11 May 2011

PUTRAJAYA: Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic lung diseases, are on the rise among Malaysians.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the situation was worsening every year with more young people becoming victims and dying from them.

He said of the 47,266 deaths in government hospitals last year, 17,667 were caused by NCDs. In 2008, of the 45,000 deaths, 17,000 were due to NCDs.

Of the 17,667 people who died of NCDs last year, 5,278 were aged below 55.

He said heart disease and stroke were the top five most common causes of death.

“Up to 80 per cent of heart diseases, stroke and type 2 diabetes and over a third of cancers could be prevented by eliminating shared risk factors, mainly tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

He said the number of non-communicable diseases among Malaysians had reached a critical level because 21.5 per cent of those above 18 were smoking; 43.7 per cent in the same age group were physically inactive, 29.1 per cent overweight, 14.0 per cent obese and 20.6 per cent had high level of cholesterol in the blood.

“We have 2.8 million Malaysians smoking, 5.5 million physically inactive, 1.7 million obese, 1.4 million with diabetes, 4.8 million having hypertension and to make matters worse Malaysia now ranked 6th among Asian countries with high adult obesity rate,” Liow said.

He said the health ministry’s focus next year would be to reduce the prevalence of NCDs through seven main strategies, including research and surveillance, clinical management, increasing patient compliance and working with non-governmental organisations, professional bodies and other stakeholders.

It is learnt that RM40 million has been allocated to tackle the problem next year, which has been declared a health awareness year with the theme “Towards a Happier and Healthier Malaysia.”

This article was published in www.nst.com.my on 15 December 2010.