PUTRAJAYA: They are called silent killers – they kill 40 employees a day or render them incapable of working.
This gamut of non-communicable diseases (NCD) cost Socso RM627,401,831 last year in invalidity payments and survivors’ pension.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot said 8,912 Socso members became invalid and 5,554 died as a result of the silent killers.
“This is a loss to employers and directly leads to a decrease in productivity. Families will be affected as well,” said Riot in a recent interview.
He said Malaysia was facing an epidemic of NCD – a high prevalence of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia among adults, especially those aged above 40 years.
This was also reflected in the claims for invalidity or survivors’ pension made to Socso, where almost 34% and 50% of the claims respectively were due to NCD.
Riot said the high prevalence of NCD was part of the reason why Socso introduced the Health Screening Programme (HSP) in 2013, offering members comprehensive health screening vouchers once they turn 40.
However, out of the 2.1 million vouchers distributed since 2013, only 429,633 members have used them up to June 29 this year.
Of the 206,000 vouchers distributed this year, only 5.6% or 11,601 were used.
Of the 387,028 people who underwent the HSP from January 2013 to Dec 31 last year, 67% had not undergone a comprehensive health screening before.
The HSP found that 39% were overweight, 34% were obese, 27% were hypertensive, 9% have diabetes and a whopping 62% have hypercholesterolemia, that is an abnormally large amount of cholesterol in the blood.
The HSP provides screening for breast and cervical cancer with pap smear and mammogram tests.
The pap smears identified 464 women with abnormal results that needed further investigation.
The examination showed highly suspicious findings for 139 of them and cancer in six women.
According to the mammograms, 988 women had suspicious results that needed investigation while 164 showed signs of highly suggestive malignancy.
“The impact of cancer is immeasurable, which can’t simply be calculated with money or cost,” said Riot.
“Being able to prevent or identify early changes that will prevent further progression of the disease is very important.”
He said the public has heard of HSP but was not fully aware of the importance of utilising the vouchers.
“Personally, I think many Malaysians do not want to know their health status; some may be in denial, which is why they give excuses but the fact is, I think they are just afraid,” he added.