One in two patients unaware they had diabetes

KUALA LUMPUR – One in two patients did not know they had diabetes until a blood sugar screening was performed, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said.

The majority of incidences of diabetes are preventable with good lifestyle habits, and with regular screening the disease can be detected early, he said.


In conjunction with World Diabetes Day this year, he said the ministry advised Malaysians to prevent and control diabetes through healthy lifestyle practices through a balanced diet, an active lifestyle, not smoking, cultivating a healthy mind and by avoiding excessive alcohol consumption.

He said adherence to the treatment and advice of health professionals, as well as adopting a healthier lifestyle will help control diabetes at an optimum level while preventing complications.

“The country is undergoing the COVID-19 pandemic that has not seen any signs that it will end soon. Studies showed that older people, people with obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are at higher risk for COVID-19 virus infection severity and fatality.

“The National Diabetes Registry Report 2013-2019 found that only 32.4 percent of patients who sought care in MOH primary care clinics in 2019 achieved an optimal level of diabetes control,” he said in a statement today.

He said the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019 revealed that 3.9 million (18.3 percent) Malaysians aged 18 and above had diabetes, a significant increase from 11.2 percent in 2011 and 13.4 percent in 2015.

Dr Noor Hisham said diabetes not only has a negative impact on quality of life and health care costs but also increases the economic burden of individuals, families and communities, besides affecting national productivity.

He said the theme “Diabetes: Nurses Make the Difference” was chosen this year to increase the level of public awareness on the important role played by nurses in the prevention and control of diabetes in Malaysia and around the world.

“There is no denying that the role of nurses and other front-line health professionals is crucial in the management of diabetes patients, especially with the increasing number of patients each year,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham advised the public to perform regular health screenings by knowing their Body Mass Index (BMI) status, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol level.

“If you have diabetes, self-monitoring of blood sugar levels (self-monitoring blood glucose – SMBG) is encouraged and it can be done at home using a glucometer,” he said.

The ministry, he added, has formulated various programme and activities related to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including strengthening the Komuniti Sihat Pembina Negara (KOSPEN) programme at the community level to promote a healthy lifestyle and early detection throughout the country.

He also reminded those celebrating Deepavali to practice mindful eating and to continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle, this is in addition to practising the new norms and by adhering to standard operating procedures (SOPs) in daily activities.