The power of partnership in tackling disease

Lilly’s Bart Peterson says discovering new solutions to prevent and treat non-communicable diseases globally will require creativity and co-operation.

Over the last decade, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer have been recognised as an enormous global health challenge, impacting the lives of people all around the world and those who care for them. While many people think of non-communicable diseases as a problem only in wealthier countries, the reality is that they are a growing problem everywhere.

Discovering new solutions to prevent and treat non-communicable diseases globally will require the collective creativity, determination and co-operation of scientists, healthcare providers, governments and advocacy organisations.

Recently, I was fortunate to travel to Switzerland to participate in this year’s Geneva Health Forum – a global, health-focused biennial event drawing policymakers and frontline health workers together to discuss exactly how they can work together to help overcome the devastating impact of non-communicable diseases (NCD) on global health.

“Workable solutions that make a true difference in the lives of those we serve require fact-based experimentation, adaptation to on-the-ground realities, and collaboration”

As a part of this event, Lilly partnered with five other organisations to present the NCD Café, an interactive series of moderated discussions around overcoming the challenges presented by non-communicable diseases. Like the broader Geneva Health Forum programme, this was a chance to hear first-hand how organisations from different sectors can and do collaborate to discover and implement practical solutions to improve the lives of people living with non-communicable diseases.

At Lilly, we are committed to finding solutions to help prevent and treat non-communicable diseases. We have a long history of working as a partner and innovator in addressing non-communicable diseases, and this forum presented an opportunity to share some of our learnings from Lilly’s NCD partnership and its MDR-TB partnership (focused on multidrug-resistant tuberculosis), and to learn from others.

The Geneva Health Forum also confirmed something I know from Lilly’s collective global health experiences: workable solutions that make a true difference in the lives of those we serve require fact-based experimentation, adaptation to on-the-ground realities, and collaboration among diverse organisations with common global health goals.

Lilly’s global health partnerships seek a positive impact on the health and lives of people through multiple approaches, including:

• Training health workers and building health system capacities

• Transferring manufacturing technology and know-how to local producers to increase access to TB therapies

• Improving infection control processes and diabetes management in hospitals and clinics

• Strengthening the media’s understanding of key issues around multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and diabetes

• Raising disease awareness among at-risk populations.

“This fact-based approach, known as ‘research, report, advocate’, enables governments to invest limited public funds wisely”

We know that multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and diabetes are highly complex global health issues that vary from setting to setting. As a result, Lilly works hand-in-hand with leading global and local partners in places hard-hit by these diseases – such as areas of Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa – to understand the medical needs of different peoples and the environments unique to each area. We then develop pilot projects for intervention, measure the impact of those projects and share the findings with governments and NGOs so that successful interventions can be scaled up for wider benefit and impact.

This fact-based approach, known as ‘research, report, advocate’, enables governments to invest limited public funds wisely in health infrastructure improvements with the greatest chances of benefitting people living with diabetes or multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

There is no single ideal solution to the global health challenges that non-communicable diseases pose. That is why we have designed our programmes for close co-ordination with stakeholders in the public, private and non-profit sectors to identify and address unique needs related to non-communicable diseases within specific settings.

We are inspired by the positive impact these partnerships have already had on the lives of people facing these diseases and their families, and we are determined to continue to implement this partnership model to reduce the toll of these diseases worldwide.

 

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About the author:

Mr Peterson is the senior vice-president of corporate affairs and communications at Eli Lilly and Company.

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