Today’s guest blog comes from Noel S. Paul, Global Leader of Corporate Responsibility for Elanco.
Nutrition and health go hand in hand. Poor nutrition can cause health to worsen, while improved nutrition can shore up defenses against disease and prevent illness.
I recently traveled to Beijing, China, where I saw firsthand how Lilly and Elanco, our animal health division, together with the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), are putting this principle into practice and working to improve nutrition for people affected by multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
This disease rivals HIV in terms of death—more than 1.5 million annually. It ravages the body and requires a staggering two years of often unpleasant treatment. People living with MDR-TB often can’t work—and that typically means they can’t afford food, let alone medicine or transportation to and from treatment sites. It's not only an issue for one person. It can devastate entire families.
When I visited a treatment site, I saw how the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership is giving these people and their families hope. It was extraordinary to see Lilly and Elanco working together to take a holistic approach to this disease. Medicine is critical, but in many cases it’s insufficient on its own. With nutritious food parcels and transportation vouchers, along with a full treatment course, many people have a good chance at recovery. The program is an excellent example of the power of public-private partnerships and the importance of government engagement.
I was especially moved by the positive attitudes of the people we met who are living with MDR-TB. I can’t stress it enough: This is a brutal, debilitating and often deadly disease. So it was incredible to see such ill people so full of hope and grateful for such practical support.
I also left with a great appreciation for the critical role that volunteers play in visiting and communicating with people affected by MDR-TB. A training session with 15 to 20 volunteers showed the importance of sustained investment in this region. The volunteers' motivation and engagement reinforced the vital role of our people along with our products.
I’ve returned home inspired to get back to work, and with a greater appreciation for the support systems here in the U.S. that we so often take for granted. I’m proud to be a part of this project and excited to follow its progress.
You can learn more about the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership’s work in China here.
Photo courtesy of Song Hangjian