Public Defence: Wai Phyo Aung

MD Wai Phyo Aung at Institute of Health and Society will be defending the thesis “Diabetes mellitus in Yangon Region, Myanmar. Urban-rural difference in prevalence, trends and associated factors” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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Trial Lecture – time and place

See Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Lecturer Tun Myint, Simon Fraser University, Canada
  • Second opponent: Associate Professor Mari Myhrstad, OsloMet
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Anne Marit Mengshoel, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Associate Professor Nina Østerås, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Researcher Marte Kjøllesdal, University of Oslo


Diabetes is a rising health challenge globally. Myanmar is facing a double burden of diseases, with challenges related to both communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCD). The knowledge about the prevalence and trends of diabetes in Myanmar is still limited.

The aims of the thesis were to assess the diabetes prevalence among 25-74 old women and men in the urban and rural areas of Yangon region, Myanmar in 2014, to assess changes in prevalence, awareness, treatment and control between 2004 and 2014, to describe the fatty acid content of commonly used vegetable oils and to investigate the association between use of palm oil, as compared to peanut oil, and NCD risk factors. Based on the WHO STEPS methodology, the thesis composed of the three household based cross-sectional studies (2004, 2014 and 2016).

The overall prevalence of diabetes did not increase significantly from 2004 (8%) to 2014 (10%), except among the oldest participants (≥ 60 years) (from 15% to 32%). The proportion who were aware of having diabetes, and who was under treatment, increased during the decade from 44% to 69% and from 55% to 69%, respectively. The proportion of participants with controlled diabetes did not change. The diabetes prevalence was higher in urban than rural areas. Non-branded oils were more commonly used than branded oil (peanut oil (43% vs 10%), palm oil (19% vs 12%)). Non-branded palm oil had a less favourable fatty acid content than branded palm oil. Using palm oil, as compared to peanut oil, was associated with several NCD risk factors among women, but seemed to have opposite effect on NCD risk factors among men.

In conclusion, we speculate that the full effect of the democratic and social reforms in Myanmar on health has not yet been seen, and that a stronger increase in diabetes prevalence is to be expected in the coming years. This suggests a need for programmes implementing preventive measures, and regulation of non-branded oils should be enhanced.

Additional information

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Published Jan. 20, 2020 1:39 PM - Last modified Jan. 20, 2020 3:26 PM