Nineteen-year-old T. Maniharika from Vijayawada has pledged war against diabetes. Diagnosed as type-1 diabetic at the age of nine, Maniharika is now in her second year of MBBS. “It was diabetes that inspired me to become a doctor,” the teenager said, eliciting applause from her young audience, all of who has type-1 diabetes.

Maniharika’s short speech at a programme organised to launch ‘Young Warriors Against Diabetes’ Programme resonated with the around 300 children in the room, all of them diabetes patients. “When I was diagnosed, my family was devastated in my town, nobody understood how a young child could get diabetes,” Maniharika recalled. Over the years, she educated herself and now manages her condition, said the youngster who is enrolled with M.V. Hospital for Diabetes, Royapuram. “Go after your dreams, we are different but not less. Every day is a challenge, to reach and control blood sugar,” she said

Another devotee to the cause is Mari Ruddy, who has flown in from St. Paul, Minnesota to the city share her experience. Ms. Ruddy was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes at the age of 16. “My father was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes when I was one. Type-1 affects the entire family My brother has the condition and so does my sister Maureen’s husband,” Mari said.

Mari was a high school principal who regularly counselled children with diabetes. When she was 39 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Six years later, after radiation and chemotherapy, she was again diagnosed with cancer in the same breast. “The second time I got cancer, it was like it was from scratch and I had to undergo surgery,” she said. Now she plans to wants to settle down even while continue her work with children with diabetes, said Mari, founder of Team WILD (We Inspire Life with Diabetes), an organisation for women with diabetes.

The Young Warriors Against Diabetes will also address the issue of marriage, said Vijay Viswanathan, chief diabetologist of M.V.Hospital for Diabetes. “We have people who have got married and had children. The aim is to show that they can lead a normal life,” he said. Every year, the incidence of type-1 diabetes is increasing by three per cent in countries like India, he added. According to him. “It is estimated that there are 97,700 children with type-1 diabetes in India,” he added. Tourism Minister Gokula Indira launched a scholarship programme for students from poor socioeconomic background pursuing higher education.

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