Diabetes Epidemic in Malaysia
Mustaffa B.E., (2004) Diabetes Epidemic in Malaysia. Medical Journal of Malaysia, 59 (3). pp. 295-296. ISSN 0300-5283
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National Diabetes Institute, Kuala Lumpur
Some fourteen years ago. I wrote an Editorial in the MJM on diabetes in Malaysia. It could be therapeutic to reflect what has transpired since then. Well, there are still plenty of problems and yet many more challenges, to improving diabetes care in this country. For one, prevalence of diabetes mellitus in Malaysia, both of Type 1 and especially that of Type 2, has increased to epidemic proportions. In my previous Editorial, prevalence was noted to be only 0.650% in 1960 and in the early 1980s, 2-4%. We has made much ‘progress’ since then: surveys in the mid-1990s showed a prevalence of about 8-12% while a recent report of our study undertaken in 1998 showed a prevalence of diabetes amongst rural and semi—urban populations of 14.0% (range 7.1% to 20.3%). We are now six ears since our last survey; it may not be unreasonable to estimate a current prevalence in the range of 16— 18%. Assuming just 40% of the population (estimated at 25 million) are 30 years and above, we should have at least 1.6 million adult diabetics in this country now. That, we must agree, is a sobering revelation especially when we realise that the WHO’s estimate for Malaysia for the year 2025 was only 807 thousand. Surveys have shown that for every two known diabetics, there is at least one more who never know of having the disease (and by extension, may never seek treatment) until irreversible complications set in. Worse still, Type 2 diabetes is seen as no longer a disease of middle or old age — children as young as 10 years old suffering from diabetes (both Type 1 and Type 2) are not an uncommon sight nowadays.
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