Diabetics' guide to fasting during Ramadan launched by Diabetes Singapore

SINGAPORE - Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan can be tricky for diabetics, who risk having their blood sugar levels spike or plummet if they do not do it right.

But a new guide on fasting for diabetics, put together by non-profit organisation Diabetes Singapore, hopes to change this.

The booklet contains seven tips on how diabetics can fast safely, including information on portion control and the best times to test one's blood sugar levels. It is available in both English and Malay, and will be distributed at mosques nationwide.

The initiative is part of a broader campaign called the Special Education in Diabetes and Awareness Programme - Sedap for short - to raise awareness of diabetes in the Malay community.

"It's quite timely because Ramadan is just around the corner," said Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam, who is one of the leaders of a new workgroup set up to improve the health of ethnic minority groups in Singapore. Around 14.4 per cent of Malays and 14.2 per cent of Indians have diabetes, compared with 8.2 per cent of Chinese.

"It's actually often the best time for us to encourage and nudge healthy behaviours, (because) people are more reflective and they also look at the health components of fasting," Ms Rahayu said.

She was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event at Our Tampines Hub which aimed to raise awareness of diabetes and its complications.

Under the Sedap campaign, a series of talks and courses will also help diabetics of all ethnicities better manage their health. These include cooking courses, as well as educational talks to help people reverse pre-diabetes or build new habits.

During the event, Diabetes Singapore inked a three-year deal with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to help those with diabetes pick up complications as early as they can.

The firm will provide technology needed to quickly and easily screen patients for chronic kidney disease, a complication that people with diabetes can be susceptible to.

"We want to make sure that we are testing the patients early, to look for early signs in terms of the progression of the disease," said Mr Vinod Narayanan, country president for AstraZeneca Singapore.

"Our objective is to find the patients early, counsel them early so they can make modifications to their diet, and have the medical advice before the disease progresses into a later stage."