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900,000 Sabahans may have diabetes

Published on: Friday, December 06, 2013

Kota Kinabalu: Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Edward Yong said close to 30 per cent of Sabahans aged 18 and above are thought to be afflicted with diabetes.

He said if based on a 30 per cent sampling of the population of the State which numbers close to three million, this would mean close to 900,000 Sabahans are estimated to be afflicted with the disease with or without their knowledge.

"The latest figures revealed the number of registered diabetes patients is 21,773 in government clinics statewide, while those registered with government hospitals statewide number 49,052 patients as of today.

"These numbers of course do not include those who choose instead to go to private institutions and clinics for treatment, " he said.

Yong said there are also those who may not be aware they already have the disease to begin with.

"The problem is many people don't tend to go for regular medical check-ups and only go to the hospital for a check-up when their condition is already critical and they already have a serious medical problem."

He said as such it was important for Sabahans to get early health screening to detect signs of chronic diseases so it can be controlled and prevented from becoming worse, especially for those with risk factors which include obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle and poor diet.

Yong said this at the launching of the State-level World Diabetes Day celebrations 2013 with the slogan 'Come adopt a healthy lifestyle', organised by the Sabah Health Department, at the Sabah Federal Administration Complex Auditorium, Thursday.

He said the objective of the celebrations was to increase awareness among the public on the risk and dangers of diabetes and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle to prevent the disease.

"According to the National Health and Morbidity Studies 2011 the prevalence of diabetes in Malaysia has increased in five years from 11.6 per cent to 15.2 per cent in 2011 among Malaysians aged 18 and above.

He said the main contributor to the increase was Malaysians who were not aware of their sugar levels."

Yong said non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes and also including heart disease and hypertension, cancer and chronic lung disease were preventable and controllable.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2010 , Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of premature death in developing countries including Malaysia . Sixty per cent of deaths in the world are caused by NCDs.

He said the prevalence of hypertension was 32.7 per cent and the prevalence of those suffering from high cholesterol level is 35.1 per cent among Malaysians.

"This shows that we are exposed to a high risk of chronic diseases."

Later, Yong also took the opportunity to tour the health and medical displays and exhibition booths set up in conjunction with the event.

Also present at the event was State Health Department (Public Health) Deputy Director Dr Jamail Muhi.