Sahhtek – Diabetes Research

Shedding new light on
one of Malta’s main diseases

In 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that the global prevalence of diabetes was 9% among adults aged 18+. By 2030, diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in the world. More disturbingly, while the lifestyle-acquired Type 2 diabetes was long associated with adults, it is now also occuring in children. The rare Type 1 diabetes has no cure to date.

To address the alarming increase in diabetes, the Department of Anatomy and the Department of Public Health launched SAHHTEK, heralding a much needed research project of excellence.

SAHHTEK has the financial backing of the Alfred Mizzi Foundation as main sponsors, while support of the Research Trust, the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Atlas Insurance, and the Ministry of Energy and Health through the Parliamentary Secretary for Health is also notable.

Over the period of five months, the study has so far identified 4% newly diagnosed diabetics among the studied population and 7.5% already known diabetics with a relative male predominance. A large proportion of the population studied has been found to be suffering from high lipid profiles as well as obesity.

The two-year long study aims to recruit around 4,000 participants.

As part of the survey, a proportion of those studied undergo a special confirmatory test for diabetes known as the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). These began in February 2015, specifically for participants scoring fasting blood glucose in the grey zone (between 5.6-6.9mmol/l).

The last frequency study on diabetes of this magnitude in Malta was conducted in 1981.

Collecting data, promoting a healthier future

It is a great satisfaction performing these health checkups and making a difference in the health of people, many of whom are unaware of their health status. Having participants acknowledge the importance of this study and actually take the advice given to them regarding lifestyle changes is heart warming. We encourage all those receiving invitation to participate to take this once in a lifetime opportunity, not only to have a free health check up and lifestyle advice, but also to help our nation plan for a healthier future.

Dr Sarah Cuschieri from the Department of Anatomy is conducting this study under the guidance of Dr Julian Mamo, Head of the Department of Public Health.