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‘Screening for non-communicable diseases vital to cutting premature mortality’

Health minister cites stats showing high prevalence of NCDs among nation’s elderly

KUALA LUMPUR – The implementation of health promotion and screening programmes related to the four main types of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is critical in reducing premature mortality among older adults in Malaysia.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said NCDs remain the largest contributor to premature mortality, and the four main types are cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes.

“It cost the nation approximately RM8.91 billion, 0.65% of the national gross domestic product, based on the report by MoH (Health Ministry) and World Health Organisation,” she said in a video during a conference titled “Living Your Golden and Best Years: Health Is Wealth” here today. 

Dr Zaliha said according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) conducted in 2019, the prevalence of NCDs among seniors is high – with 76.5% of Malaysians aged 60 and above having at least one. 

“This is a concern as it could lead to a surge in NCD-related death in the future. Hence, health screening and regular health checks are crucial, especially for seniors… in fact, many NCDs are preventable if detected early as regular health checks can identify potential health problems before they become serious,” she said.

She added MoH is open to working with non-governmental organisations and civil society to create awareness of these diseases. Hence, it is vital for seniors to undergo health screening and regular health checks for early detection of NCDs as it can improve treatment outcomes and prevent complications. 

Meanwhile, Third Age Media Association founding president cum Malaysian Coalition On Ageing chairman, Cheah Tuck Wing, said health screening is not just limited to cancer but also recommended for other chronic diseases.

He said according to the NHMS conducted in 2019, one in four Malaysians are not physically active. Hence it is recommended that people should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. 

At the conference, Third Age Media Association and Universiti Malaya signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct research on various aspects of ageing as well as promoting healthy ageing. 

“We hope that this collaboration will bring about improvement in general healthcare and the well-being of seniors in Malaysia,” he said. – Bernama, April 29, 2023

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