Thursday, 28 May 2015

[Straits Times] Knowledge is power over diabetes

I APPLAUD the reports by senior health correspondent Salma Khalik on the complications of diabetes ("Many diabetics at risk of going blind"; Sunday, and "A new dialysis patient every 5 hours"; May 10).
As a Type 1 diabetic living in Singapore for the last 10 years, I have noticed that while the medical care on offer in Singapore is excellent, the knowledge patients have on the risks and the importance of being accountable for their own disease is lacking.
The reports gave me a needed reminder to go for my own eye test, which I promptly did.
Diabetes around the world is increasing dramatically - many consider it an epidemic - and the need to understand the causes and possible treatments has never been higher.
Approximately one in 10 in Singapore has the disease, and this is on the way up with alarming rapidity. While one needed response is to build, for example, more dialysis clinics to treat those with kidney failure, another is prevention, to help ensure people never get to this stage.
Prevention starts first with an understanding of the disease and how it can be avoided. If you have diabetes, you also have to know how to ensure your blood sugar remains, as far as possible, in the "normal" range.
This requires frequent testing of blood sugar by the diabetic person. These are things that the diabetic person has to commit to doing over the longer term, and may require diet and lifestyle changes.
The Internet is a great place to get information and advice on more traditional medical approaches, and can help fellow diabetics help one another.
It has got to be used carefully, to avoid poor sources of information; but with a disease in which knowledge is very much power, it can have significant benefits alongside mainstream media.
I am looking to not only ensure I am taking responsibility for my own well-being, but also to try to spread the word. I encourage others to do the same and help us beat this disease in Singapore.
Matt Pasterfield