Hello fellow youth leaders. I find typing a paragraph of self introduction rather painful. So I am going to simplify it.
• First Name: Pei Yan
• Last Name: Heng
• Age: 28
• D.O.B.: 19 March 1986
• Diabetes history: 17 years 9 months (I was first diagnosed with type 1 but gradually, my doctor progressed me to type 2. I have yet to fully understand my medical history.)
• Date of diagnosis: 7 June 1996
• Education:I have a Degree in Mathematics with minor in Physics and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education. I am currently doing Master Degree in Science Communication (Part-time).
• Occupation:Full-time teacher (I teach Mathematics and Science at Secondary level, equivalent to 8th-11th Grade)
I am a volunteer nature guide, and I care about the marine biodiversity in Singapore and I record the observations from various survey trips that I helped with on my blog. I am also a recreational Advance Open Water certified diver.
I am part of the core team of SugarRush, the Teen Support wing of a Diabetes Support Group of a local hospital.
For the past 17 years, the greatest challenge for me was telling my friends that I have diabetes and managing my diabetes. Diabetes is not a non-communicable disease that Asians are willing to accept. I did not know how I should break the news to my friends. Only a few know of my condition but they tend to forget about it. Therefore, I hardly take blood glucose readings as I don't carry my meter out with me nor do I keep it within sight. At meal times, I will excuse myself to go to the bathroom to take my insulin injection. It was tough managing my diabetes from high school onwards to adulthood. There was so much school work and activities going on in the fast-paced society of Singapore, even right up to university and whilst I was working as a teacher. It was stressful. During this time I neglected my diabetes management and could not maintain good blood glucose or HbA1c readings. This also negatively affected my emotional strength, as I was upset about my readings during each visit to my endocrinologist.
Off hand, I know of 6 government hospitals, 5 private hospitals and some polyclinics (community health centres) that have diabetes clinics. There are other private diabetes clinics in Singapore too. Health care is of great importance to the government. All medication requires a prescription by the patient's endocrinologist, which is then purchased from the pharmacy at the respective clinic or hospital. As far as I know, we can no longer purchase emergency supplies from general pharmacy. Other supplies such as blood glucose meters, test strips, lancets, syringes and pen needles can be purchased at any pharmacy (hospital or general) without a prescription. People with diabetes in Singapore use a small variety of insulin. The major pharmaceutical companies for diabetes in Singapore are Novo, Solostar and Medtronics; therefore most insulin is Novorapid, Lantus, Levemir, or pumps. I think there are still patients who are using mixed insulin. Oral medication is also commonly prescribed as we have a high number of patients with type 2. However, insulin is not heavily subsidised by the government.
My MA is the Association of Diabetes Educators Singapore (ADES) and I am currently in the process of planning to create a young adult with diabetes group in Singapore to gather as many young adults with diabetes together and form a supportive community.
I am also currently doing a module on Health and Disease in a changing world and will be working on a comparative study in diabetes policies between IDF, Australia and Singapore. I hope that through this research, I can find out what possible support structures Singapore can improve on or implement. It will be a bonus if I get to talk to the Health Minister about my findings and suggestions.
My plans (planning stage):
1. To start a young adult diabetes support community in Singapore.
2. Diabetes advocacy in Singapore
• In schools: With obesity in children increasing, the number of T1 in children cases is on the rise. Teachers will encounter more students with diabetes and it is important that all educators and school staff be equipped with basic knowledge about diabetes and how to handle diabetes related situations.
• With members of public: Slowly encouraging people with diabetes to stand out of the crowd. Diabetes is a condition of concern in Singapore as the number of people with type 2 diabetes is on the rise. There is a need to change Asian's perspective of diabetes, especially in public areas.
• With the Ministry of Health (if possible): Improving policies related to diabetes in Singapore.