Diabetes on the rise among Malaysians

PETALING JAYA: Without undergoing a screening, an estimated one in two Malaysians are unaware that they are diabetic.

Citing findings from last year’s National Health and Morbidity Survey, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said about 18% of Malaysians aged 18 and above had diabetes; noting that this was an increase from 11.2% in 2011 and 13.4% in 2015.

In a statement to mark World Diabetes Day yesterday, he pointed out that this year’s theme is “Diabetes: Nurses Make the Difference”.

“There is no denying that the role of nurses and other front line health professionals is crucial in the management of diabetes patients, especially with the increasing number of patients each year.”

He said the public should adhere to the treatment and advice of health professionals, besides adopting a healthy lifestyle as diabetes is preventable.

“Prevent and control diabetes through healthy lifestyle practices. Practise a balanced diet, an active lifestyle, do not smoke, cultivate a healthy mind and avoid excessive alcohol consumption, ” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham also advised people to have “health ownership” by getting regular health screenings by knowing their BMI status, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol level.

“If you have diabetes, self-monitoring of blood sugar levels is encouraged and it can be done at home using a glucometer, ” he added.

He also said the Health Ministry had been working with the community to promote healthy lifestyles and early detection of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by strengthening the Komuniti Sihat Pembina Negara programme.

This intervention programme would be conducted more effectively and extensively towards empowering the community to adopt a healthier lifestyle, he added

He noted that in 2017, it was estimated that the total burden of NCDs such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer on the national economy came up to about RM100bil.

Diabetes accounts for RM10bil of that amount.

In terms of the cost of productivity loss, a total of RM5.7bil was reported for diabetes, compared to cardiovascular disease (RM2.9bil) and cancer (RM357mil).

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