Category Archives: Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs)

Dr. Matthew Phillips – ‘Metabolic Strategies as Therapies in Cancer and Neurodegeneration’

(video link:

Dr. Matthew Phillips is a full-time clinical and research neurologist at Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, New Zealand. His foremost passion is to explore the potential feasibility, safety, and efficacy of metabolic therapies, particularly fasting and ketogenic diets, in creating alternate metabolic states that enhance neuron bioenergetics and may lead to improvements in not only the symptoms, but also function and quality of life, for people with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and a variety of additional neurological disorders.

Upon completing his Neurology training in Melbourne, Dr. Phillips realised that he had no interest in going the usual route of further specialising in a particular neurological disorder. He wanted to specialise in a therapy, but no such fellowship existed. Thus, he bought a one-way ticket to the other side of the world and departed the medical system, travelling and working in different places for three years, creating his own self-taught fellowship during which he learned about a variety of therapeutic possibilities that he had never previously considered.

Upon completing his 3-year “fellowship” it dawned on him that metabolic strategies, particularly fasting and ketogenic diets, were promising therapeutic options for a range of disorders. He re-entered the medical system by commencing work as a neurologist in New Zealand, where his colleagues have helped him to apply these strategies to a number of humanity’s most difficult neurological disorders so as to determine whether they are feasible, safe, and can make an impact in terms of helping patients. This has resulted in his team conducting a world-first randomised controlled study of a ketogenic diet in Parkinson’s.

The Canadian-born, Australian-trained neurologist ultimately wishes to help create a new field of Metabolic Neurology that emphasises applying metabolic strategies in healthcare so as to potentially heal many difficult disorders at their core, with the overarching goal being the improved health and enhanced nobility of humanity.

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Urgent action needed to tackle stalled progress on health-related Sustainable Development Goals


20 May 2023 – Geneva – The World Health Organization (WHO) released the 2023 edition of its annual World Health Statistics report with new figures on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and the latest statistics on progress towards the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report with data up to 2022 underscores a stagnation of health progress on key health indicators in recent years compared with trends seen during 2000-2015. It also alerts us to the growing threat of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and climate change and calls for a coordinated and strengthened response.

COVID-19 cost in lost lives and health progress

The report documents updated statistics on the toll of the pandemic on global health, contributing to the ongoing decline in progress towards the SDGs. During 2020-2021, COVID-19 resulted in a staggering 336.8 million years of life lost globally. This equates to an average of 22 years of life lost for every excess death, abruptly and tragically cutting short the lives of millions of people.

Since 2000, we saw significant improvements in maternal and child health with deaths falling by one-third and one-half, respectively. The incidence of infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria also declined, along with a lowered risk of premature deaths from NCDs and injuries. Together, these contributed to an increase in global life expectancy from 67 years in 2000 to 73 years in 2019.

However, the pandemic has put many health-related indicators further off-track and contributed to inequalities in access to high-quality health care, routine immunizations and financial protection. As a result, improving trends in malaria and TB have been reversed, and fewer people were treated for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

“The World Health Statistics is WHO’s annual check-up on the state of the world’s health. The report sends a stark message on the threat of noncommunicable diseases, which take an immense and increasing toll on lives, livelihoods, health systems, communities, economies and societies,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.  “The report calls for a substantial increase in investments in health and health systems to get back on track towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

NCDsan ever-increasing health threat for future generations

Despite overall health progress, the share of deaths caused annually by NCDs has grown consistently and is now claiming nearly three quarters of all lives lost each year.

If this trend continues, NCDs are projected to account for about 86% of the 90 million annual deaths by mid-century; consequently, 77 million of these will be due to NCDs – a nearly 90% increase in absolute numbers since 2019. 

Stagnating progress calls for acceleration

More recent trends show signs of slowdown in the annual rate of reduction (ARR) for many indicators. For example, the global maternal mortality ratio needs to decline by 11.6% per year between 2021 and 2030 to meet the SDG target. Similarly, the net reduction in TB incidence from 2015 to 2021 was only one-fifth of the way to the 2025 milestone of WHO’s End TB Strategy.

Despite a reduction in exposure to many health risks – such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, violence, unsafe water and sanitation, and child stunting – progress was inadequate and exposure to some risks such as air pollution remains high.

Alarmingly, the prevalence of obesity is rising with no immediate sign of reversal. Furthermore, expanded access to essential health services has slowed compared to pre-2015 gains, coupled with no significant progress in reducing financial hardship due to health-care costs. This drastically limits our ability to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is an important reminder that progress is neither linear nor guaranteed,” warns Dr Samira Asma, WHO Assistant Director-General for Data, Analytics and Delivery for Impact. “To stay on track towards the 2030 SDG agenda, we must act decisively and collectively to deliver a measurable impact in all countries.”

This year’s report includes for the first time a dedicated section on climate change and health, and we anticipate that this will be of more relevance in the report going forward. For this issue and all other areas timely, reliable and disaggregated data are critical to track progress and improve national and global health policies.

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The annual health-care cost of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer in Malaysia exceeds RM 9.65 billion (US $2.16 billion)

A new report from the Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia and the World Health Organization (WHO), Direct Health-care Cost of Noncommunicable Diseases in Malaysia, reveals that hospitalizations, medical tests, medications, and primary care consultations of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), particularly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer, annually cost the Malaysian economy upwards of RM 9.65 billion. 

“Even without the additional threat posed by COVID-19, noncommunicable diseases are a significant health burden and public health challenge in our country. And while they are not an acute emergency or rapidly moving infectious disease, they are equally devastating to individuals, societies and economies,” said Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Noor Hisham bin Abdullah, Director General of Health Malaysia.

NCDs are the main cause of death and disability in Malaysia. It is estimated that 1 in 5 adult Malaysians are living with diabetes, 1 in 3 are living with hypertension, and nearly half are overweight or obese (National Health and Morbidity Survey, 2019). The growing prevalence of NCDs is placing an increased strain on the country’s health system.

“We saw that among the most vulnerable to the virus are people with underlying health conditions, including NCDs like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer, who have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease and are more likely to die from COVID-19,” continued Dr Hisham.  

“WHO continues to support the government of Malaysia in its efforts to address the growing challenge of NCDs through supporting addressing the risk factors, encouraging adoption of healthy lifestyles and strengthening primary care for early diagnosis and improved management of NCDs,” said Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative in Malaysia.

The report released today utilized data from the year 2017. The secured data were largely restricted to the public sector, and extrapolations to the private sector were based on assumptions. While the cost estimates are based on the best available data, they no doubt underestimate the real cost of the direct health-care costs associated with NCDs in Malaysia.

Aside from the health-care costs, previous studies have estimated the economic loss due to absenteeism, presenteeism in the workplace and the premature death of the working age population as upwards of RM 8.91 billion. In addition, the cost of disability and loss of healthy life years was estimated to be around RM 100.79 billion (The Impact of Noncommunicable Diseases and Their Risk Factors on Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product, 2020). 

This information can be used to identify cost-effective ways to prevent NCDs, reduce the costs of NCD management, and prioritize the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. Dr Hisham calls on collaboration to have publicly informed, evidence-based policies that could support the change in Malaysian’s behaviour.

“The problem of NCDs in Malaysia is also compounded by the fact that the country has a rapidly ageing population in which the failure to address adequately the challenge of NCDs could significantly impact health-care costs and economic well-being of the community,” added Dr Rabindra.

Malaysia is expected to reach the status of an aged nation by 2030, with people over the age of 65 making up more than 14% of the population. With the population ageing, more and more people are expected to live with NCDs in the long term. Given this demographic change, NCDs’ health and economic burden can also be expected to increase over time.

“Increasing awareness about NCDs and their management among the general population and those at risk now will contribute to increased longevity and healthy ageing of Malaysian through a reduction of premature mortality due to NCDs and their complications” said Dr Rabindra.

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Health leaders from Asian and Pacific nations gather in Manila to address key health issues

MANILA, Philippines l 24 October 2022 – Health ministers and senior officials from 37 countries and areas across Asia and the Pacific are meeting this week to address key health issues and priorities for the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Western Pacific Region.

The 73rd session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific from 24 to 28 October is a hybrid meeting, with many delegates joining in person in Manila, Philippines, and others connecting online.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus travelled to Manila and addressed the Regional Committee on day one: “Excellencies. Your agenda this week reflects the wide range of challenges you face as a region. I give you my commitment that your WHO will continue to support you, through our country and regional offices, and at headquarters, to promote, provide, protect, power and perform for health.”

In her remarks to the Committee, Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO’s Deputy Director General and Officer-in-Charge of the Western Pacific Regional Office, said “The Region has made impressive achievements in the past year, rapidly rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, redesigning healthcare pathways to prepare for future pandemics, and driving forward the shared vision For the Future.”

In a presentation by the Region’s Directors on key achievements Dr Corinne Capuano, WHO Director of Programme Management for the Western Pacific, said “WHO in the Region has been responding to COVID-19 while continuing to drive forward our shared vision For the Future. The world and the Western Pacific look quite different compared to this time last year. More borders are open, more people are vaccinated, and, thankfully, far fewer are dying from COVID-19. In this Region, we have fared relatively well. Our collective investments and efforts – by leaders across the Region, by communities, and by individuals – have paid off. We have also built on our culture of learning and improving, and we have undertaken significant work to improve our workplace culture since we last met last year.”

During the seventy-third session of the Regional Committee this week, delegates will consider for endorsement resolutions on issues including:

• mental health

• cervical cancer

• noncommunicable disease prevention and control

• primary health care

• reaching the unreached.

In addition, this year’s session will feature a panel discussion on Communication for Health (C4H), and delegates will discuss progress in several programmes such as: health security, including COVID-19 and antimicrobial resistance; climate change, the environment and health; and advancing implementation of For the Future: Towards the Healthiest and Safest Region, the vision for WHO’s work with Member States and partners in the Western Pacific.

The Honourable Dr Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, was elected Chair for this year’s session of the Regional Committee. Accepting the role, Dr Phoummalaysith said, “I am humbled by your trust and confidence in me to chair this seventy-third session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific. I thank you all, and it is my pleasure to welcome you – physically and virtually – to Manila. I also wish to thank the outgoing Chairperson – the honourable Minister of Health of Tuvalu – and other officers of the last session. I will do my best to follow in your footsteps this week.”

The Honourable Dr Saia Ma’u Piukala, Minister of Health, Tonga, was elected Vice-Chair.


Working with 194 Member States across six regions, WHO is the United Nations specialized agency responsible for public health. Each WHO region has its own regional committee – a governing body composed of ministers of health and senior officials from the region’s Member States. Each regional committee meets annually to agree on health actions and chart priorities for WHO’s work.


The WHO Western Pacific Region is home to more than 1.9 billion people across 37 countries and areas in Asia and the Pacific: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, France (which has responsibility for French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna), Hong Kong SAR (China), Japan, Kiribati, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Macao SAR (China), Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (which has responsibility for Pitcairn Islands), the United States of America (which has responsibility for American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam), Vanuatu and Viet Nam.

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[Korean Version] 덜 단 The Kurang Manis (Sugar,Less) Podcast by

Hello 2022! We welcome the new year with a special Korean podcast version of highlights from Season 1 of The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast, voiced by four students of one of South Korea’s oldest private universities, Chosun University in Gwangju. The students were mentored by podcast co-hosts Nikki Yeo and Jasmine Low over a month, where they spent hours researching the topics, discussed as a group, translated articles from English to Korean ( and lent their voices to this recording. We hope this outreach will play a significant role in halving NCDs in the Asia Pacific region – as per Asia Fitness Today’s MISSION 2030.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these bite-sized pieces of information on lifestyle diseases. Learn more about The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast here:


Produced by Podcasts.

Producer and Editor Jasmine Low & Nikki Yeo.

Korean Version recorded by the individual students using their mobile devices.

English Podcast recorded at Sydney Podcast Studios.

All Rights Reserved, Go International Group Dotcom Sdn. Bhd.



Originally published in English between February – May 2021.

Healthy China 2030

The 2021 China Obesity Prevention and Control Conference (10-12 April, 2021) held in Xi’an, Shaanxi China launched the China Obesity Prevention and Control Initiative jointly proposed by the newly set up Obesity Prevention and Control Section of the Chinese Nutrition Society and the Xi’an Jiaotong University Global Health Institute. The initiative called for 10 actions to be undertaken by the whole society including government, health care facilities, schools, work places, media, industry, research institutes, families and individuals.

Hosted by the Western China Science and Technology Innovation Harbour (iHarbour), the conference was co-organised by the Chinese Nutrition Society, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Nutrition and Health, the Global Health Institute and the School of Public Health of Xi’an Jiaotong University, and the Health Sub-Alliance of the University Alliance of the Silk Road.

The 10 proposed actions are:

  1. Mobilise the whole society
  2. Promote multi-departmental and cross-sectoral actions
  3. Correct the obesogenic environment
  4. Advocate healthy lifestyles
  5. Focus on prevention of childhood obesity
  6. Standardise the diagnosis and treatment of obesity
  7. Strengthen professional in-field training
  8. Improve policy establishing and evaluation system
  9. Conduct interdisciplinary research, and
  10. Strengthen international exchanges and cooperation.

These proposed actions to manage obesity and related chronic diseases form a part of the Healthy China 2030 Initiative and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The Obesity Prevention and Control Section of the Chinese Nutrition Society will play an active role in bridging the government, academia and industry, to serving the well-being of Chinese people, and contributing to global health by sharing Chinese experience and wisdom in obesity prevention and control.

The conference was attended by 400 delegates including experts and scholars in public health, nutrition and clinical medicine, also leaders and experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), National Health Commission, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Chinese Nutrition Society, universities and hospitals. The WHO Chief Representative Officer in China Dr. Gauden Galea, the officials from National Health Commission Mr. Jianxin Tian, the president of the Chinese Nutrition Society Prof. Yuexin Yang and some 40 scholars and experts from government, academia and industry shared their ideas and views in lectures, debates and panel discussions.


Reported by AFTNN

AFT Interviews: Dr. James Muecke AM Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission

Listen to the full interview on The Kurang Manis Podcast, Season 1, Episode 7

Type 2 Diabetes could be put into remission, says opthalmologist Dr. James Muecke AM. Almost as soon as he was named Australian of the Year 2020, Dr. Muecke started advocating for the implementation of a tax on sugary drinks in an effort to save more eyes. Dr. Muecke speaks to about his proposed change to Australia’s dietary guidelines, he expresses why there’s a need for government to impose a sugar tax and talks about his work in raising awareness about diabetes – a lifestyle disease that could lead to the loss of sight.

Dr. James Muecke with his team in Vietnam. Photo credit: Sight For All foundation

He began his career in Kenya, then returned to South Australia to become an eye surgeon and blindness prevention pioneer, starting both Vision Myanmar at the South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology in 2000, and Sight For All, an organisation which uses Australian and New Zealand eye specialists to train overseas doctors, a social impact organisation “aiming to create a world where everyone can see”.

Has sugar blinded our reasoning?

A few months ago, we featured a story about a patient of Dr. Muecke’s who woke up one morning Blinded by Sugar. Neil Hansel is sadly a victim of the debilitating disease which has not only taken his eyesight, but also his limbs.

In his address at the National Press Club in Canberra last year, Dr. James Muecke gave an immensely moving account about having had to remove a patient’s eye. He wanted to be an eye surgeon to give the gift of sight and not to take it away from someone, especially when someone has been needlessly blinded by an avoidable, man-made Type 2 Diabetes he said.

Sugar toxicity can be solved

Humans were for the first time in history “overfed and undernourished” with sugar and refined carbohydrates, he affirmed. We met with Dr. Muecke in person at a studio in Sydney this March 2021, one square year after the Australian border closures and he summed up our conversation to this, “When the mother is pregnant with the baby and if she’s consuming a diet high in sugar, that sugar crosses the placental barrier to the foetus but insulin doesn’t cross, so you’re already metabolically priming the child for health problems in the future. So gestational diabetes is a big big problem so people should be aware of that, that it be picked up early in pregnancy and wind right back on your consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates,”.

Dr. Muecke spoke to us at length about a strategy he came up with, which he calls the 5As of sugar toxicity.

  • Addiction
  • Alleviation
  • Accessibility
  • Addition
  • Advertising

It’s so hard to kick the habit. If you’ve ever tried to detox from sugar, it’s quite an unpleasant process. And even if you’re able to succesfully do it, everywhere you go, all the foods you eat, you’re just bombarded with sugar, so it makes it very difficult. So having a tax on sugary drinks, we know that it’s been shown to reduce purchase and consumption in 17 countries with Mexico being one of them.

Let’s say in Australia, we put a 20% levy on sugary drinks, that would raise about A$600million which could then be used to fund health awareness initiatives and about 77% of Australians agree with this in principle,” added Muecke, giving light into his call for a sugar tax.

Back home in Adelaide, Dr. Muecke continues his advocacy work in awareness building and has called for a crackdown on sugar in drinks and processed foods, also a change in Australia’s dietary guidelines.

He spoke about how diabetes, one of leading causes of blindness among Australian adults could be sent into remission. Diabetes is a metabolic disease, caused by the over-consumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates and ultra-processed foods which are cheap and accessible. He mentioned the dangers of seed oils, and that we should be aware of the types of oils we’re consuming daily.

Australia’s dietary guidelines was last updated in 2013 and in a Facebook post, Muecke suggests a certain biasness that 80% of the recommended foods were plant-based. He came up with this proposed diamond (see diagram below), shifting sugar and heavily processed & grain fed meats to the opposite tips of the healthy eating diamond.

A 7News report quoted Dr. Muecke saying, there were three successful ways to place type-two diabetes in remission – low calorie diets, low carbohydrate diets or bariatric surgery. Of these, he said the low-carbohydrate diet was the easiest solution. also attended a webinar in November 2020, organised by the Australian Society of Opthalmologists. In that webinar, Dr. Muecke shared an imagery about glucose metabolism likening it to a packed train at peak hour. When too much glucose is ingested, insulin level rises and tries to push glucose into the blood stream, but it’s rejected. It’s then stored as glycogen instead in the liver, giving rise to fatty liver. Fructose – when taken up by the liver, almost a third of it is converted to fat so fructose is far more toxic than glucose! 

Dynamic duo

Dr. James Muecke was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012, then in 2015 he was EY’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year for Australia, and in 2019 received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Adelaide. It was the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, that Dr. Muecke was named Australian of the Year for 2020 and appropriately so, considering he is not going to be silent anymore and will be carrying the torch to highlight the fact that non-communicable lifestyle diseases like diabetes can be put into remission, and one of the ways to achieve that is to intervene with awareness first, followed by a change in lifestyle and importantly, diet. Partnering Dr. Muecke in advocacy and stewardship of the non-profit work is spouse Mena Muecke OAM, who also plays a vital role in the marketing and publicity of Sight For All and is a co-founder of the Vision 1000 social investment initiative. She was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2018. The Mueckes run private consultancy,

Follow Dr. Muecke on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn

The podcast also features:

Dr. YokeLi Ling

In this 7th episode of Season 1 of The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast, we also speak with Dr YokeLi Ling, based in Kuala Lumpur who is passionately advocating Sleep and Airway Centric Dentistry and Oral Myofunctional Therapy. Dr. Ling shares more details in the 8th episode of the podcast (click here) with co-hosts Nikki Yeo and Jasmine Low. 

Mia Palencia

Our tradition continues where we introduce music from this region and we’ve chosen a song titled SUPERMAN by Tassie-based Mia Palencia who launched her career in Malaysia at the age of 14 as the other half of Sabahan jazz duo Double Take. The song reflects the advocacy work that’s being undertaken by Dr. James Muecke AM – Australia’s SUPERMAN. Mia composed, produced and performed the opening night theme song for the Southeast Asian Games 2017, and continues her PhD research in Songwriting at the Conservatorium of Music, University of Tasmania and released her 7th album with her Australian jazz quartet, In Good Company. Visit

Available wherever you get your podcasts:

Public advocacy

We welcome messages from our listeners, and invite you to send us a voice message if you have comments or feedback for our guests.

Feel free to share and repost these visuals via your social media pages or messages. Thank you.

Now streaming – Dr. James Muecke AM, Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission. Listen to the podcast on or wherever you get your podcast: “The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast”
Now streaming – Dr. James Muecke AM, Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission. Listen to the podcast on or wherever you get your podcast: “The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast”
Now streaming – Dr. James Muecke AM, Australian of the Year 2020 wants to put diabetes in remission. Listen to the podcast on or wherever you get your podcast: “The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast”

More opinion pieces by Dr. James Muecke AM:

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Wake-up call! Diabetes affects 12% adults in Guam

AFTNN — Reporter Sabrina Salas Matanane of Health Check, a program by KUAM News Extra in Guam presents the Guam Diabetes Control Coalition (GDCC) webinar with opening remarks from Dr. Keith Horinouchi, Chairperson of the GDCC.

The Diabetes Alert Day virtual conference on March 23rd also featured a presentation by keynote speaker Dr. Ann Pobutsky, PhD Territorial Epidemiologist / Department of Public Health and Social Services. Her research background includes chronic disease epimediology, social epimediology and community health needs assessment.

Dr. Pobutsky shared that data shows that Type 2 Diabetes or Insulin Resistance was in direct correlation with COVID-19 mortality, where the vast majority of COVID-19 cases on Guam (65.3%) were among those under age 45. The opposite is true of COVID-19 related deaths where 88% of the cases were among those older than 45 years. She highlights the following findings:

  • Three fourths of the COVID-19 related deaths were among those aged 55 years and above.
  • Diabetes was more common at older ages.
  • People with diabetes are also likely to have cardiovascular disease co-morbidities since diabetes interferes with the circulatory system.
  • There is a consistent pattern among Guam COVID-19 deaths from March 2020 to February 2021, whereby those with diagnosis of diabetes constitute about one-half of cases (49.6% – 56.3%).

What’s needed to move forward?

  • Establishment of a Diabetes Registry although this may not be feasible.
  • Continued health education on diabetes prevention, and management of diabetes mainly dietary changes to stem obesity.
  • Change the physical environment to make exercise more accessible.

More details of Dr. Pobutsky’s presentation can be seen in the video below.

The good thing that’s come out of working from home is that people are cooking more at home, planting their own bananas, green beans and sharing with others, bicycles are out of stock, people are walking outdoors with their kids and it’s an amazing change, commented Honorable Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Maga ‘hagan Guahan.

“Diabetes as we all know cause major problems like being blind, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, lower limb amputations and other ailments. The tragedy of all this is that diabetes can be prevented. A healthy diet, physical activity, avoiding tobacco, these actions can delay or even prevent Type 2 Diabetes. As a nurse, I know full well what diabetes can do to a person, and the toll it can take on a family if treatment is prolonged,”.

Honorable Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Maga ‘hagan Guahan.

The GDCC coalition has a mission to educate the community on healthy lifestyles, expansion of aquaculture and agriculture industries with a focus on children’s nutrition with local foods. They will be working closely with Guam Department of Education and establishing a school healthcare initiative with school health councillors. Outreach programs will identify families who are at high risk and under utilising health care and inviting them to the community health centres to benefit from the programs, said Honorable Joshua Tenorio, Segundo na Maga’lahen Guahan – Lt. Governor of Guam.

A message was read from the Office of the Speaker of the 36th Legislature and Chairperson for the Committee on Health, Land, Justice and Culture, Senator Therese M. Terlaje who shared these key points, “…we have been hearing that Guam’s diabetes rates have been at epidemic proportions for many years now and as far back as 2010, the Pacific Islands health officers association has declared a regional state of health emergency due to the epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the United States Affiliated Pacific Islands USAPI which included American Samoa, Guam, The Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, The Republic of Palau and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island…”

Her address was followed by a message from Arthur San Agustin, Director / Department of Public Health and Social Services, who shared a message from a personal angle as both his parents had diabetes and passed away from complications of diabetes – “It really is a lifestyle change”.

The full ADA Diabetes Alert Day Presentation sponsored by the Guam Diabetes Control Coalition is featured in full below:

The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast

AFT Podcasts present The Kurang Manis (Sugar, Less) Podcast featuring interviews with sports, fitness & wellness personalities from Asia and the Pacific.

A documentary, “Redifussion-inspired”, raw as can be chit chat show with athletes, medical doctors, allied health professionals, the fitness & wellness world – could it be you, perhaps? We tell your stories as they happen in our lives. Join podcast co-hosts Jasmine Low & Nikki Yeo and bring your cuppa tea! In Malaysia, it’s the Teh Tarik, made frothy by swift hand movements of a tea-pulling expert but 8 tsp of condensed milk?! Kurang manis ya, boss! Sugar, Less…

Where to listen:




    Subscribe, and never miss free access to premium content, early access to live streamed interviews and more!

    AFT is on a mission; MISSION 2030 — to halve NCD rates in the Asia Pacific region by 2030 read more… If we could ask if you could please share this podcast on social media or with someone you know and care about so we can perpetuate this ripples of awareness in the community. It begins with a whisper, a drop in the ocean and slowly, change can happen. It begins with us.


    KURANG MANIS is a documentary in the making and was first awarded a special prize at the 2019 Script-to-Screen Workshop Malaysia co-organised by Motion Picture Association – Asia PacificWildsnapper TV & FINAS with judges, U-Wei Bin Haji Saari, Stephen Jenner & Jason van Genderen and guided by filmmaker Tan Chui Mui. A production by, co-produced by Jasmine Low & Nikki Yeo, filmmaker mentor Jules Ong, sound engineering mentor Werner Theunissen, technical engineer Sydney Podcast Studios.

    The Kurang Manis Podcast is created, written, produced & co-hosted by Nikki Yeo in Kuala Lumpur & Jasmine Low in Sydney – two everyday people who just want to make a change in the world starting with themselves.

    Read more about KURANG MANIS impact project here.

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    Small bites, large strides!


    Is there a bigger pandemic looming?

    The Novel Coronavirus nCoV or COVID-19 has been one of the most widespread diseases so far. With a death rate of 1.52 million people, many believe that this pandemic is the greatest challenge in history. But there is a bigger and far more dangerous disease that has been in our lives for longer.
    Photo via Pexels Alex Green

    What are NCDs?

    Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes, are the leading causes of death in the world. They contribute to 71% of global deaths each year. This invisible pandemic causes more death and suffering than COVID-19, year after year. 

    NCDs kill approximately 41 million people every year. This is more than the population of Malaysia and Singapore put together! Unfortunately, many people remain unaware of this pandemic that has been wreaking havoc for quite a while now. 

    NCDs are diseases which are non-infectious, meaning that they cannot spread from one person to another. They tend to last for a long duration and occur as a result of a combination of:

    • Genetic – Certain diseases such as diabetes, asthma and cancer are genetic, meaning that they can be inherited from parents or ancestors. (We will investigate how certain interventions have shown positive effects in disease management in another feature article later – Ed.) 
    • Physiological Factors – These are factors that are related to a person’s body and can be influenced by genes, lifestyle and other factors. For instance, obesity and high blood pressure are physiological factors. 
    • Environmental Factors – These include factors such as access to clean water, air pollution, sanitation and poverty. 
    • Behavioural Factors – These are factors that are related to an individual’s actions and lifestyle such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and lack of physical activity. These can be reduced through changes in lifestyle.

    The main types of NCDs

    • Cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart attacks and stroke)
    • Cancer (lung, breast, skin and the like)
    • Chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma 
    • Diabetes 

    An indiscriminating disease

    Just like COVID-19, NCDs do not discriminate but the most vulnerable are those living in developing countries. Poverty is closely linked with NCDs and increases the risk of death and disability from NCDs.

    Each year, WHO reports that 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 69 years die from an NCD, and over 85% of these “premature” deaths occur in developing countries. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a leading voice and repository for facts and information on U.S. health-care issues shared in a post published on 29 Jan 2019, “The U.S. Government and Global Non-Communicable Disease Effortsthat chronic diseases in developing countries are not given the importance and attention it deserves (Ed.)

    According to WHO (2018), NCDs account for:- 

    26.6% of all deaths in Taiwan, 

    63% of all deaths in India, 

    68% of all deaths in the Philippines,

    73% of all deaths in Indonesia, 

    74% of all deaths in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand,

    More than 80% of all deaths in Fiji, and 

    89% of all deaths in China. 

    The rate of deaths caused by NCDS are extremely high in Western countries with NCDS accounting for: – 

    74% of all deaths in Brazil,

    89% of all deaths in the United Kingdom, and 

    91% of all deaths in Australia and Italy.

    It has been predicted that by 2030, the global average NCD deaths from the total number of deaths would be 75.26%. That’s a whopping two-thirds of total fatality.

    Ann Keeling, Chair NCD Alliance and IDF CEO stated “90 million avoidable deaths from NCDs will occur worldwide within the next decade if nothing is done. We’re angry and we want action!” 

    The risk factors that increase the chances of NCDs include the person’s lifestyle and environment. 

    This includes age, gender, genetics, exposure to pollution, lack of physical activity, smoking tobacco and drinking too much alcohol. 

    The rise of NCDs poses devastating health consequences for individuals, families and communities, and threatens to overwhelm health systems. However, most NCDs are considered preventable because they are caused by modifiable risk factors. Having an healthy and active lifestyle such as regular physical activity and nutritious food reduces the likelihood of getting NCDs. 

    Countries and other stakeholders have to support a holistic approach to health, which promotes good health and healthy behaviours, prevention of NCDs and accounts for the early detection, diagnosis, management, and treatment of NCDs. 

    This article has been researched, compiled and written by the team at Asia Fitness Today; Sneha Ramesh – Intern, Monash University (Sunway campus), Syuhada Adam – Editorial consultant, Nikki Yeo & Jasmine Low – Director/Producer.

    Asia Fitness Today has embarked on MISSION 2030 — to halve NCD rates in the Asia Pacific region by 2030. If we could ask if you could please share this article on social media or with someone you know and care about so we can perpetuate this ripples of awareness in the community. It begins with a whisper, a drop in the ocean and slowly, change can happen. It begins with us. Learn more:


    World Health Organization. (2015, October 5). NCDs, poverty and development.

    World Health Organization: WHO. (2018, June 1). Noncommunicable diseases.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, May 26). About Global NCDs | Division of Global Health Protection | Global Health | CDC. CDC.,out%20of%2010%20deaths%20worldwide.&text=Changing%20social%2C%20economic%2C%20and%20structural,age%20of%2070%E2%80%94each%20year.

    Benham, B. (2018, April 5). Poverty Increases Risk of Non-Communicable Diseases in Lower Income Co. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

    World Health Organisation. (2019, June 12). Noncommunicable diseases.

    World Health Organisation. (n.d.). World Health Organization – Eastern Mediterranean Region.

    Barbosa, I. (2020, April 10). The Invisible Pandemic of NCDs May Now Come To Light. Neill Institute.

    Wang, Y., & Wang, J. (2020). Modelling and prediction of global non-communicable diseases. BMC Public Health, 20, 1-13.