Diabetes to hit 1 in 5 Malaysian adults by 2020

A view of Hospital Balik Pulau in Penang. An increasing number of patients with diabetes are seeking treatment at government clinics. — file picture
A view of Hospital Balik Pulau in Penang. An increasing number of patients with diabetes are seeking treatment at government clinics. — file picture

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PETALING JAYA, Feb 3 — If the disturbing increase in the number of non-communicable diseases (NCDs, including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease) is left uncontrolled, Malaysia is likely to be burdened with an unhealthy population, according to a health ministry expert.

The ministry’s public health specialist Dr Feisul Idzwan Mustapha said this burden will affect productivity and would have a negative impact on the country’s socio-economic development, which can possibly delay the progress in achieving developed country status by year 2020.

“Based on the results of the National health and Morbidity Surveys the prevalence of diabetes could be 21.6 per cent for adults by 2020,” he said.

Dr Feisul, who is from the Ministry’s NCD section, said the impact can be seen now, as an increasing number of patients with diabetes are seeking treatment at government clinics.

Meanwhile, there is an increase hospital admissions due to complications from diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.

Dr Feisul said individuals and communities need to take responsibility for their health.

“Excess food intake and a decrease in physical activity has caused the increasing trend of obesity among Malaysians,” he said.

Dr Feisul said the local governments and the Ministry of Youth and Sports would have to look into promoting the use of available and accessible facilities for exercise to increase the level of physical activity among Malaysians.

“The police department will also take part in personal safety for protection from personal harm, while people are out exercising,” he said.

Though Dr Feisul said behavioural change does not come easily, “pro-health” policies are needed to create a supportive living environment to achieve positive changes.

“Many policies and regulations on promoting a healthy environment lie outside the responsibility of the ministry.

“Therefore, we want the support of other ministries and stakeholders outside of the health sector in changing communities’ behaviour,” he said.

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