SeDia Cohort Study Launched

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In a groundbreaking initiative, the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) and the International Medical University (IMU) have joined hands to launch the SeDia Cohort Study, the first large-scale study of its kind on diabetes in Malaysia. The study aims to comprehensively explore the factors involved in the development of diabetes and its complications, providing valuable insights for prevention and treatment strategies. With an estimated 3.9 million Malaysian adults affected by diabetes, the nation faces a significant healthcare burden.
The SeDia Cohort Study was officially launched in Seremban by Duli Yang Maha Mulia Yang Di Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir. The event witnessed the presence of esteemed dignitaries including Yang Amat Berhormat Menteri Besar Negeri Sembilan, Dato’ Seri Aminuddin Harun, Yang Berhormat Minister of Health Dr Zaliha Mustafa, and Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of IMU Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Baba.
The MOH and IMU signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of the Seremban Diabetes (SeDia) Cohort Study on May 17, 2022. The study’s research protocol obtained approval from MOH’s Medical Research and Ethics Committee (MREC) on March 17, 2023. Over the course of 12 years, the study will investigate the complex interactions contributing to diabetes development and its associated complications. To ensure socio-cultural relevance, the study will involve over 5,000 patients registered in the Klinik Kesihatan Seremban’s Diabetes Registry and more than 7,000 of their family members.
With Malaysia having the highest incidence of diabetes in the Asia Pacific region and one of the highest in the world, the prevalence of diabetes has shown a steady upward trend. The National Health & Morbidity Survey 2019 reported a prevalence of 18.3 per cent, up from 11.2 per cent in 2011. If left unchecked, it is projected that by 2025, 7 million adults in Malaysia will have diabetes, placing a significant burden on the healthcare system with an estimated annual treatment cost of RM3 billion.
The SeDia Cohort Study will encompass a comprehensive examination of various factors, including genetics, family history, lifestyle, environmental factors, dietary regimes, physical activity, socio-economic levels, and healthcare delivery. By understanding the complex connections between these factors, the study aims to uncover optimal strategies for diabetes prevention and treatment, which can then be translated into evidence-based public healthcare policies and programs relevant to the local community.
To mark the official launch of the SeDia Cohort Study, a symposium titled “Precision Medicine in Diabetes” was organized, featuring distinguished speakers such as Prof Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim bin Sulaiman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research at IMU and Principal Investigator of SeDia Cohort. The symposium aimed to highlight the significance of precision medicine in diabetes management.
Negeri Sembilan, with a diabetes incidence rate of 33.2 per cent among adults aged 18 and above, was selected as the study’s Recruitment Centre, with Klinik Kesihatan Seremban Jalan Rasah playing a crucial role. The IMU Institute of Research, Development and Innovation (IRDI) will serve as the study’s Coordination Centre and storage facility for biological specimens.
Participation in the study is voluntary, and diabetic patients registered with the Diabetes Registry of Klinik Kesihatan Seremban will be invited to take part along with their adult family members. Utilizing digital systems and data infrastructure, comprehensive questionnaires will be used to collect participants’ personal and medical information, including socio-demographic data, medical history, dietary habits, physical activity, and various laboratory tests. Genetic profiling through blood samples will also be conducted to study individual predisposition to diabetes, complications, and response to treatments.
Over the next three years, the SeDia Cohort Study aims to recruit more than 10,000 participants. Regular follow-ups and data collection will occur every three years for a span of 12 years to assess the occurrence of diabetes and the emergence of new diabetes-related complications. Additionally, life events such as hospital admissions and deaths will be recorded annually.
With a focus on establishing the SeDia Cohort Study as a nationally significant research endeavor, both local and international researchers will be granted access to the study for further analysis and studies, subject to the approval of MREC. This collaboration aims to maximize research resources and develop a comprehensive understanding of diabetes, leading to specific intervention strategies for individuals and communities and shaping the future of diabetes management in Malaysia.
Diabetes, deeply entrenched in Malaysian behavior, culture, and lifestyle, has often been the subject of short-term studies that examine individual factors in isolation. The SeDia Cohort Study provides a unique opportunity for researchers to delve deeper into the role of genetics and the environment within the local community. By improving diabetes management guidelines and public health policies, this study aims to achieve better health outcomes and combat the escalating diabetes epidemic.
Given the extensive scope and duration of the SeDia Cohort Study, substantial funding is required. The study will be financed through public funds, including contributions from corporations and individuals. Recognizing the national significance of this initiative, IHH Healthcare Malaysia (IHH MY), as a Platinum Sponsor, has pledged RM2 million to support the SeDia Cohort Study. As part of IHH Healthcare Berhad, one of the world’s largest healthcare networks with 83 hospitals across 10 countries, IHH MY is committed to enhancing healthcare accessibility and affordability for patients.
The launch of the SeDia Cohort Study marks a pivotal moment in Malaysia’s fight against diabetes. By focusing on the local population and considering various factors holistically, the study is poised to generate crucial insights, advance diabetes management, and improve public health policies. With concerted efforts from all stakeholders, including corporations, foundations, and philanthropists, the SeDia Cohort Study is paving the way for a healthier future for all Malaysians.

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