Photo - (From left) Annie Chin, Managing Director of MSD in Malaysia; and Professor Dr Nor Azmi Kamaruddin, Senior Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist unveil the 'Ramadan, Diabetes & Me' Apple Mobile App and 'The Facts About Fasting During Ramadan' Info Kit
MSD has launched its first Apple mobile app called 'Ramadan, Diabetes & Me' together with an information kit 'The Facts about Fasting during Ramadan' to help Muslim diabetics track their sugar levels during the holy month of Ramadan, said the healthcare company.
MSD managing director Annie Chin said though fasting during the month of Ramadan, which is expected to start on 9 July after the sighting of the new moon, is an obligatory duty of all healthy Muslims there are exemptions for those who are sick or on medication.
According to medical recommendations, most often, fasting is not advisable for patients with diabetes, said Chin. However, to better prepare diabetic Muslims in Malaysia for fasting, MSD has announced two customised tools: 'Ramadan, Diabetes and Me,' which is its first Apple mobile application - and an information kit.
She said the Apple mobile app included Ramadan information, such as prayer, sunrise and sunset times based on the user's location and a built-in compass for prayer direction.
"It also includes a blood sugar tracker that allows easy reporting of glucose levels to a healthcare practitioner during the four weeks of Ramadan. Users can share their blood sugar level reports directly with their healthcare professional via email," said Chin. "The app also includes general recommendations for the blood sugar levels at which fasting should cease due to a risk of low blood sugar. Other key features include questions to ask a healthcare professional before beginning Ramadan fasting, including diet and possible treatment."
MSD also cited medical references including the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse to point out that fasting affects one's blood sugar levels especially during the day.
Despite the guidelines, nearly 79 percent of Muslims with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) or about 50 million worldwide insist on fasting, according to Ramadan Study Group. (2011). Hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, is a well-known risk associated with daytime fasting during this period, especially for patients with T2DM. It occurs when the level of glucose in the blood drops too low for the body's needs.
"MSD recognises the unique challenges faced by the millions of people with diabetes around the world who choose to fast during Ramadan," said Chin. "We hope the 'Ramadan, Diabetes and Me' app will support type 2 diabetes patients in better managing the potential health issues they may face as a result of changing their eating patterns during Ramadan."
"By leveraging the power and reach of mobile technology, MSD is providing yet another opportunity to support Muslim diabetics living withT2DM. We are constantly striving to create new and better tools to support the diabetes community in a variety of ways," she said.
Chin added that 'The Facts about Fasting during Ramadan' information kit detailed key facts about fasting, possible tips prior to fasting, a blood sugar level tracker to track their blood sugar levels on a daily basis as well as a calendar to document the times of prayer and breaking fast.
Senior consultant endocrinologist Professor Dr Nor Azmi Kamaruddin, said, "T2DM patients in Malaysia who plan to fast are strongly advised to undergo a pre-Ramadan medical assessment with their healthcare professionals well before the month of Ramadan."
"Being able to record sugar levels throughout the day is extremely important and will allow physicians to better support diabetic patients in the management of their disease to ensure they don't put themselves at risk of hypoglycaemia or other diabetic complications," said Professor Dr. Nor.
He pointed out that symptoms of hypoglycaemia could range from mild to severe and may include sweating, headache, confusion and dizziness, anxiety irritability and heart palpitations
MSD (formed from a merger of pharmaceutical companies Merck and Schering-Plough) operates in more than 140 countries and has been in Malaysia since 1965.
'The Facts about Fasting during Ramadan' information kit is available at all Persatuan Diabetes Malaysia's offices nationwide as well as most clinics, hospitals and pharmacies. 'Ramadan, Diabetes and Me' Apple mobile app is available in English, Arabic and Bahasa Malaysia for download at no cost via iTunes. All health data is held only on the user's individual mobile device and is never collected by MSD or Apple, or connected in any way with identifying information.
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