16 February 2011

THERE are 1.2 million Malaysians who are diabetic and about half of them are unaware of the disease.

Normah Medical Specialist Centre (NMSC) consultant nephrologist Dr William Chau said the number of people suffering from diabetes worldwide would double by 2030 from the current 171 million.

“There are 3.2 million deaths every year attributed to complications of diabetes with six deaths every minute.

“The top 10 countries are India, China, the United States, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil, Italy and Bangladesh,” he told a press conference in conjunction with Diabetes Month at NMSC in Kuching yesterday.

He said the disease had incurred an overall direct healthcare cost of between 2.5% and 15% of annual healthcare budgets depending on local diabetes prevalence and the sophistication of the treatment available.

Chau said there were two basic forms of diabetes, one of which produced very little or no insulin in patients while, in the other, the patients could not use insulin effectively.

“The first type of diabetes requires daily injections of insulin to survive while the second type can sometimes be managed with lifestyle measures. Oral drugs are often required, and less frequently insulin, to achieve good metabolic control,” he said.

He said that siblings and children of those with type one diabetes were at greater risk of getting the disease while people with a family history of diabetes, overweight and who do not exercise regularly were at risk of the second type.

“The symptoms could be frequent urination, weight loss, unusual hunger, fatigue, etc,” he said.

He added that recent studies in China, Canada, the United States and several European countries had shown that feasible lifestyle intervention could prevent the onset of diabetes in people at high risk.

“Good diet, exercise, medication and education are prevention measures that can be taken,” he said.

This article was published in www.thestar.com.my on 19 November 2010.