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

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National