Diabetes is a silent killer and silent robber.
Diabetes is a special problem in Singapore.
Diabetes is a solvable problem.
At the NUS Greater Good Series event titled “Diabetes – The Silent Epidemic”, Dean of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health Professor Chia Kee Seng provided the audience with a clear and succinct overview of the diabetes problem facing Singapore today and how a multi-pronged approach is taken to tackle it.
The talk, which focused on what scientists, doctors and researchers can do for the disease, was introduced by Professor Lee Chuen Neng, Chairman of the University Surgical Cluster and Centre for Healthcare Innovation & Medical Engineering (CHIME).
Professor Christiani Jeyakumar Henry, nutritionist and Director of the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine), highlighted that diet and nutrition can make a difference on Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes. For instance, studies have shown that the consumption of rice, a high-carbohydrate food, with vegetables and a source of protein (i.e. chicken or soya-based products) will reduce an individual’s blood glucose levels as compared to consuming rice alone. Prof Henry revealed that researchers must continue to explore how food can become the new medicine.
Dr David Lai, Director of Surgical Research and Development at the Department of Surgery, NUS Medicine, emphasised that technology also plays an important role in the prevention and cure of diabetes. One example is how the original needle glucometers have evolved to become non-invasive, painless, and even implantable glucose sensors. With nanotechnology and nanoengineering, there are now insulin patches being developed with microneedles that release insulin to allow for almost perfect glucose control.
In closing, the speakers expressed the importance of philanthropy in advancing research and medical development. “Private funding is important as most governments are generally risk-adverse. In research and the development of new technologies, risks must be taken. Even if only a few successes may result from many failures, they could be game-changers, introduce a paradigm-shift, be impactful, and make a real difference to the lives of diabetics. Contributions to the University will allow it to take a longer-term view of risks for greater success,” concluded Dr Lai.
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