Growing incidence of diabetes worries Dr Yii

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KUCHING: Both the federal and state governments must step up efforts and campaigns to encounter the rising incidence of diabetes in the country including in Sarawak.

In making this call, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii pointed out that COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of this issue and exposed the danger of patients with non-communicable disease (NCDs) such as diabetes as up to 88 per cent of deaths are among those with NCDs.

He disclosed that he paid a courtesy visit to Diabetes Malaysia Kuching which is located along Jalan Maxwell to better understand their activities and programmes to help curb this disease.

He had allocated some funds to the society for its expenses and will continue to support upcoming activities including a Diabetes Camp and other activities to help patients adjust their lifestyle and be more complaint to what is needed to manage the condition.

“Based on the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019, there are approximately 3.9 million Malaysians living with diabetes. The prevalence rate has risen from 13.4 per cent in 2015 to 18.3 per cent in 2019 which is equivalent to one in five adults in the country, giving Malaysia the title of “Sweetest Nation in Asia”.

“Recent years, the numbers are estimated to be more, with national prevalence up to 21 per cent and Sarawak up to around 18-19 per cent. Such numbers are continuing to increase, experts estimate that seven million Malaysian adults are likely to have diabetes by 2025, a worrying trend that will see diabetes prevalence of 31.3 per cent for adults aged 18 years and above,” he said on Saturday (May 21).

He stated that diabetes causes a range of severe complications such as amputations, heart complications, kidney failure, and nerve damage.

As such, he said more must be done to raise public awareness on this important topic to try nip the problem in the bud.

“In 2021, the first-ever Malaysian Diabetes Index (MDI) revealed that Malaysians may not fully understand diabetes and its resultant health complications

“More than half (52 per cent) of respondents revealed that they do not know that diabetes cannot be cured, while 51 per cent think that diabetes is not difficult to manage. What’s more startling is that about 1 in 3 respondents (37 per cent) with diabetes do not know what the abnormal blood sugar level readings are,” he explained.

He noted that with the limited awareness levels on diabetes, more must be done to increase awareness of the seriousness of this issue.

Elaborating , he said diabetes itself could be the silent killer among the population as it affects every part of the body from head to toe and it does not only have a bodily cost but also economic cost with the government spending upward of few billions to treat diabetic patients on a yearly basis.

“That is why, more must be done to educate the public that diabetes is not just about sugar alone and that managing blood sugar levels solely will not prevent other related health complications.

“This includes empowering patients to improve adherence to therapy and increasing awareness of healthy living and encouraging lifestyle changes,” he said.

He suggested that the Ministry of Health (MOH) continue to develop policies to promote and enforce healthier lifestyles including collaborating with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to bring such campaigns to school.

He said it is important to start educating on healthy diets and lifestyles from a young age as diabetes is affecting more and more young people.

“This is indeed an urgent issue which requires a whole of nation approach including involving a consortium of public and private players.

“Governments, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical-device companies, data-analytics organisations, academic and research institutions, media, consumer associations, medical associations, and many others could be involved,” he added.

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