In an attempt to combat the escalating risk of diabetes among city-dwellers, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has launched the ambitious “Diabetes-Free Thais” campaign.
Launched in 2022, this initiative aims to shine a light on pre-diabetes conditions and underline the critical importance of early detection and intervention in slowing the progression of diabetes.
73% of 7,500 participants surveyed during last year’s campaign were identified as having a high risk of developing diabetes. This daunting statistic prompted the Diabetes Association to call for assistance in raising awareness among target groups within the city.
The Challenges of Urban Lifestyles
Thailand is home to over 5 million diabetes patients, a large portion of whom reside in bustling cities such as Bangkok. Urban lifestyles, defined by hectic schedules and limited time for exercise and healthcare, significantly contribute to the development of diabetes. BMA Deputy Governor Tavida Kamolvej underscores this critical issue.
To combat this, the BMA’s Health Department is stepping up its efforts. They’re planning to employ proactive and passive measures to identify at-risk individuals within communities. This is achieved by offering them suitable treatment and vital health advice. Health practitioners and volunteers are also embarking on door-to-door campaigns to stress the importance of primary healthcare and early disease detection. These are crucial factors that could lead to significant cost savings on treatment expenses.
A Collaborative Crusade Against Diabetes
Tavida expressed optimism that the collaboration arising from the campaign would improve the city’s primary healthcare standards. It could even potentially pave the way for future initiatives, such as the establishment of hospitals and research institutes solely dedicated to diabetes treatment and prevention.
Reducing Sugar Consumption: A Step Forward
Last month marked the launch of another pivotal front in this battle against diabetes. It was the launch of a campaign by the Public Health Ministry focused on curbing the sugar intake among Thais. Advisor to the deputy public health minister, Tianchai Suwanpen, highlighted that the campaign’s key message urges people to limit their sugar intake to no more than 25 grams or six teaspoons per day. This recommendation is in response to a report highlighting that many Thais far exceed this amount. Therefore, the Department of Health is urging beverage makers to cut down the sugar content in their sweet drinks from the current 6% to 5% per serving size. This multi-faceted approach targets not just individual habits but also industry practices, further intensifying Thailand’s determined fight against diabetes.
The Grim Numbers
The Department of Disease Control (DDC) has reported a worrying rise in diabetes and hypertension diagnoses each year. Last year, hypertension diagnoses rose by 3%, totalling 6.8 million. Meanwhile, diabetes diagnoses experienced a steep 10% rise, amounting to 3.3 million.
These conditions aren’t benign. If left unchecked, they can lead to chronic kidney failure, cardiac diseases, and paralysis, warns DDC director-general, Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong.
Urgent Action Required
“Diabetes-Free Thais” and similar campaigns hold undeniable importance considering these alarming figures. With their focus on early detection and intervention, they serve as vital platforms for promoting healthier lifestyles and combatting the silent epidemic of diabetes.
Public awareness and active participation are crucial if we’re to turn the tide against diabetes in Thailand and broader Asia. Together, we can ensure a healthier future for all.