Selangor Journal
An emergency medical technician conducts an insulin level test. — Picture via UNSPLASH

Health Ministry, IMU launch SeDia Cohort Study to expore factors, complications of diabetes in patients

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 — The Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) and International Medical University (IMU) recently launched the first large-scale cohort study on diabetes to explore factors involved in the development of diabetes and complications which patients experience.

The study, named Seremban Diabetes ‘SeDia Cohort Study’, was officially launched by the Yang Dipertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan Tuanku Muhriz Almarhum Tuanku Munawir. Also in attendance were Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa and IMU’s vice-chancellor cum chief executive officer Prof Abdul Aziz Baba.

MOH and IMU in a joint statement today said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between MOH and IMU for the establishment of the SeDia Cohort Study was signed on May 17 last year, while the research protocol obtained the approval of MOH’s Medical Research and Ethics Committee (MREC) on March 17, 2023.

“This 12-year study marks the first important step towards obtaining data that is socio-culturally relevant to the local community. It involves over 5,000 patients registered as part of the Klinik Kesihatan Seremban’s Diabetes Registry and over 7,000 of their family members, to investigate the complex web of interactions that contribute to the development of diabetes and its complications.

“A significant amount of time is required in this study because the development of diabetes, along with its associated complications, also occur over an extended period,” said the statement.

The SeDia Cohort Study will encompass a comprehensive examination of various factors, encompassing genetics and family history of diabetes to lifestyle and environmental factors, dietary regimes, physical activity, socioeconomic levels, and healthcare delivery.

By understanding the complex connections between these factors, the aim is to uncover optimal strategies for diabetes prevention and treatment as well as implement evidence-based public healthcare policies and programmes that are relevant to the local community to ensure the efficacy of developed treatment and prevention initiatives in addressing the escalating burden of diabetes.

Based on the statement, Malaysia has the highest incidence of diabetes in Asia-Pacific and amongst the highest in the world, with an estimation of 3.9 million Malaysian adults affected by the disease.

“The prevalence of diabetes shows a steady upward trend, from 11.2 per cent in 2011 to 18.3 per cent in the National Health & Morbidity Survey 2019. By 2025, it is projected that 7 million adults in Malaysia will have diabetes, representing a significant healthcare burden on the nation.

“The cost of treatment for diabetes patients, not including the cost of treatment for diabetes complications, is estimated at around RM3 billion per year,” said the statement.

With the highest incidence of diabetes occurring amongst adults (above 18 years old) in Negeri Sembilan at 33.2 per cent, Klinik Kesihatan Seremban Jalan Rasah was selected as the study’s Recruitment Centre while IMU Institute of Research, Development and Innovation (IRDI) will serve as the study’s Coordination Centre and storage facility for biological specimens.

Diabetic patients registered with the Diabetes Registry of the Klinik Kesihatan Seremban will be invited to participate in a study along with their adult family members, voluntarily.

By using digital systems and data infrastructure, the participants’ personal and medical information will be collected through a comprehensive questionnaire, capturing socio-demographic data; anthropometric measurements; medical history; dietary habits; physical activity; laboratory tests; socio-economic information and psychosocial health.

“Blood samples will also be taken for genetic profiling to study individual predisposition to diabetes and, for diabetic patients, predisposition to complications and response to medications and physical and dietary interventions,” said the statement.

Over 10,000 participants will be recruited for this study over a period of three years starting this month.

Regular follow-ups will be conducted with each participant, and the process of data collection will be reiterated every three years over a span of 12 years to assess the occurrence of diabetes and the emergence of new diabetes-related complications and information on life events such as hospital admissions and deaths for each participant will be collected and updated annually.

Local and international researchers will be granted access to SeDia Cohort for further analysis and studies, subject to the approval of MREC to maximise research and development resources both domestic and internationally, to gain a comprehensive understanding of this complex disease and develop specific intervention strategies for individuals and communities.

“SeDia Cohort study provides an opportunity for researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the role of genetics and the environment within the local community. Consequently, it can further improve diabetes management guidelines and public health policies towards better health outcomes,” it said.

According to the statement, the study will be funded through public funds, including contributions from corporations and individuals. Supporting the SeDia Cohort Study as a Platinum Sponsor with a contribution of RM2 million is IHH Healthcare Malaysia (IHH MY). As part of IHH Healthcare Berhad, IHH MY is dedicated to making healthcare better, faster, easier and more affordable for patients.

— Bernama

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