World Diabetes Day is the primary global awareness campaign focusing on diabetes and is held on 14 November each year. Despite increasing efforts to tackle the disease globally, we have not had much success. Malaysia has seen the number of diabetes rising each year, despite various efforts to bring down the number. We are not alone. We know that no country in the world has managed to reduce its prevalence of diabetes. Being a country, where half of our adult population is either overweight or obese, tackling diabetes is going to be a huge challenge.
It is a fact that during the early stage of Diabetes or any other non-communicable diseases, people do not show any symptoms of the diseases. Thus, without any health screening, we tend to feel that we are healthy. This is supported by the findings from the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019, whereby half of those with raised blood sugar did not even know that they were suffering from the condition.
We are facing challenging times with COVID-19 pandemic that does not seem to end soon. Global and local evidence shows us that people living with NCDs such as Diabetes and Hypertension have a higher likelihood of severe disease and death. Health screening is the pivotal key step in early detection of non-communicable diseases. It has been proven time and again that early detection saves lives. Treatment can be commenced early, thus, preventing further complications.
A basic health screening is almost free in our health clinics. The government has various health programmes that allows Malaysians to get a health screening anywhere in our country. However, uptake is very low. A quick reality check, how many of us adult Malaysians have done a basic blood sugar or blood pressure check in the past 6 months?
Screening is simple. For the basic parameters such as the blood pressure and blood sugar, head to your local GP, your community pharmacist or nearest health clinics. We can even screen ourselves in the comfort of our own homes.
This World Diabetes Day, we would also like to encourage everyone to take charge of your own health and of your family members. Screen yourselves and your family members health regularly, seek proper medical help, and maintain your healthy lifestyle. It is the best gift you can give yourselves.
DR NURHALIZA ZAKARIAH
DR ARUNAH CHANDRAN
Dr Nurhaliza and Dr Arunah are both part of LeAD-NCD Malaysia, a group of healthcare professionals who are passionate about improving non-communicable diseases in Malaysia.
Photo credit: Medical photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com