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PETALING JAYA, Nov 11 — Malaysia is infamous for having the highest rate of diabetes in Asia and the Health Ministry predicts that seven million Malaysians will be diagnosed with the disease by 2025.
These worrying statistics prompted Merck Malaysia to partner with Diabetes Malaysia for the Let’s Make A Change campaign, which aims to raise awareness about prediabetes and how managing the condition can stop or delay it from becoming full-fledged diabetes.
The campaign’s website lets Malaysians take a simple quiz on their health and lifestyle choices and will then calculate their risk for developing prediabetes.
Most type 2 diabetics start by developing prediabetes, which is characterised as having blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic.
Prediabetes does not present itself with obvious symptoms so it’s easy for those with the condition to go on with life none the wiser.
A blood test to determine sugar levels is the only way to confirm if someone has prediabetes but other hallmark symptoms of diabetes — such as frequent thirst, excessive urination, and blurry vision — can also crop up in the prediabetic stage.
Diabetes Malaysia president Professor Datuk Dr Ikram Shah Ismail said it is critical for Malaysians at risk of the disease to be proactive and make full use of their window of opportunity to stop diabetes in its tracks.
“Here at Diabetes Malaysia, we fully understand how challenging it may be to live with or care for someone with diabetes.
“It is better to tackle the disease when it is still in the prediabetic stage, particularly if it is detected early.
“Depending on the patient, diabetes may not be preventable, but treating prediabetes offers an opportunity to at least delay it,” said Dr Ikram in a press release.
Once someone is aware of their risk of prediabetes, they should consult their doctor to get checked and be advised on how they can manage the condition.
Sunway Medical Centre’s consultant endocrinologist Dr Alexander Tan said most of his patients only took action after they were diagnosed with diabetes and by then, it was already too late to reverse the disease.
“Most of the patients I have encountered with diabetes only started doing something about it after they were diagnosed with diabetes, possibly because they were not aware that they had prediabetes or underestimated the seriousness of their condition.
“By then, it was already too late, and they now take medication for the rest of their lives,” said Dr Tan.
Merck Malaysia’s president and managing director Christoph Hamann added that “awareness must go hand-in-hand with action” and hopes that the campaign will encourage Malaysians to take full control of their well-being.
“With Malaysia’s high diabetes prevalence and with prediabetes having no visible symptoms, we feel that this website offers Malaysia the opportunity to inform themselves and take greater ownership of their health,” said Hamann.
For more information on prediabetes and the Let’s Make A Change campaign, visit its official website.