The number of diabetics is continuing to rise and the more worrying statistic is
that the disease is claiming more younger Malaysians as among its victims.
The most recent National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) shows that almost double those in the 30 to 39 age group were afflicted with the disease compared to five years earlier in 2006.
With one-in-five adult Malaysians over 30 already a diabetic, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said this situation could impact the economy and lower quality of life, particularly when complications of the disease set in.
“The fact that it is affecting younger people, which in turn has an effect on productivity as well as the economy, is very worrying. It also leads to a lower quality of life,” he said.
Some 2.6 million adult Malaysians aged 18 and above are diabetics and this figure is projected to hit 4.5 million by 2020, according to the 2011 NHMS.
The survey also shows an increasing number of diabetic patients across all age groups – almost doubling from 4.9% (in the 2006 survey) to 9.4% for those aged between 30 and 34 years, and from 6.4% to 10.9% for those between 35 and 39. For those in the 40 to 44 age group, the increase is from 10.3% to 17.6%; and those between 45 and 49 – from 15% to 20.6%.
“Besides genetic predisposition, diabetes is a lifestyle disease brought on by unhealthy eating habits. We have also had a change in the nature of our jobs from one that was labour-intensive to a sedentary one where there is little physical activity,” said Dr Subramaniam. He also said there were an estimated 53% of Malaysians who were still undiagnosed. “What this means is that patients are likely to seek treatment late and it will be costly to treat diabetes-related complications when they seek treatment,” he said.
Dr Subramaniam said the rising number of diabetics and late diagnosis continued to strain the public healthcare system.He cited a 2010 study which estimated the cost of treatment for diabetes to account for 16% of the national healthcare budget or RM2.4bil. “This is a substantial amount,” he said. He said the impact was already being seen with an increasing number of diabetic patients at public health clinics and rising number of hospital admissions due to diabetic complications.
The Star 14 Nov 2013
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