Diabetes in Thailand: A Partnership-Based Approach


Diabetes affects more than eight percent of the Thai population, a number that is on the rise, and nearly half of these cases remain undiagnosed. In light of this epidemic, local diabetes associations and multinational pharma companies based in Thailand are coming together to provide awareness, education, and support to both doctors and patients. 


We are convinced that it is our responsibility beyond the product to educate doctors and healthcare providers across many disciplines in order that patients get the best care.

John Dawber, Novo Nordisk Thailand

According to the International Diabetes Foundation, there are more than four million people living with diabetes in Thailand. Though Thailand ranks lower in diabetes prevalence than most other Asian countries, the disease still affects more than eight percent of the population, increasing from four percent in 1980, according to the World Health Organization. And the International Diabetes Federation projects that the number of Thai people with diabetes in 2040 will increase to 5.3 million. Nearly one half of all cases are currently undiagnosed, leaving a substantial number of patients without access to necessary treatment. Dr Armin Wiesler of Boehringer Ingelheim Thailand recently told PharmaBoardroom that, “there are more than 200 deaths each day due to diabetes and related disease complications. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, which is the number one cause of death for diabetics. Many patients are not aware of this critical link between diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”


In light of these concerning trends, pharma companies are attempting to form collaborations to raise awareness. Boehringer Ingelheim recently launched a campaign in collaboration with the Diabetes Association of Thailand called ‘For Your Sweetheart’ in order to raise awareness of the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The campaign video received more than four million views within just a few weeks.


Novo Nordisk, the global diabetes leader with a 30-year history in Thailand, has established partnerships with the World Diabetes Foundation as well as hospitals and key opinion leaders with the goal of supporting rural diabetes clinics and educating doctors. According to John Dawber, the firm’s VP and GM in Thailand, “We are convinced that it is our responsibility beyond the product to educate doctors and healthcare providers across many disciplines in order that patients get the best care.”


Local Thai diabetes groups are also working hard to establish connections with pharma companies. Dr Wannee Nityanant, president of the Diabetes Association of Thailand, and Dr Supawadee Likitmaskul, president of Siriraj Diabetes Center of Excellence, have worked together to build a diabetes education program. The doctors report that, “while we were establishing our program, we collaborated with Sanofi Aventis, Roche Diagnostics, and many university hospitals. We built up the team and program through 25 hospitals at the start. Now we have 32 different teams around the country that are confident taking care of Type 1 patients. Thanks to collaboration we can also collect information about the patients and have a better picture of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in Thailand.”

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