The Ministry of Health's Malaysia’s Health Facts 2014, which shows that digestive diseases are now the fifth principal cause of deaths in hospitals in Malaysia, has spurred the formation of the Digestive Health Malaysia Society.
According to the Chairman of the Digestive Health Malaysia Society, Dato’ Dr Muhammad Radzi while many Malaysians are familiar with colon cancer, they have scant knowledge of other diseases of the digestive system like irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Crohn’s disease as these can be chronic, difficult to diagnose and treat.
"Reminding Malaysians of keeping their digestive health in tip-top shape has become necessary because of the rise of serious diseases of the digestive system recently in the country. According to recent studies by local and international experts, Malaysians are amongst the highest (numbers in the) world to suffer from GERD and the numbers are expected to grow,” he said.
Dr Muhammad noted that eating a diet that is low in fibre, rich in sugar, low in nutrients but high in additives and chemicals alters the ecosystem of the gut and impairs its ability to do a normal job. "Other factors of modern living like stress and a sedentary lifestyle can also be damaging to the balance of normal gut function,” he remarked.
The Digestive Health Malaysia Society will be spearheading a multi-sectoral approach to engage and empower Malaysians to maintaining good gut health. The society has already set up a website to educate visitors on digestive diseases, their symptoms and ways to improve gut health has been set up.