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14 November 2017





1.   Every 6 seconds, someone in the world dies from diabetes. In Brunei Darussalam diabetes is the 3rd leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease. Diabetes is a serious life-long health condition that occurs when the amount of sugar in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. If left untreated, high blood glucose levels can cause serious health complications such as blindness, kidney failure, diabetic coma and amputations. Furthermore, people with diabetes are also two to four times more likely to experience heart attacks and strokes.


2.   To help tackle the threat of diabetes, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) observe this year's World Diabetes Day with the theme 'Women and Diabetes – our right to a healthy future'. This theme promotes equitable access for all women at risk of or living with diabetes to medicines, technologies, self-management education and information that enables them to achieve optimal diabetes outcomes and gain more insight into preventing type 2 diabetes. Alhamdulillah, in Brunei Darussalam, we are very fortunate that the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has provided equal access to any medical services for all the citizens regardless of gender.


3.   At present, 1 in 10 women are living with diabetes, that is, about 199 million women globally. By 2040, it is estimated that 313 million women will have diabetes. Our latest survey data from 2016 indicate that women in Brunei Darussalam are at higher risk of diabetes than men with 10.3% in women, compared to 9.1% in men. Furthermore, two out of every five women with diabetes are of a reproductive age. Women with pre-existing diabetes have a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications such as miscarriage, pre-eclampsia (a condition in which blood pressure rises and causes organ damage), stillbirth (a baby born dead), and a baby born with birth defects. During pregnancy, these women may experience worsening diabetic eye disease and accelerated progression of kidney disease.


4.   Meanwhile, for diabetes that occurs during pregnancy in non-diabetic women (termed gestational diabetes), these women are advised to have annual diabetic screening following delivery and to maintain a healthy lifestyle even though the diabetes resolves after delivery. This helps to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, approximately 1 in 7 births are affected by gestational diabetes and developed complications such as larger than normal babies (macrosomia) causing risk of birth trauma, newborns having low blood sugar (neonatal hypoglycaemia), risk of death during the time of birth and risk of the baby being obese and developing type 2 diabetes when older.


5.   Knowing how much of an impact gestational diabetes has, it is important for us to identify women at risk of developing the condition and the risk factors. This includes obesity with body mass index greater than 30 kg/m2, previous large baby weighing 4.5kg or more, previous gestational diabetes, family history of diabetes, and Polycystic ovarian syndrome (a condition which affects women's hormones causing irregular menses and fertility problems).


6.   With an increasing prevalence of diabetes, people who are at risk need to actively adopt a healthy lifestyle. Up to 70% cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented by eating healthily, being physically active and maintaining a normal weight.  Furthermore, weight loss of at least 7% can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


7.   As the primary caregivers in their household, women have a special role to play in this battle. They prepare meals for their families, educate their children in both work and play, and have a major influence on the health behaviours of their families. Healthy women make for a healthier Brunei. On this World Diabetes Day, we urge all individuals to join us in committing to reduce the harm caused by diabetes.


8.   The Ministry of Health – in line with our three strategic priorities which are to enhance the quality of service delivery, prevent and control noncommunicable diseases, and to inculcate that health is everyone's business – we will work closely with various stakeholders including government, non-government sectors and support group members to continue to engage with patients and the public to prevent, control and treat diabetes in Brunei Darussalam.




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