Lilly Launches Diabetes-Focused NCD Program in South Africa

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I’m writing from Johannesburg where today we officially launched the South African arm of the Lilly NCD Partnership. Through our partnership with Project HOPE and the Donald Woods Foundation we are working to find new approaches to managing diabetes in a country that over the next 20 years is expected to experience the highest growth rate of diabetes in the world.

Leading up to the launch, we had the opportunity – the honor – to see how the partnership is already coming to life through the amazing work and dedication of our partners. Together we are trying new approaches to help improve the health and lives of some of the most vulnerable people in South Africa.

Ultimately, the goal of the Lilly NCD Partnership is to find new, cost-effective solutions that can be replicated and scaled up by governments around the world. Our initial focus is on diabetes in disadvantaged communities in Brazil, India, Mexico, and South Africa.

Thumbnail image for IMG_4533.PNGFirst we toured the new HOPE Center in Johannesburg that will serve the impoverished communities of Zandspruit and Cosmo City. Here, we’re taking a multi-pronged approach to diabetes and hypertension consisting of community outreach and support, preventative screening, and a new medical clinic providing state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment services. The Center is a ray of hope in the midst of ramshackle houses and desperate living conditions.

Next we headed deep into the Eastern Cape of South Africa to see how the Donald Woods Foundation (DWF) is leveraging its vast experience in fighting HIV/AIDS to fight NCDs. As we saw personally, people there are scattered across a vast, remote and beautiful yet unforgiving landscape, typically living in huts with no access to clean water or electricity, and who must walk miles upon miles to reach even the most basic health-care services. These communities are Ground Zero in the fight against HIV-Aids.


Through our partnership, DWF is launching a novel approach to screen hundreds of thousands of people living in the Mbashe and King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) districts. The program will integrate DWF’s ongoing efforts to provide primary health care for every person in every hut, with diabetes diagnosis and treatment as a priority. Along with our visit to clinics and a local hospital, we had the opportunity to go to the hut of an elderly man with diabetes and speak with him about his condition and how he walks 45 minutes each way to the clinic to get care and medicine.

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We then returned to Johannesburg to officially launch the Lilly NCD Partnership at today’s press conference.

Our visits made clear that the program is already well underway and that we, without question, picked the right partners. I am blow away by what the people from Project HOPE and DWF are already accomplishing – and what we’ll do together over the next four years of our partnership.

At Lilly, our strategy is to improve outcomes for individual patients. This week, I’ve had the opportunity to gain an even better understanding of what that strategy means and how we are going about doing it, even for people who can’t afford our medicines. It makes me proud beyond words.

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