Making a Difference

Today’s guest blog is by Julie Brink, country director for Project HOPE in South Africa. Lilly and Project HOPE are working together to improve diabetes care through the Lilly NCD Partnership and The HOPE Centre in Zandspruit, an impoverished township in Johannesburg. In October, a team of Lilly Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors arrived in Zandspruit to join forces with HOPE Centre staff and volunteers to help make a difference for people living with diabetes. 

It’s estimated that nearly 15 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have diabetes. Yet less than 25 percent of these individuals have been formally diagnosed. Addressing the rising tide of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes is a daunting health challenge. Through the Lilly NCD PartnershipProject HOPELilly and local government have partnered to address this challenge in a meaningful way. 

Project HOPE has been partnering with Lilly for more than half a century. The result of our most recent collaboration in Zandspruit, South Africa, is The HOPE Centre, a community-based program that combines prevention, care, education and training in a comprehensive model aimed at improving the total well-being of people who are at risk of developing or are suffering from diabetes and/or hypertension.

In May 2013, this partnership evolved further when we welcomed the first team of Lilly Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors to The HOPE Centre. For two weeks, these 10 volunteers from Lilly operations across the globe applied their expertise in diabetes education, pharmacy, nutrition and other disciplines to help make our work at The HOPE Centre even more effective for the people of Zandspruit. They helped to improve the workflow of our clinic and pharmacy, created patient education materials, and developed improved tools for collecting and analyzing community screening forms, among other valuable projects. 

Now 18 months later, the contributions of these Lilly ambassadors are still having an impact as Project HOPE staff and volunteers continue to build on their work. For instance:

  • We have reduced the amount of time patients spend at our clinic—with 100 percent of patients reporting they are very satisfied or satisfied with their clinic visit.
  • Our pharmacy serves as a model for other primary-care clinic pharmacies.
  • We have launched patient education and support programs, trained community health workers to facilitate these programs, and have enrolled more than 320 patients to date.
  • We have screened more than 9,500 community members for diabetes and hypertension through our community screening campaigns.


It should be no surprise then that we were delighted to welcome a second team of Lilly Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors to The HOPE Centre in October. Yes, diabetes and other diseases continue to represent a major health challenge for communities such as Zandspruit. But through partnership and collaboration, we are making a difference and inspiring HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere).

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