Words of the President – pulse of diabetes education continues to beat strong
Medical organizations that can claim to be registered as a company with limited guarantee are a handful only. One of them is National Diabetes Institute or better known as NADI. It is no coincidence that the acronym is NADI, as the company aims to be the pulse of diabetes education and centre of excellence dedicated to diabetes.
The company, incorporated in 2002, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization managed by a Board of Trustees which comprise of members from the Malaysian Endocrine and Metabolic Society (MEMS), Diabetes Malaysia (DM), Ministry of Health, elected and founding members. Its aims are multipronged, chief of which is to be the national diabetes education resource centre for the country. It further aims to establish and run a comprehensive health facility (including a National Diabetes Hospital) for the management of diabetes and complications.
NADI’s current executive chairman (honorary) Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr. Mustaffa Embong was cryptic when asked about the status of the National Diabetes Hospital, said that negotiation is ongoing and a decision is expected soon. Another objective of NADI is to create and maintain a National Diabetes Registry, which is already in the works and is aimed to be collaboration with the Ministry of Health. It further seeks to coordinate and conduct research in diabetes and related conditions; and to be the national coordinating centre for diabetes in the country, with respect to statistics, education, management, research, policy and planning on diabetes as well as associated diseases.
Lastly, NADI aims to prevent diabetes and its associated metabolic conditions (such as hypertension, high blood cholesterol levels and heart disease) through the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.
Spreading current knowledge on diabetes
NADI hosts two conferences annually, the Diabetes Complications and Grand Rounds and Diabetes Asia meetings. The former focuses on topics pertaining to diabetes- care ie, nurses, dietitians, nutritionists, pharmacists and medical assistants; while the latter is more doctor-centric. Mustaffa said Diabetes Asia is recognized as a premier regional conference on diabetes and is graced by many notable international speakers and local key opinion leaders (KOLs) in diabetes and related fields.
This year, in a break from the norm, both conferences will be held consecutively in July in Kuching, Sarawak. Normally, the conferences are spread out, with one in the first half and the other in the second half of the year.
Apart from their annual conferences, NADI hosts a series of lectures for the public and regular CPD events. These include their diabetic foot care courses which are held at the Diabetic Resource Centre (D’ Centers) in Klang, Selangor. The centre was established in 2014, and Mustaffa hopes to replicate the concept of the centre all over the country.
The Diabetes Resource Centre is a source of pride for NADI and it is a one-stop centre for all diabetes-related needs. Mustaffa said: “We have diabetes nurses and educators in place to counsel, screen and to test patients for complications.” D’ Centers’ events including free talks are usually publicized in newspapers and radio.
As expected, the main obstacle for the execution of NADI’s plans is the issue of funding. To this end, NADI is constantly engaging private contributors and pharmaceutical companies for sponsorship as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) endeavours. Dato’ Dr. Nor Aini Hj Abu Bakar, senior manager (honorary) of NADI, said the accounts of the company are independently audited annually or biennially by certified external auditors. Hence, there’s no worry of misuse of funds. In fact, the reports of the audits are passed on to respective funders. Importantly too, all donations to NADI are tax-exempt.
A responsibility borne of passion
Mustaffa is the honorary physician diabetologist at the Diabetes Resource Centre, and is there on most Thursdays through Saturdays—for up to 2 weeks in a month. Patients are seen on appointment basis. The cost of counseling or consultation and medication or treatment is either free or minimal and is subsidized by funds received from NADI’s sponsors. NADI welcomes other doctors and specialists who would like to contribute their time and effort to the resource centre.
While type 2 diabetes receives the bulk of attention from stakeholders, NADI did not forget about children with type 1 diabetes. A club known as the T1 Club, which is open to all children with type 1 diabetes and their caregivers, was formed to cater to their needs. The club organizes events and activities to educate them about the disease and to empower the children in managing their life-long condition. With more funds, the T1 Club with be expanded to other major cities in the country.
On top of all these events, NADI also runs regular screening and counseling sessions around the country—these include in urban and rural areas, company premises and in Orang Asli settlements.
Mustaffa hopes that more charitable organizations would come forward to support NADI to carry its mission in helping the Government prevent and provide better control of diabetes and related diseases in this country.