KUALA LUMPUR: Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a major cause of death among employees under the age of 60, with over 6,500 such cases reported last year, the Social Security Organisation (Socso) says.
Even more worrying, NCD-related deaths have been on the rise since 2006.
Socso CEO Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed said the figures were twice those recorded a decade ago.
“The number of deaths due to NCDs is greater than that of other causes, including road accidents,” he said at a forum on healthcare organised by the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute here today.
He also noted that over 14,000 employees became disabled as a result of NCDs.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines NCDs or chronic diseases as those that are not passed from person to person.
The four main types of NCD are cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes; cancer; chronic respiratory diseases including asthma; and diabetes.
Mohammed Azman gave a breakdown of statistics, revealing that an average of 46 workers died or became disabled every day last year due to NCDs.
This, he added, was only for the private sector and did not include civil servants.
“So if you think 46 deaths and disabilities a day is high, then I’m sorry to say that this is an underestimation.”
He said compensation paid out due to NCDs had also surged by 50% over the past five years.
Last year alone, the estimated value of compensation was RM731 million.
“If the uptrend continues, the Socso fund will be depleted. And the way we are going, this will happen soon,” he said, adding that by 2030, NCDs would cost the nation a 5% loss in GDP, or US$30 billion (about RM133 billion).
Socso currently insures about 6.5 million workers.
On a related matter, Mohammed Azman said a free health screening by Socso found that 66% of more than 460,000 employees over 40 had never gone through a health screening before.
It also found that some 73% of workers aged 40 and above are overweight or obese, while 62% have high or borderline cholesterol levels.
About 9% of workers above 40 are diabetic, 20% are hypertensive and another 21% are pre-hypertensive.
Four per cent of all employees who underwent health screening were at high risk of developing cardiac-related diseases in 10 years.
Mohammed Azman said if employers were serious about wanting to tackle NCD, they had to ensure the environment promoted a healthier lifestyle
“About 31% of male workers are smokers. How many companies have policies which discourage smoking?”
According to WHO, NCDs kill 38 million people each year, with cardiovascular diseases accounting for most deaths (17.5 million), followed by cancer (8.2 million), respiratory diseases (4 million) and diabetes (1.5 million).