NCDs Remain Biggest Killers

PETALING JAYA: Non-communicable chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, remain the world’s biggest killers, said Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah.

“(These diseases) account for an estimated 60% of deaths worldwide. Half of the deaths are due to cardiovascular disease, which is still the number one cause of death globally,” he said in his keynote address at the 50th Malaysia-Singapore Congress of Medicine Friday.

He said lower- and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected as rising incomes and urbanisation result in lifestyle and diet changes which contribute to higher rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

“Many developing countries still lack the sophisticated medical facilities and infrastructure needed to treat these problems effectively. Here in Malaysia, we are lucky to have world-class medical infrastructure and very strong capacities in cardiovascular surgery,” said Sultan Nazrin.

However, he said the complex and expensive treatment required for the treatment of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes is beyond the reach of many Malaysians, adding that heart disease accounts for around 25% of deaths in Malaysia.


“This high level reflects in part our ever-increasing rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, two problems so closely associated that they are increasingly referred to as ‘diabesity’.

“Only 4.4% of the adult population was classed as obese in the 1990s, but the rate is now 18%, with another 27% overweight,” said Sultan Nazrin.

He added that the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes has increased from 11.6% of the adult population a decade ago to 17.5% today.

“Increasing rates of obesity and diabetes in children are, of course, particularly worrying. One study found that 13.9% of 10-year-olds here are obese. This compares to youth rates of 16.9% in the United States, which are themselves among the highest in the world,” said Sultan Nazrin.

He said that Malaysia has also introduced many policies aimed at addressing these diseases, including many aimed specifically at childhood obesity.

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