Meet a doctor who is a ‘mother’ to 600 diabetic children

It is important to remember that type 1 diabetes is not a lifestyle disease and children who are trying to live with it have to fight a daily battle for survival. With scant government resources, children with type 1 diabetes in rural India do not live a long healthy life

Dr-Archana-Sarda-eng-featured-image

Diabetic patients have to take insulin thrice-a-day. It costs Rs 4,000 per month. Many people cannot access treatment due to poor financial condition. Due to which, Dr Archana Sarda, diabetologist has adopted 600 children, who suffer from type 1 diabetes, by sponsoring their treatment. Since 19 years, Dr Sarda has been taking care of these children selflessly like a mother.

As a young practitioner in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, Dr Archana Sarda, a diabetologist was disturbed with by the fact that she could not find an adult with type 1 diabetes. She later realised that children died to unavailability of insulin.

This gave her a severe jolt and in turn inspired here to adopt and take care of children suffering from type 1 diabetes.

“I came to know that because of lack of financial resources, lack of medicines and lack of awareness, children who are affected with type 1 diabetes during their childhood, do not grow up to be adults. And this is where the thought of adopting such children and enabling them to live a normal life came to my mind,” said Dr Archana.

Today, she has adopted around 600 children suffering from type 1 diabetes in Marathwada region of Maharashtra. The mothers of some of these children have been working as diabetes educator to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes.

She has established an NGO named Udaan which has a 24 x 7 helpline, coaching classes and assistance for education, in career and marriages.

“My first support was husband. After that my parents encouraged me to do something meaningful. And then all the type one diabetic children who are always with me,” she explained when asked her about what are the supportive factors for her.

Dr Archana further said, “We are focus on providing insulin to children, so that there is minimal risk of hospitalisation. We counsel them on food and medication. We raise awareness about the disease among families, schools and the area where the child lives. We do not offer any residential facility. I do not want to isolate them from society. My aim is to empower them to live normal life by living in with families, their villages and helping them to pursue whatever career they want to.”

The region of Marathwada has no diabetes educator. Children from around 150 km area around Aurangabad come to her for treatment and other help. Majority of them are from marginalised strata of society.

While there are no refrigerators to store insulin in rural areas, she has developed a novel technique to store them without using refrigerator. She has come out with a solution of storing insulin in earthen pots

On being asked how she came up with an idea to store insulin in an earthen pot, Dr Archana Sarda said, “Once during summer, the blood sugar level of the children visiting me was too high. After going through the details, I came to know that the insulin has denatured. After which we came up with this thought to keep insulin in an earthen pot.”

On speaking about the need for acceptance of kids with type 1 diabetes, she said, “Anyone who is different is discriminated against. Our society needs to be inclusive. Life for these children is not just about medication. Why should they hide their insulin? We must create an ecosystem which supports anyone who is different from so called different. Pain for these children is not about the pain caused by an insulin injection; but their problem is the discriminatory mind-set of people.”

She concluded saying, “Poor children should not just die because they are poor. We expect government to make insulin and glucometer free for these children. Children who come to me belong to the weaker sections of society. Even they have the right to live. Therefore, the government should provide free insulin to the diabetic patients in government and municipal hospitals.”