Diabetes major contributor of death and disability among Malaysians

Event organising chairman, Jong Koi Chong (second left) presenting a souvenir to Dr Azman after the launching.

MIRI, July 14: Diabetes is a significant non-communicable disease (NCD) in Malaysia, and the main complications of diabetes are major contributors of disability and deaths among Malaysians, says Deputy Director-General of Health (Public Health), Dato’ Dr Azman Abu Bakar.

According to him, NCDs contribute to an estimated 73 per cent of total in-patient deaths in Malaysia, with cardiovascular diseases including Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) and strokes being the largest contributor.

He said this at the opening ceremony of the 1st Borneo Diabetes Conference 2018 held at a hotel here on Friday.

The event was jointly organised by Diabetes Malaysia Miri Branch together with Miri Divisional Health Office, Miri Hospital, and Malaysian Medical Association Sarawak.

More than 200 delegates including health care providers from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines are attending the two-day event.

“An estimated 35 per cent of mortalities occur in individuals less than 60-years-old which unfortunately are those who constitute the working population of the nation,” Dr Azman pointed out.

He added that in Malaysia, the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) in 2015 showed a four-fold increase in obesity prevalence from 4.4 per cent in 1996 to 17.7 per cent in 2015; whereas incidences of diabetes increased from 11.5 per cent in 2006 to 17.5 per cent in 2015, or an estimated 3.5 million Malaysian adults.

“We will be repeating the NHMS for NCD risk factors in 2019, and I fear that the prevalence for diabetes will continue to increase… Thus, the theme for this conference “Diabetes: What the future holds?” is apt and timely for discussion,” he said.

He also said a study found costs related to diabetes are estimated to account for 16 per cent of the national healthcare budget, placing Malaysia among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of percentage of health care budget spent on diabetes.

“Another global study estimated that 73 per cent of diabetes-related healthcare costs result from hospitalisation and ambulatory care, as a result of poor blood sugar control,” he said.

The same study also found that only 7 per cent of total diabetes-related healthcare cost is spent on anti-diabetic drugs.

“This means that the cost of diabetes care is driven by cost of managing complications of diabetes… If diabetes patients can be managed well from the early stages of their disease, not only can they have better outcomes, but cost of treatment can be reduced as well.”

Dr Azman pointed out that diabetes is a complex issue requiring complex solutions.

“Diabetes prevention is not only about raising the awareness and knowledge of individuals, families and communities on the determinants of NCDs, but also the role of government in instituting pro-health policies,” he stressed.

“Managing diabetes in patients is also a complex issue, as many factors determine quality of care, including healthcare provider factors, health systems factors and patient-related factors. We must focus on prevention, early diagnosis and good control of diabetes, in the hope of improving the quality of life of our patients, reducing rates of complications, with the additional benefit of delivering cost effective healthcare.”

To achieve better outcomes, he said active collaboration between healthcare providers and patients and their families was needed as people living with diabetes, their caregivers and the society in general need to be educated and offered holistic management of diabetes.

“Health education helps to ensure adherence with the treatment and behavioural modification interventions….Notwithstanding, healthcare providers need to be equipped with the best and updated knowledge of diabetes management for effective and safe delivery of care to the patients.” — DayakDaily