Supporting caregivers of patients essential in war on diabetes: Chan

Singapore has the infrastructure and community to support caregivers of diabetic patients in the nation's war on diabetes, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing yesterday.

While it is important to care for diabetic patients, it is even more important to support their caregivers as, without them, patients cannot be cared for, said Mr Chan, who is co-chair of the Diabetes Prevention and Care Taskforce.

"If the caregiver of the diabetic patient goes down, we will have two patients on our hands rather than one," he said.

"And I have a simple message to our caregivers - that is, simply, you're never alone. In Singapore, we have the infrastructure and community to support many of our caregivers."

Mr Chan was speaking at the inaugural charity cycling event organised by charity Diabetes Singapore on Sentosa yesterday morning.

Around 300 cyclists, including para-cyclists, were flagged off by Mr Chan from the Sapphire Pavilion along Siloso Beach.

Cyclists then went on to complete either a 4km or 20km route of their own choosing across Singapore.

About 1,000 cyclists have completed the event's virtual cycle, which started last year and ended yesterday.

The event aims to create awareness of diabetes and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Diabetes Singapore executive director Satyaprakash Tiwari said the event raised around $100,000 in donations from cyclists and its main sponsor Embecta, a diabetes management company.

"The donations will help subsidise our operation and manpower costs, along with subsidising screening and blood tests for patients so they pay $15 instead of $25," said Mr Tiwari.

The physical cycling event is planned to take place once every two years, with other running and golfing events in the pipeline.

In 2016, Singapore declared a war on diabetes in a bid to tackle the disease.

Statistics in a report of the latest National Population Health Survey published last November showed a slight increase in the prevalence of diabetes for a period from 2019 to 2020.

For that eight-month period, the prevalence of diabetes was 9.5 per cent, an increase from 8.8 per cent in 2017.

Citing a study conducted in 2017, Diabetes Singapore said that by 2025, one in four Singapore residents aged above 21 will have pre-diabetes, while one in five will have diabetes.

Yesterday, Mr Chan said it is important to start off on a right footing at a young age through regular exercise and a healthy diet.

"Once wrong habits are ingrained from a young age, they are hard to change. This is why we want to start our children on proper exercise and diet. These two are fundamental to (preventing) any health issues... so we want to inculcate such positive habits in our young minds as soon as possible," said Mr Chan.

It is also never too late to make lifestyle changes, regardless of one's age, he added.

"Even when we're much older, we can still get our diet right and get our exercise in," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 15, 2022, with the headline Supporting caregivers of patients essential in war on diabetes: Chan. Subscribe