About chronic diseases

in Malaysia

Chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both [1]

Of the top 10 causes of premature deaths (measured in YLL*, see Table below) in Malaysia, 6 are caused by chronic diseases, in the following order: Heart & circulatory diseases, Cancers, Lung diseases, Diabetes, Kidney and Liver disease [2].

Rank Disease # YLLs* in 1000s YLLs in % of total
1 Heart & circulatory diseases(Ischaemic heart disease, Stroke, Other cardio & circulatory) 887 24.1
2. Infections (Dengue, HIV/AIDS, Typhoid fevers, Tuberculosis, LRTI) 597 16.2
3. Injuries (Road injury, Other transport injuries, Drowning, Falls, Interpersonal violence) 427 11.7
4. Cancers (Lung, Breast, Colorectal, Liver cancers and Leukemia) 248 6.8
5. Neonatal & childhood conditions (Congenital anomalies, Preterm birth, Neonatal encephalopathy) 166 4.5
6. Lung diseases, COPD & Asthma 134 3.6
7. Diabetes 94 2.6
8. Kidney diseases, mostly Chronic kidney disease 62 1.7
9. Liver diseases, mostly Cirrhosis 42 1.1
TOTAL 3671 100%
*YLLYears of Life Lost due to premature mortality

The vast majority of adult Malaysians will have one or more of these chronic diseases or the risk factors associated with them (obesity, physical inactivity, hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, tobacco & alcohol use,) [3-21]. And worst, most people with these conditions or risk factors will not be aware they have them, and even among those who knew, few are properly treated [3,4,5,12,22].

Health Malaysia’s mission is to help empower local communities to screen and treat these chronic diseases and their risk factors, by harnessing advances in point-of-care diagnostic and digital health technologies, which have now made large-scale community-based screening possible


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/index.htm
  2. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) http://www.healthdata.org/results/country-profiles
  3. [Lipid] Halizah MR, et al Hypercholesterolemia Prevalence, Awareness, Treatment and Control Among Adults in Malaysia: The 2015 National Health and Morbidity Survey, Malaysia. Global Journal of Health Science 2018; 10; 11-23
  4. [FH] Shi, Z. et al. Familial hypercholesterolemia in China: prevalence and evidence of under-detection and under-treatment in a community population. Intl J. Cardiol. 174, 834–836 (2014)
  5. [HT] Ab Majid, et al. Prevalence, Awareness, Treatment and Control of hypertension in the Malaysian population: findings from the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2006–2015. J Hum Hypertens 32, 617–624 (2018).
  6. [DM] 2. Letchuman GR, Wan Nazaimoon WM, Wan Mohamad WB, et al. Prevalence of diabetes in the Malaysian National Health Morbidity Survey III 2006. Med J Malaysia 2010;65:180e6.
  7. [Obesity] Mohamad Nor, N., Ambak, R., Mohd Zaki, N. et al. An update on obesity research pattern among adults in Malaysia: a scoping review. BMC Women's Health 18, 114 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-018-0590-4
  8. [Abdo obesity] Mohamud WN, Ismail AA, Sharifuddin A, et al. Prevalence of metabolic syndrome and its risk factors in adult Malaysians: results of a nationwide survey. Diabetes Res ClinPract 2012;96:91e7.
  9. [Abdo obesity] Zaki M, Robaayah Z, Chan SP, et al. Malaysia Shape of the Nation (MySoN): a primary care based study of abdominal obesity in Malaysia. Med J Malaysia 2010;65: 143e9.
  10. [NAFLD] Goh SC, Ho ELM, Goh KL. Prevalence and risk factors of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in a multiracial suburban Asian population in Malaysia. HepatolInt 2012;7:548–554
  11. [HBV] mLim ZZ, Teo JS, Tan AC, Lim TO. Prevalence of Chronic Hepatitis B and C in Malaysia- results from a community-based screening campaign. Preprint at medRxivhttps://medrxiv.org/cgi/content/short/2020.04.30.20085944v1 (2020).
  12. [HBV] Lim ZZ, et al. Cascade of care, awareness and treatment of Chronic Hepatitis B in Malaysia- findings from a community based screening campaign. Preprint at medRxivhttps://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.15.20131409v1 (2020)
  13. [CKD] Hooi LS, Ong LM, Ahmad G, et al. A population-based study measuring the prevalence of chronic kidney disease among adults in West Malaysia. Kidney Int. 2013;84:1034–40
  14. [CKD] Saminathan, T.A., Hooi, L.S., Mohd Yusoff, M. et al. Prevalence of chronic kidney disease and its associated factors in Malaysia; findings from a nationwide population-based cross-sectional study. BMC Nephrol 21, 344 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12882-020-01966-8
  15. [Eye] Bourne RRA, et al. Magnitude, temporal trends, and projections of the global prevalence of blindness and vision impairment: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Glob Health 2017; published online Aug 2.
  16. [Eye] Source: Flaxman SR, et al. Vision Loss Expert Group of the Global Burden of Disease Study. Global causes of blindness and distance vision impairment 1990–2020: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2017;5:e1221-e1234
  17. [Carotid] Song P, Fang Z, Wang H, et al. Global and regional prevalence, burden, and risk factors for carotid atherosclerosis: a systematic review, meta-analysis, and modelling study. Lancet Glob Health 2020; 8: e721–29.
  18. [Carotid] Song P Xia W Zhu Y et al. Prevalence of carotid atherosclerosis and carotid plaque in Chinese adults: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Atherosclerosis. 2018; 276: 67-73
  19. [AAA] Li X, Zhao G, Zhang J, Duan Z, Xin S. Prevalence and trends of the abdominal aortic aneurysms epidemic in general population--a meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 2;8(12):e81260. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081260.
  20. [AAA] Li W, et al. Predictors Associated With Increased Prevalence of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm in Chinese Patients with Atherosclerotic Risk Factors. Eur J VascEndovasc Surg. 2017 Jul;54(1):43-49. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2017.04.004.
  21. [Cancer] Ferlay J, Colombet M, Soerjomataram I et al. Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence and Mortality for 38 Cancers: GLOBOCAN 2018. Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer/World Health Organization; 2018
  22. [Multi] RP Kaur, GF Ho, et al. The elephant in the room- Universal coverage for Costly treatments in an upper middle income country. Preprint at BioRxivdoi: https://doi.org/10.1101/214296(2017)