Transform Your Life Hypothyroidism Campaign Launched

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We have launched Transform Your Life!

Subang Jaya, August 11, 2015 – The Malaysian Endocrine & Metabolic Society (MEMS) and Merck Malaysia launched “Transform Your Life”, a health awareness campaign, to encourage the public to be screened and, if necessary, treated for hypothyroidism. If this condition is left untreated, it could lead to serious long-term health complications.

The event was officiated by Datin Dr Nor Akma Yusuf, Deputy Director of Medical Development Division, who represented Dato’ Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Director General of Health, Malaysia. Also present were Professor Dr Nor Azmi Kamaruddin, President of MEMS, and Mr Frédéric Fack, Managing Director of Merck Malaysia.

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(From left to right) Professor Dr Nor Azmi Kamaruddin (President of Malaysian Endocrine & Metabolic Society), Datin Dr Nor Akma Yusuf, (Deputy Director of Medical Development Division, Ministry of Health) and Mr Frederic Fack (Managing Director of Merck Malaysia) during the unveiling of the poster at the campaign launch.

According to Professor Nor Azmi, the thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in front of our throat. It is responsible for producing thyroid hormones that control our metabolism, physical and sexual health as well as emotional well-being.

It is estimated that over 300 million people worldwide suffer from some form of thyroid disorder that usually results in the over-production or under-production of thyroid hormones.

Hypothyroidism is a disease where the thyroid hormones are insufficient to meet the body’s needs. Hypothyroidism is very common and this condition may be caused by a variety of factors, such as, the presence of certain antibodies that cause the immune system to attack the thyroid gland, thyroid surgery, radiation treatment, lack of iodine in the diet and also certain medications.

Professor Nor Azmi said that hypothyroidism disrupts the body’s functions. “Left untreated hypothyroidism may contribute to high cholesterol and blood pressure, goitre and severe depression. Uncontrolled hypothyroidism during pregnancy could also result in the baby being born with severe learning and developmental problems,” he explained.

Professor Nor Azmi added that hypothyroidism is relatively easy to treat. Unfortunately, many people especially the elderly continue to suffer because they do not know that they have the disorder, despite having the symptoms.

“Symptoms of hypothyroidism may range from chronic fatigue, constipation and constantly feeling cold, to sudden weight gain, low sexual drive and depression. As these symptoms are non-specific, people often mistakenly attribute them to stress, an unhealthy lifestyle or even ageing,” he said.

Professor Nor Azmi urged patients at-risk to take a simple blood test to check for hypothyroidism. These groups include all adult women (especially expectant mothers and those having difficulty conceiving), people over the age of 50, patients with Type 1 diabetes or other autoimmune diseases, and anyone whose family member has a thyroid condition.

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Getting tested: Mr Frederic Fack (seated, Managing Director of Merck Malaysia) participating in the free health screening while (from left to right) Datin Dr Nor Akma Yusuf (Ministry of Health), Dr Arif Shahar, Professor Dr Nor Azmi Kamaruddin and Professor Dr Norlela Sukor (Malaysian Endocrine & Metabolic Society) look on.

He said: “Through our ‘Transform Your Life’ campaign, we hope to educate the public about the symptoms of hypothyroidism and encourage them to get tested so that they may be treated as soon as possible.”

‘Transform Your Life’ features various activities such as free thyroid function tests, distribution of posters and booklets through hospitals and clinics, an educational website, and social media initiatives.

Speaking on behalf of Merck Malaysia, Mr Frédéric Fack expressed that the company is pleased to support the campaign. “Merck has a long-standing commitment to the treatment of thyroid diseases dating back to 1894 when our first thyroid medicine was launched.

“In 2009, we joined forces with the Thyroid Federation International (TFI) to inaugurate International Thyroid Awareness Week (ITAW), which is now an established and highly regarded global awareness campaign. Since then, we have been loyally supporting ITAW every year.

“Through our partnership with MEMS in ‘Transform Your Life’, we will be able to help shine a light on hypothyroidism in Malaysia with the hope of reducing the unnecessary suffering that too many are enduring every day,” he said.