KUALA LUMPUR: Seven million adults, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, are projected to be affected by diabetes in Malaysia by 2025, a worrying trend that will see a 31.3 per cent prevalence of the disease in adults aged 18 years and above.
Speaking at a symposium on Tuesday (Mar 26) titled Diabetes: Disarming the Silent Killer, Malaysian Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said around 3.6 million Malaysians are currently suffering from the disease. This is the highest rate of incidence in Asia and one of the highest in the world.
“This exponential increase is significantly within type 2 diabetes, which is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity,” he said.
The Malaysian government is giving serious attention to this exponential increase, as it is becoming a major economic burden on the healthcare system and the national economy, according to Dr Dzulkefly.
While Malaysia has a parallel public and private system, the majority of treatments for chronic diseases are provided by the public health system, he said. This 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.
The cost of diabetes to the nation is significant, he added.
A macro-economic study done in 2011 showed the cost to be approximately RM2 billion (US$246 million), potentially representing 13 per cent of the healthcare budget for that year.
"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 and if societal costs were included, this cost would be even higher," he said.