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‘Check, Confirm, Consult, And Change’ To Combat Prediabetes

The campaign aims to promote prediabetes screening, diagnosis, and management to prevent progression to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

The Stand Against Prediabetes campaign aims to educate and motivate the public to ascertain their personal risk, get tested, and work with health care professionals to manage prediabetes. Photo courtesy of Stand Against Prediabetes campaign.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 – Here are some sobering facts about prediabetes. 

One in 10 people with prediabetes are likely to develop full-blown diabetes within a year, while up to seven in 10 may face the same outcome in 10 years.

In the meantime, these individuals are already at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, vision loss, nerve damage, and chronic kidney disease, even before diabetes has set in.

It has been estimated that about 3.5 million adults in Malaysia may have prediabetes. As there are usually no symptoms, most people are unaware of their condition. Furthermore, they are not likely to get tested for it.

Seeking to help the many who are affected, the ‘Stand Against Prediabetes; Don’t Sugarcoat It’ (SAPd) programme launched a major public health promotion campaign on April 24, officiated by deputy health minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni.  

Bearing the theme ‘Check, Confirm, Consult, and Change’, it aims to educate and motivate the public to ascertain their personal risk, get tested, and work with health care professionals to manage prediabetes so as to reclaim their health.  

The Stand Against Prediabetes Programme

According to Dr Nurain Mohd Noor, president of the Malaysian Endocrine and Metabolic Society (MEMS), the SAPd programme began in 2022. 

“MEMS initiated SAPd and invited the collaboration of seven other medical and allied health societies, as well as the involvement of the Ministry of Health,” she said. 

The societies include Malaysian Diabetes Educators Society (MDES), Malaysian Dietitians’ Association (MDA), Malaysian Family Medicine Specialists’ Association (FMSA), Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS), National Heart Association Malaysia (NHAM), and the Chemical Pathology and Metabolic Medicine chapter, College of Pathologists, Academy of Medicine Malaysia (CPath, AMM). 

SAPd is supported by Merck Malaysia.

Dr Nurain remarked that SAPd managed to attain several important achievements over the last two years. 

“First, we successfully promoted the adoption of standardised prediabetes blood glucose test values in over 200 private chain, independent, and hospital laboratories, as well as over 2,000 government clinics and 100 government hospitals. 

“Publishing these values in laboratory test reports will make it easier for health care professionals and their patients to ascertain the presence of prediabetes, if any.

“Secondly, we trained more than 2,000 health care professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dietitians to enhance their effectiveness in the management of prediabetes. 

“We also published a clinical guide for their reference. For the public, we produced an educational website, booklet and pamphlet,” she added.

The 4Cs Campaign

According to Prof Dr Chan Siew Pheng, chairperson of SAPd, prediabetes is manageable and reversible. This is the key message of the ‘Check, Confirm, Consult, and Change’ campaign. 

To provide a better perspective on the four Cs, Prof Chan shared some highlights from a prediabetes awareness survey conducted by the SAPd team. Photo courtesy of Stand Against Prediabetes campaign.

So as to provide a better perspective on the four Cs, she shared some highlights from a prediabetes awareness survey conducted by the SAPd team in 2023 involving over 5,000 members of the public.

Check Your Prediabetes Risk

  • 76 per cent had never been tested and were unsure whether they had prediabetes. 
  • Yet, 40 per cent of this group had the classical risk factors for prediabetes, namely, being overweight, having a family history of diabetes, and being physically inactive. 

“Checking whether you are at risk for prediabetes is the first step. We encourage the public to take the online risk checker on the SAPd website.

“If the results show that you are at risk, please ask for a simple finger prick blood glucose test at your community pharmacy, private GP clinic, or government health clinic,” said Prof Chan.  

By the end of May, SAPd would have enlisted 700 community pharmacies nationwide to provide complimentary finger-prick blood glucose tests, courtesy of Roche Diagnostics.

Confirm the Presence of Prediabetes

  • More than 60 per cent of the survey respondents did not know the blood glucose range for prediabetes. 

“A finger prick test cannot confirm whether you have prediabetes or not. 

“So, if your results show a higher-than-normal blood glucose level, you will need to get a proper blood test from a laboratory, clinic or hospital,” explained Prof Chan.

Below are the different types of tests available and their respective values.

Consult Your Health Care Professional

  • According to the public survey, 35 per cent of respondents were unsure or disagreed that prediabetes required treatment or intervention. There was general lack of awareness that prediabetes is serious but can be reversed.
  • Majority of respondents regarded health care professionals (doctors, followed by dietitians, nurses, and pharmacists), as trusted sources of information and advice about prediabetes.  

“It can be upsetting if your blood test confirms you have prediabetes.  You may feel unsure of what to do next. This is why it is important to seek the guidance and support of a health care professional. 

“He or she will determine the best approach for you to manage prediabetes with lifestyle intervention and medication, if required. 

“By attending follow-up visits, your health care professional will be able to monitor your progress and keep motivating you to achieve the results you desire,” said Prof Chan.

Change To Reclaim Your Health

There are five pillars of prediabetes management — losing excess body weight by eating a healthy diet, increasing physical activity and exercise, adopting healthy lifestyle habits (i.e. getting enough good quality sleep, managing stress, and quitting smoking, vaping, alcohol, and other substance abuse), taking your medication as prescribed, and teaming up with health care professionals.

According to Prof Chan, people with prediabetes can obtain practical tips to effectively manage these changes by visiting the SAPd website

There, you can also download the e-booklet that summarises the key recommendations contained on the website.

“With the right knowledge and support, individuals can take control of their health and reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Small changes in lifestyle can lead to significant improvements in health outcomes,” said Prof Chan.

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