What Lilly means to us

As I was walking through the new Chandaria Cancer and Chronic Diseases Centre at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret, Kenya, I was reminded of the early days of diabetes mellitus (DM) care in western Kenya.

When I first arrived here almost a decade ago, a diagnosis of Type 1 DM was essentially a death sentence.  With ~ 75% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa not having access to reliable stocks of insulin, many patients faced an especially harrowing situation. This is further compounded by the lack of access to even basic monitoring supplies. Patients previously relied on facilities like MTRH to provide all diabetes monitoring during their irregular visits to the facility every 3-6 months. This visit typically included only a point-of-care random blood sugar whenever the frequently stocked out strips were available, which forced providers to make the vast majority of decisions based on nothing more than a series of educated guesses.

This unfortunate reality for diabetes patients has been completely reversed through the efforts of the Lilly-AMPATH partnership. We now are able to provide early detection through home-based screening which prevents the many complications seen with the late stage diagnosis. In addition, we have also created one of the largest home glucose monitoring programs in the Sub-Saharan Africa public sector with over 800 patients enrolled in this highly impactful service.           

However, one of the biggest developments in improving care and outcomes has been the continual supply of insulin through the life-saving product support from Lilly. This partnership has been able to transform the <25% availability of insulin seen in most Sub-Saharan African settings to ~98% at MTRH.  Lilly's support has helped improve thousands of lives throughout western Kenya as they now have the confidence that insulin supplies will be available to help them avoid life threatening complications they would inevitably face in the absence of insulin.  As we continue to distribute Lilly insulin to patients, we are consistently reminded of how Lilly's singular act of kindness donating insulin to our program has spawned the creation of all the advancements in diabetes we have seen throughout western Kenya.

Sonak Pastakia, PharmD, MPH, BCPS
Associate Professor, Purdue University College of Pharmacy