Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Diabetes prevention needed

Diabetes prevention needed

A medical assistant administers an insulin shot to a diabetes patient in India. A new report has found that the Kingdom lacks the resources to diagnose and adequately treat diabetes. AFP
A medical assistant administers an insulin shot to a diabetes patient in India. A new report has found that the Kingdom lacks the resources to diagnose and adequately treat diabetes. AFP

Diabetes prevention needed

Cambodia’s prevalence of diabetes, and the mortality rate stemming from the chronic disease, remains low compared to other countries, but the Kingdom needs to step up its work with non-communicable diseases in order to prevent the system from becoming overwhelmed in years to come, according to a new report.

Diabetes prevalence has seen a higher spike in low- and-middle-income countries than in high-income countries over the past decade, according to a Global Report on Diabetes released today by the World Health Organization.

In 2014, an estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes worldwide, compared to 180 million in 1980. A total of 1,420 people succumbed to diabetes in 2014 in the Kingdom, while another 3,460 deaths were attributed to high blood glucose, according to a country profile released by the WHO.

During the same year, Cambodia had a 5.9 per cent diabetes prevalence rate.

“In Cambodia, if we look at the prevalence of diabetes, it’s still significantly lower than in most countries,” said James Rarick, technical officer with WHO Cambodia.

“But the concern here is that the . . . mortality rate from [non-communicable diseases] is about half of the population now, and it’s been steadily increasing.”

While diabetes only accounted for 2 per cent of deaths in 2014, other non-communicable diseases accounted for half.

“The big challenge for the health care system is to evolve from primarily dealing with communicable diseases to now early detection and management of chronic diseases,” Rarick said.

The WHO is working with the Ministry of Health to provide early detection and treatment for hypertension and diabetes at local health centres, rather than provincial hospitals, though Rarick allowed that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

“It’s still a pretty long way to go . . . given the capacity is still quite low at the health centre level,” he said.

Non-communicable disease epidemics hit in waves, Rarick said. During the first wave, risk factors start to go up; during the second, people start showing up at health centres with severe complications; and once the third wave hits, it could overwhelm the system.

“It’s a myth that NCDs are only a problem of the rich countries,” he said. Ministry of Health spokesman Dr Ly Sovann said that while diabetes prevalence is low in Cambodia, it’s still a concern.

He agreed with the report’s finding that in Cambodia medicine, procedures and basic technology to screen and treat diabetes is not generally available.

“In the future, we need to expand the capacity of new technology, education and prevention to provide good care for people with diabetes,” he said.

Nen Sokha, a Khmer literature teacher at Boeung Trabek High School, lost his 68-year-old father, Nen Kheang, to diabetes last November. In 2014, his father’s diabetes worsened and his kidneys started to fail.

He needed dialysis, but Sokha’s family didn’t trust the few places in Phnom Penh that offered such treatment.

Sokha had to take his father to Vietnam for dialysis, but it got too expensive and burned through most of his savings, and the family had no choice but to bring Kheang back to Cambodia.

“I didn’t know that diabetes could be so dangerous,” Sokha said.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: No more quarantine for vaccinated travellers

    Cambodia is lifting all quarantine requirements for vaccinated inbound travellers entering Cambodia by air, waterway or land border checkpoints effective from November 15. Travellers will be required to take a rapid antigen test on arrival rather than waiting for the results of the lengthier polymerase chain

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested