Sunday November 15, 2009
Diabetes threat bigger than H1N1
BY AUDREY EDWARDS
Health Minister: National Strategic Plan to combat NCD
PETALING JAYA: The country is heading towards becoming a sick nation as far as diabetes is concerned, a health expert has cautioned.
The (diabetes) situation is getting worse. It could get worse than H1N1 or AIDS if the people dont do something about their health, Malaysian Diabetes Association president Prof Dr Ikram Shah Ismail said.
He said a National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2006 showed a prevalence rate of 14.9% for those aged above 30, with a third of Malaysians with diabetes not being aware of it.
The survey also estimated that about 70% of diabetics in the country had poor control over the disease.
About 95% to 98% of those affected have Type 2 diabetes, which is non-insulin dependent.
Dr Ikram said neglecting medication or continuing to indulge in sweet food like ice cream contributed to poor control of diabetes.
And there are those who do not see the doctor regularly, so they dont know what their control is like. The problem with diabetes is that those with a HbA1c reading of more than 10 do not show symptoms. They feel normal even if their blood glucose is high, he added.
The ideal target for good control of diabetes is having a HbA1c (a blood test that provides the average of blood sugar control over a three-month period) reading of 6.5% or lower.
He said Malaysians were also getting diabetes at an earlier age.
They are not healthy because they are not eating healthy food or exercising. Previously, although they had the genes, they did not get diabetes until they were much older, he added.
Consultant endocrinologist Prof Datuk Dr Khalid Abdul Kadir, who is a professor of medicine at Monash University Malaysia, said the countrys increased prevalence rate was similar to that in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
He added the effects of the Governments intervention programmes to promote a healthy lifestyle had not been evident.
Dr Khalid and a team of researchers are studying whether stress increases the risk of humans developing diabetes.
Tests conducted on rats by the team determined stress as a risk factor.
In Putrajaya, Dharminder Singh reported that Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the National Strategic Plan would be launched early next year to combat the rising number of cases of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular problems.
The plan was formulated after the National Health and Morbidity Survey reported the percentage of obese Malaysians aged 18 and above had risen from 4.4% in 1996 to 14% just 10 years later while cases of diabetes among those aged 30 and above rose from 8.3% to over 14% during the same period.
He added that obesity was a worrying trend because it increased health risks.
Liow spoke to reporters after launching the 1Malaysia Brings Diabetes To Light Campaign yesterday.