Minister sounds alarm on rising diabetes rate among Malaysians

Dzulkefly said currently, some 3.6 million Malaysians are suffering from the disease, the highest rate of incidence in Asia and one of the highest in the world. — AFP pic
Dzulkefly said currently, some 3.6 million Malaysians are suffering from the disease, the highest rate of incidence in Asia and one of the highest in the world. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — An alarming seven million adults, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, are estimated to be affected by diabetes in Malaysia by 2025, a worrying trend that will see diabetes prevalence of 31.3 per cent for adults aged 18 years and above.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said currently, some 3.6 million Malaysians are suffering from the disease, the highest rate of incidence in Asia and one of the highest in the world.

“This exponential increase is significantly within type two diabetes, which is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity,” he said when officiating the 3rd Cambridge-Oxford Sunway Biomedical Symposium titled ‘Diabetes: Disarming the Silent Killer’ here, today.

He said that the government is giving serious attention to this exponential increase, as it is becoming a major economic burden on the healthcare system and national economy.

Dzulkefly said although Malaysia has a parallel public and private system, the majority of treatment for chronic diseases is provided by the public health system that is heavily subsidised by the government.

“The impact of diabetes on society is substantial as it can impose a large economic burden on people with diabetes and their families in terms of out-pocket medical bills, loss of family income associated with disability and premature death and caring for disabled members,” he said

Dzulkefly said the cost of diabetes to the nation is significant and a macro-economic study done in 2011 showed the cost at approximately RM2 billion, potentially representing 13 per cent of the healthcare budget for the year 2011.

“This represents the cost of treating diabetes itself and also that of its complications. The sensitivity analysis reflects that this national cost could be as high as RM3.52 billion, if societal costs were included, this cost would be even higher,” he said.

The one-day programme held at Sunway Medical Centre here brings together world-renowned specialists to discuss the latest trends and developments in acute/general medicine through a blend plenary lectures and breakout workshops on a wide range of topics. — Bernama