Diabetes: a deadly but controllable disease

As the COVID pandemic persists, another disease remains under the radar as one of the Philippines’ leading causes of death - diabetes.

Diabetes, a serious and chronic metabolic disease characterized by an increase in blood sugar levels, is one of the major causes of death in the Philippines. Based on recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (2021), diabetes has claimed 37,265 lives last year (2020) despite the unprecedented COVID- 19 pandemic.

“Diabetes is a deadly disease, but it can oftentimes be taken for granted,” said Dr. Aurora Macaballug, Board Member and Chair of the Advocacy Committee of the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism (PSEDM). “What not a lot of people know is it can be controlled and managed as long as patients stick to the treatments prescribed by their doctors.”

MSD in the Philippines, Mercury Drug Corporation (MDC), Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism (PSEDM), and Philippine Association of Diabetes Educators (PADE) recently hosted

“Mga Ano at Bakit ng Diabetes”, a press briefing aimed to raise awareness about diabetes and advocate for greater medication adherence to improve patient outcomes among Filipinos with diabetes, as part of MSD’s Kontrolado Ko, Diabetes Ko (KKDK) campaign.

Apat Dapat, Education, and Accessibility - Key to Diabetes Management

According to Dr. Macaballug, four elements have to be met to successfully manage diabetes. Dubbed as Apat Dapat, patients can take control of their condition through (1) exercise, (2) proper diet, (3) regular intake of diabetes medication/insulin, and (4) regular consultations with a physician.

Adherence, which means taking prescribed medication with the right dose and frequency, is one of the 4 pillars of PSEDM’s advocacy to managing diabetes. And while the patient is largely responsible in adhering to Apat Dapat, healthcare providers recognize the need for more proactive support.

“Managing one’s diabetes is not easy. That’s why we try to help people cope with the illness through more proactive support, beginning with education,” said diabetes nurse educator and PADE President Leyden Florido. “The more they know about their disease, the better they’re equipped to cope and manage it.”

Pharmacists have also expanded their support for diabetes patients during the pandemic, as they have become one of the more accessible healthcare professionals in the community. “We can help patients understand the dangers of chronic diseases like diabetes and the importance of prevention and adherence,” said Mercury Drug representative and pharmacist Nellie Calipjo. “Patient adherence requires a lifestyle change and will be better accepted if access to medicine, counseling, and other care items are readily available. This is the inspiration behind our Get Well Diabetes Care Hub, a one-stop-shop section in select Mercury Drug stores dedicated to the needs of patients with diabetes,” she added.

In the end, the best outcomes for people with diabetes will depend on the changes they make to their lifestyles to follow prescribed treatments.

Through the Kontrolado Ko, Diabetes Ko campaign, MSD continues to collaborate with medical societies and the health care industry to remind Filipinos about the importance of making impactful changes to one’s lifestyle to manage diabetes and promote better health outcomes.

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