BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – About 90 percent of kidney dialysis patients are diabetic, the minister of health said in a statement to mark World Diabetes Day on Thursday.

YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar stated that diabetes has caused 800 patients in Brunei to undergo kidney dialysis treatment.

Diabetes has been the third leading cause of death in Brunei since 2012, with the death rate at its highest in 2017 at 10.1 percent.

Coronary heart disease developed from diabetes is the second most common cause of death in Brunei.

The minister said diabetics need to control their disease well to prevent further complications. This can be done through early medical intervention, adherence to medication instructions and healthy lifestyle practices.

“Although there are many factors that contribute to diabetes, research has found that urbanisation and lifestyle are the main factors. These include unhealthy eating habits and an inactive lifestyle,” he said.

Diabetes is a chronic disease caused by the pancreas no longer having the ability to produce insulin or when the body is unable to properly use the insulin produced by the pancreas, thus leading to an increase in blood sugar levels. Prolonged high blood sugar levels can cause damage and failure of organs and tissues in the body.

World Diabetes Day is commemorated every November 14th.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said this year’s theme – ‘Diabetes: Protect Your Family’ reminds all that diabetes not only affects patients but also family members.

The theme outlines three key messages. First is to ‘Discover Diabetes’. YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said early detection requires the involvement of family members in knowing the steps to identify the risk of diabetes. 

“This is because one in two diabetic patients remains undiagnosed. Early detection and proper treatment will have a significant impact on someone at risk of diabetes,” he said.

Second, ‘Prevent Type 2 Diabetes’ by leading a healthy lifestyle. 

“We as Bruneians have a culture that values family bonding. If all family members are eating healthy and exercising together, then the whole family will benefit from it and will be able to promote behaviours that can prevent type two diabetes in the family,” he added.

Third is to manage diabetes. He said every family member plays an important role in the care of diabetic patients. Family support is a key factor in helping patients manage and monitor diabetes.

Diabetes not only affects patients but it can also have a psychological, social and economic impact on a family, the minister said.

Studies from the 8th Edition International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Atlas released in 2017 showed that more than half of diabetic patients feel that their diabetes diagnosis puts pressure on their families. 

“It can be seen from the emotional and financial stress associated with diabetes. Support to families through education as well as access to affordable care and medicines should be enhanced so that diabetic patients can maintain a healthy lifestyle,” the minister said.

The report also stated that over 425 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. This figure is expected to increase to 625 million by 2045 if no action plan is taken to control or address this issue.

The minister urged patients and their family members to make use of diabetic management services at health centres and hospitals.

“This includes the services of diabetic nurse educators, who can not only educate and provide guidance to diabetic patients but also serve as a source and mentor for family members and carers,” he added.