save money and reduce pressure on hospitals and waitlists by decreasing or preventing disability for those with arthritis and osteoporosis.

We want the next potential Premier of BC to work to move this province from being one of the worst, for those living with arthritis and osteoporosis, to one of the most progressive in Canada. In a letter that Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) wrote to each of the BC Liberal Party leadership candidates, we asked the candidates to make it their top priority to reform BC healthcare and PharmaCare policy for these two chronic conditions. Click here to view the letter.

We have also asked the candidates to fill out a questionnaire on arthritis and osteoporosis care in BC and to meet with us to discuss solutions to the problem of inadequate resources for the two diseases. When we get their responses, we will post them to the JointHealth™ website. Please stay tuned.

What can you do to encourage them? Write a letter, an email, or call the Liberal leadership candidates. The candidates are: Christy Clark, George Abbott, Ed Mayne, Kevin Falcon, Moira Stilwell, and Mike de Jong. You will find their contact information at the BC Government Directory. Another way you can get the message to the candidates is by writing a letter to the editor of you local newspaper. For suggestions on how to write a letter to a politician or newspaper, please visit our "What you can do" section of the JointHealth website.

Fact sheets on arthritis and osteoporosis are available here: