Manuel Maria Laginha Gonçalves

Portugal

Hello all! My name is Manuel Laginha Gonçalves, I'm 23 years old and I live in Lisbon, Portugal. I have had diabetes since 2005. At the beginning, it was difficult to accept that I had "something" that none of my colleagues had. Friends and family made me see that it was not that big of a problem. Well, if you look at it, diabetes is not that bad. It made me more confident, more ambitious and healthier.
Since the beginning of 2012, I have been deeply involved in diabetes, participating in conferences; events etc. and that changed my life. I am currently studying Nutrition in my hometown and learning to take care of others and myself as well!

My greatest challenge is to always be better at whatever I am doing. I consider myself to be very ambitious and having diabetes only made me wanting to climb higher and higher each time. As you all know, diabetes is always connected to myths and misconceptions. I love to crush those by showing people that I can accomplish my goals even with diabetes.

In Portugal, fortunately, we cannot complain about access to medication. We have to pay for test stripes (at a low price) but that's about it. The access to insulin, needles, glucometers is free. The insulin pump however, is a big issue over here. We have a limited number of insulin pumps per year and per organization and people who are given the pumps are those who are recommended by their doctors so, not anyone who wants to have a pump can have it. Well, they can but they have to pay for it. The same goes with the continuous glucose monitor. There is an amount that is paid by the government but we still have to pay for it.

I am currently working with the NJA youth group, of my MA, the APDP - the world’s oldest association exclusively working with diabetes. I am responsible for a football team for people with diabetes and I am also a part of many events and activities that we organize within the group like conferences, speeches, awareness campaigns etc.

My main goal is to apply the things that I learned at the young leaders conference in Melbourne from speakers and friends to my project, which is to bring our football team to another level; making more appearances like traveling around the country raising awareness in a campaign that will also promote a healthy lifestyle and emphasizing the importance of physical activity. By doing this, we could bring knowledge to people who have less access to information.