More Than A Million Adults In Malaysia Are Not Even Aware They Have Diabetes

Dubbed as the "silent killer", diabetes is one of the leading causes of death globally in the past 15 years.

Around 2.5 million adults aged 18 and above in Malaysia have diabetes

The unflattering statistics puts Malaysia as the country with the highest rate of diabetes in Asia.

This was revealed by National Diabetes Institute (NADI) executive chairman Datuk Dr Mustaffa Embong when met by Bernama reporters at the 10th Diabetes Complications Conference and Grand Rounds (DCOM) 2018 in Kuching, Sarawak on Tuesday, 24 July.

Bernama reported Mustaffa as saying that Malaysia's diabetes rate is also among the highest in the world, after Saudi Arabia.

Prior to this, Professor Dr. Nor Azmi Kamaruddin, the chairman of Clinical Practice Guidelines Development Group said in 2015 that more than a third of adults above the age of 30 in Malaysia would have developed diabetes by 2020, matching the numbers among urban dwellers in the Middle East.

Nor Azmi made the statement after he cited the rate of growth in the number of patients with diabetes in Malaysia stayed high at 80% between 1996 until 2011.

Meanwhile, it was also pointed out that about half of Malaysians who have diabetes are unaware of their condition

National Diabetes Institute (NADI) executive chairman Datuk Dr Mustaffa Embong

Image via Bernama via New Straits TImes (NST)

"According to NADI records, statistic suggests that almost half of Malaysians do not know that they have diabetes.

"Most of the time Type 2 diabetes do not have any symptom at all until you develop a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, going blind, and amputations," Mustaffa was quoted as saying by Bernama.

Mustaffa added that this was why diabetes has been regarded as the "silent killer" disease

The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that diabetes is one of the leading causes of death globally in the last 15 years, with diabetes killing 1.6 million people in 2016. This was an increase from less than one million in 2000. 

According to Diabetes Malaysia (formerly known as Persatuan Diabetes Malaysia), Type 2 diabetes accounts for at least 90% of all cases of diabetes and can go undetected for many years.

Image via NST

Previously, Director General of Health, Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah stated that Type 2 diabetes has remained prevalent in Malaysia due to poor lifestyle and made worse by co-existing medical problems including obesity.

"One of the main issues in the management is screening of the disease at an early stage in order to prevent complications and treat them early," he said in his foreword for the Clinical Practice Guidelines: Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (fifth edition) report. 

In other news, the main cause of the recent hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) outbreak in Penang has been identified by health authorities:

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