The exponential rise amongst the people with Diabetes in India has made the country the 'Diabetes Capital of the world'. The chronic medical condition is of significant concern amongst the Indian population, with more than half of it being at the risk of incurring the disease at some point in their lives. One in six diabetic patients in the world belongs to India, making it one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. The sharp increase in the cases could be attributed to rapidly changing lifestyles that include no physical activity, prolonged exposure to sedentary living habits, changes in the food habit and a lot more. India houses 77 million diabetics, standing at number two after China with more than 116 million diabetic patients.
Diabetes: A Life-Long Health Condition
While Diabetes is often associated with age, it is alarming to see how many youngsters face life-long health conditions. Children are at the highest ever risk of incurring type 1 diabetes, which would require them to depend on several insulin injections every day. Nupur Lalvani, the founder of Blue Circle Diabetes Foundation, has lived with the disease for the past 26 years. While speaking to The Logical Indian, Lalvani tells us, "I was fortunate enough because my parents never made me feel 'different' or special just because I had Diabetes. However, as I grew up and read more about the condition, I came across astonishing incidents of how differently people have been treated just because they had Diabetes."
Lalvani founded the Blue Circle Foundation two years ago as a volunteer-led, non-profit organization and support group that works in diabetes awareness and advocacy. It is the largest patient-led diabetes community & support group in India that welcomes people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, etc. It aims to educate, engage and empower people with Diabetes to live happy, healthy lives. The Foundation seeks to address the lack of access & to bust diabetes myths and stigma associated with the condition.
While describing how she found about her Diabetes, Lalvani tells The Logical Indian, "I was very young, and nobody knew that Type 1 Diabetes is a disease and that it also happens to children. So, when I was diagnosed, it was a big shock for everyone at home. For me, as a child, it never bothered me. For the most part, I did not know, and when we were in the hospital, I kept asking my mother why being in the hospital. The next day, she told me that I suffer from a condition called Juvenile Diabetes, and they used to call it juvenile because they thought it happens to children only. Now, of course, we know that it can happen at any age". She further adds, "Since that day, if I eat three-four times in a day, I have to take my insulin injections at least four to six times".
While talking to The Logical Indian about The Blue Circle Foundation, Lalvani says, "We started the Foundation about two years ago, and the reason was that we thought there might be smaller cities and even smaller groups, who would not have anyone around them to tell them that it was okay to live with that condition and that they were not alone. I felt the need for an online community so that people could continue to remain in touch even if they are hundreds of kilometres apart. Initially, we had a lot of people with Type 1 Diabetes because that was what I and some of my close friends had. Later, we realized the need of being more inclusive, since Type 2 Diabetes is way more common". She thought if the community were inclusive and together, the numbers would be more significant, and the group would have a stronger voice in advocacy and policy-making.
Several Types Of Diabetes
Lalvani explained the several types of Diabetes while speaking to The Logical Indian; she said, "Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition that can happen to anyone at any point in their lives. Type 2, which is also the most common type of the disease, happens mostly because of lifestyle changes. Moreover, only adults or older people used to have it in the olden days, but recently, I have seen a young boy of 12- or 13-years old suffering from the condition. Then, there is gestational diabetes that happens during pregnancy". Women who experience gestational diabetes during their pregnancy are 50 per cent more vulnerable to incurring chronic diabetic conditions later in their lives. "There is another type, called the Latent Auto-immune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), a slower version of the Typer 1 diabetes. One type is called the Maturity Onset of Diabetes in the Young (MODY), also, within these, there are several other types as well".
The Foundation has undertaken several initiatives to improve its reach and spread awareness about the disease. Some of its game-changing initiatives included the Buddy Project Helpline, which was born out of lockdown and is India's first community-led, Diabetes & mental health mobile app-based helpline run by trained, multilingual volunteers with lived experiences. Under Project Isha, the Foundation endeavours to reach out to economically and socially disadvantaged people living with Diabetes in India. The project aims to relieve the financial burden of living with Diabetes and fill the gaps in Diabetes education through structured mentoring.
Selected For Facebook Accelerator Program
'Diabetes Support Network India', a Facebook community run by the Blue Circle Diabetes Foundation, has become the first Indian diabetes community selected in the 2021 Facebook Community Accelerator Programme, focused on helping leaders harness the power of their community to turn ideas into action. During the eight-month program, 131 participants spread over nine regions of the world will receive mentorship, early access to all new Facebook products and funding up to $50,000 to invest in initiatives that extend their community's positive impact. Diabetes Support Network India is one of the 13 winning communities from the first-ever India cohort with over 13,000 applications.