PUTRAJAYA: Although 3.6 million Malaysians are confirmed diabetics – the highest rate in Asia – many more are unaware that they actually suffer from this disease, says the Health Ministry.
What is even more worrying is that seven million adults, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, are projected to be affected by diabetes in Malaysia by 2025.
For every Malaysian diagnosed with diabetes, another one would still be undiagnosed, said Dr Feisul Idzwan Mustapha, non-communicable diseases deputy director at the Health Ministry's disease control division.
"The proportion of those undiagnosed with diabetes is high in Malaysia because despite availability and accessibility of health screening, many Malaysians are not getting their health screened.
"For every one who is diagnosed there is one who is undiagnosed, and I'm just talking about diabetes, not even other diseases, which are also high in number.
"Diabetes will remain asymptomatic, or showing no symptoms, for many years. But it takes just a simple finger-prick test to find out," said Dr Feisul at the World Diabetes Day 2019 celebration and launch of the Sama-Sama pilot project here on Thursday (Nov 14).
Realising the importance of promoting the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes, the Health Ministry and Danish multinational healthcare company Novo Nordisk has collaborated on the Sama-Sama project.
Targeting the participation of 100 diabetes patients in Putrajaya and their families, the Sama-Sama project will empower family caregivers in diabetes management and disease prevention.
"What we are trying to do is improve the knowledge and skills of the patients' family members in diabetes management.
"That's the primary outcome that we will evaluate," said Dr Feisul.
Novo Nordisk international operations executive vice president Maziar Mike Doustdar said the company, which produces half of the world's insulin, wanted to be a part of the solution to Malaysia's diabetes problem.
"We consider Malaysia a strategic hub because of our collaboration with the Health Ministry and the government in general and also because there is a public health challenge in diabetes and obesity in the country.
"We would like to be part of the solution because no single entity can tackle the disease on their own.
"Private-public partnership is needed and the Sama-Sama project is an example of such a partnership," said Maziar.
The pilot project, which will run for a year, will see participants being recruited through the four public health clinics located within Putrajaya.
"We chose Putrajaya for the pilot project because it has one of the highest prevalence of diabetes in the nation but also has some of the best infrastructures.
"In Putrajaya, accessibility to primary and secondary care facilities are second to none," said Maziar.