Do You Think Di­a­betes Is A Mi­nor Is­sue? Korean Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion Leader Dr. Kim Jae Hyeon Doesn’t Think So

Korean Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion leader Dr. Kim Jae Hyeon doesn’t think so

The Global Digest (English) - - Contents - By Staff Cor­re­spon­dent

The Korean Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion (KDA) was started over 50 years ago, right af­ter the end of Ja­panese col­o­niza­tion of Korea in 1945. To­day, its found­ing mem­bers are in their 80s and 90s. They were trained un­der the Ja­panese ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in the old meth­ods. In cur­rent times, the KDA has dras­ti­cally changed, where the new gen­er­a­tions are ed­u­cated in mod­ern ed­u­ca­tion through Euro­pean and US in­flu­ence.

Sim­i­lar to other coun­tries, the pur­pose of the KDA is to cure, pre­vent and pro­tect, and man­age di­a­betes, as well as, to de­velop re­lated aca­demic pro­grams. In the case of the Amer­i­can Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion, it leads the global fight against the deadly con­se­quences of di­a­betes.

KDA mem­bers are spe­cial­ists, doc­tors, and nurses. The or­ga­ni­za­tion has ap­prox­i­mately 10,000 mem­bers. In ad­di­tion, di­a­bet­ics have a sep­a­rate or­ga­ni­za­tion and sim­i­larly they have ap­prox­i­mately 10,000 mem­bers.

Di­a­betes symp­toms come from the con­se­quences of eat­ing be­cause of the un­der­ly­ing meta­bolic prob­lems. Where the sta­bil­ity of the blood glu­cose level changes, other se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions arise in the body, Dr. Jae Hyeon Kim ex­plained. Either in­creas­ing or de­creas­ing glu­cose and in­sulin lev­els will oc­cur in di­a­betes. In­sulin is a pro­tein pro­duced in the pan­creas which de­creases blood glu­cose and the en­docrine sys­tem is the main com­po­nent of di­a­betes, which causes se­ri­ous eye, kid­ney and blood cir­cu­la­tion prob­lems.

Most of the cases of di­a­betes in western coun­tries come from overeat­ing and the lack of ex­er­cise. Usu­ally, fat per­sons are found to have di­a­betes.

The lat­est fig­ures in Korea show that 50% of di­a­bet­ics are fat and the num­bers are likely to in­crease in the fu­ture. The other 50% are lean, but have ab­nor­mal body weight, lack of ex­er­cise, ge­netic prob­lems, and there are en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors such as toxin in foods, agri­cul­tural chem­i­cals, and parathions.

There are ap­prox­i­mately 6 mil­lion di­a­betes pa­tients in Korea; among them, 600,000 use in­sulin and 400,000 cases are the au­toim­mune type. In­ter­est­ingly, in­fants can also get di­a­betes be­cause of an au­toim­mune im­bal­ance (within the body) and oc­cupy around 10% of the cases in Korea.

Whereas western peo­ple de­velop large amounts of in­sulin, Asian peo­ple de­velop smaller amounts of in­sulin, and in the case of Africans, they de­velop di­a­betes be­cause of lack of food.

Di­a­betes as a hu­man rights is­sue

In Korea, di­a­betes pa­tients were looked down upon and were not thought of as or­di­nary peo­ple, com­pared to western coun­tries where di­a­betes pa­tients have been treated well and there has been much con­cern for them as pa­tients. Un­for­tu­nately, in Korea, there was a ten­dency to see di­a­betes pa­tients as lazy, and peo­ple did not want to min­gle with them.

More­over, di­a­betes pa­tients were not al­lowed to join the mil­i­tary ser­vices in Korea. As a con­se­quence, they could not get a job. There was a spe­cific pol­icy that whomever did not serve in the mil­i­tary, could not get a job in Korea. Apart from that is­sue, any other jobs from other com­pa­nies were scarce as well. The so­ci­ety to­tally ne­glected them on the grounds of their di­a­betes, sub­se­quently they were not able to lead nor­mal lives, Dr. Kim lamented.

Even can­cer and HIV pa­tients have re­ceived sup­port from the Korean Gov­ern­ment such as free medicines, but di­a­bet­ics re­ceived noth­ing in the past. So­ci­ety is chang­ing for the bet­ter. It is im­por­tant to know that it is not dan­ger­ous to be in a re­la­tion­ship with, and min­gle with di­a­bet­ics, such as talk­ing, shak­ing hands, and any com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Also, have a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship can­not trans­mit di­a­betes, said Dr Kim. Di­a­bet­ics can live the same as or­di­nary peo­ple.

The KDA has ap­prox­i­mately 100 cen­tral com­mit­tee mem­bers. It has 10 de­part­ments and each depart­ment has 10 sub­com­mit­tee mem­bers, as well as re­gional level com­mit­tees, na­tion­wide.

Dr. Jae Hyeon Kim is Vice-Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Korean Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion in 2011. He grad­u­ated in med­i­cal sci­ence in 1995 with a gov­ern­ment schol­ar­ship, spent four years in in­ter­nal medicine un­til 2000, and re­ceived an MD/PhD in en­docrinol­ogy in 2005 and 2007, re­spec­tively, from Seoul Na­tional Univer­sity. Cur­rently, he is serv­ing as As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor at Sungkyunkwan Univer­sity School of Medicine. He has two daugh­ters.

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