Diabetic used to eat 5 pieces of prata for breakfast
Parliament sat for the eighth day yesterday as MPs discussed issues affecting the Ministry of Health.
When he was younger, Mr Vivehananda Samy used to indulge in his favourite food such as prata, mee rebus and nasi briyani.
The 90kg former businessman could eat five pieces of roti prata for breakfast.
He paid the price. At the age of 40, Mr Samy was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and told to control his diet and weight.
He started playing badminton twice a week, but found it difficult to give up his favourite food. At 52, Mr Samy had to go through an angioplasty because of a clogged artery.
Now 68 and recently retired, Mr Samy said that the surgery was a wake-up call.
He told The New Paper yesterday: "I had two school-going children at that time, and I had to be healthy for their sake."
The fear of losing a limb or going blind because of complications due to diabetes also scared him.
He joked: "If I die, I want to go in one piece."
Mr Samy is one of 440,000 Singaporeans with diabetes today.
Among those diagnosed, one in three has poor control of his or her condition.
This can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputations.
In light of the threat of the chronic disease to Singaporeans, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday declared a "war on diabetes".
He said: "We want to help Singaporeans live life free from diabetes, and for those with the disease, to help them control their condition to prevent deterioration."
Mr Samy is one example.
Other than diabetes, he also suffers from hypertension and high cholesterol.
Because of his condition, he has been keeping regular appointments with his family physician at the polyclinic for the past six years.
Four years ago, Mr Samy was prescribed insulin and needs two shots a day.
It also meant lifestyle changes - eating mee rebus and nasi briyani once a month and thosai instead of roti prata.
He also swims and walks and meditates every morning.
Mr Samy, who is 1.8m tall and now weighs 80kg, also quit smoking and drinks only a glass of wine occasionally. He advises his two grown children to go for regular screening for diabetes.
He said: "I was lucky to have good doctors who gave good guidance, which I followed. It was not easy as I had to give up a lot of the food that I enjoyed.
"My advice to anyone who has diabetes is to eat everything in moderation and try not to be too stressed. Exercise is also important, you cannot sit around and expect to be fit."
This educated, articulate, young man told us: 'So, here's the result. It's not good. You know what that means? You know, right? You know?' Even when we broke down in front of him, he was blank and indifferent.
- NMP Kuik Shiao-Yin relating her family's experience with a junior doctor who broke the news about her father's terminal cancer. She highlights the need for more public awareness on palliative care services, especially among doctors and nurses who struggle with handling death.
Promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing obesity rates in order to cut down on new diabetes cases.
This will be done by improving dietary quality in schools, communities and workplaces and encourage more people to exercise by expanding ongoing programmes such as the National Steps Challenge and Sundays@The Park.
Early screening and intervention will be enhanced to identify the disease early among those at risk or undiagnosed.
Support better disease control to slow disease progression, and reduce complications.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong will also co-chair a new Diabetes Prevention and Care Taskforce with Mr Ng Chee Meng, Acting Minister for Education.
By the numbers
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday raised some worrying trends on the diabetes situation in Singapore
1 in 3
Singaporeans likely to get diabetes in his or her lifetime.
Singaporeans could be affected by diabetes by 2050.
adults worldwide had diabetes in 2014, according to the World Health Organization.
1 in 3
Singaporeans aged 65 and above now has diabetes.
Economic burden of diabetes a year in Singapore, mainly due to productivity loss at the workplace, according to a study by Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.
Singaporeans lose a limb or appendage each day due to diabetic-related complications.