Malaysia is facing an increasing burden of diabetes over the last decade. The prevalence of diabetes in Malaysia is in fact reported to be the highest in the Western Pacific Region, standing at 17.5%, based on findings of the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2015. Furthermore, ethnic differences in the prevalence of diabetes in Malaysia is pronounced with the highest prevalence among the Indians at 22.1%, followed by the Malays (14.6%) and the Chinese (12.0%).
In response to this situation, the National Diabetes Institute (NADI) Malaysia has been organizing the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Series for diabetes prevention and management since 2002. In 2008, these CPD series were expanded to become Diabetes Asia Conference to provide a platform for discussion on the threat posed by diabetes and the unique presentation and management amongst Asians.
Dr. Eliana Ahmad, a Doctor of Public Health candidate from the University of Malaya, presented a paper titled Body Mass Index (BMI) as Lifestyle Mediator in the Association between Ethnicity and Glycaemic Control Among Type 2 Diabetes Patients during the recent Diabetes Asia 2018 Conference that was held in Borneo Convention Centre (BCCK) Kuching, Sarawak from 26th till 29th July 2018. Her study was supervised by Associate Professor Dr Nirmala Bhoo Pathy and Professor Dr Sanjay Rampal, from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Malaya. In her study, Dr Eliana examined the role of BMI as a mediator in the association between 11 major ethnic groups in Malaysia (Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Dusun, Bajau, Other Sabah, Iban, Bidayuh, Melanau and Other Sarawak) and glycaemic control. The study which utilized data from 338,348 primary care patients registered in the Malaysian National Diabetes Registry from the year 2011 until 2015 showed that BMI mediated the association between ethnicity and glycemic control particularly in the Chinese, Indians, Bajaus, Ibans, and Melanaus. The finding suggests that control of BMI should be a focus in secondary prevention of diabetes in Malaysia. Notably, this presentation has won the Best Award for Oral Presentation during the Diabetes Asia 2018 Conference in Kuching, Sarawak.