Hyderabad: A toll-free helpline aimed at providing counselling for people living with diabetes and diabetic retinopathy was launched here today. Former cricketer V V S Laxman unveiled the helpline -- 18001212096 --, an initiative of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), in association with the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust UK.

Initially, the helpline would be available in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and expanded to other parts of the country later, a release said. "India is home to the second largest number of adults living with diabetes worldwide, after China. There were 72 million cases of diabetes in India in 2017 and this number is to double by 2025," it said.

Laxman, who made the first call after launching the helpline, lauded the initiative. Recalling that renowned cricketer Wasim Akram, who was one of the best performers of his time, never let it be known that he was a diabetic, Laxman said it showed that the condition can be managed. "But knowing how to do, how to manage, ...addressing that, is very important. That's where I feel this helpline is very, very important," he said. (PTI)