By Dave Ricks
Medical science in recent decades has made extraordinary progress in the fight against many diseases. Unfortunately, far too many people do not benefit from all of this progress, especially those living in some low- and middle-income communities. The World Health Organization reports that 400 million people worldwide do not have access to essential health services.[i] Access Accelerated–a new multi-stakeholder partnership announced this week—aims to confront that dismal statistic.
Involving the World Bank, the Union for International Cancer Control and several pharmaceutical companies, Access Accelerated seeks to improve care for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) by overcoming barriers to health-care access. Eli Lilly and Company, which I lead, is proud to be a part of this global collaboration. watch full Bastille Day 2016 film online
NCDs—such as cancer, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, heart disease, and mental illness—are responsible for three out of five deaths across the world. Their impact is especially high in many low- and middle-income countries, where limited resources and longstanding barriers impede access to care. Access Accelerated will pilot new approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat NCDs in hard-hit areas and will draw on solutions developed by individual companies’ global health programs—including Lilly’s.
For two decades, the Lilly Global Health Partnership has connected people in resource-limited communities with much-needed care. We began by working with Drs. Paul Farmer and Jim Kim to address the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in Peru, but seeing the full complexity of unmet needs, we were determined to do more. So Lilly undertook a decade-long technology-transfer effort to make MDR-TB treatments more accessible by having them manufactured closer to where they were needed. Later, we created community-based projects to improve the delivery of care in four MDR-TB “hotspots.” Along the way, we and our partners learned a great deal about improving access in sustainable ways. These lessons helped us when we expanded our global health efforts to include NCDs, namely, diabetes and cancer in eight countries.
Improving access to health care means working across geographies with many different players who often face similar issues. To facilitate learning across all of the groups involved, we employ an evidence-based approach and design projects with built-in metrics to show which interventions work and which do not. This “Research, Report, Advocate” approach involves researching new community-based interventions, widely reporting findings to benefit other governments with similar challenges, and advocating for adoption of proven solutions. This approach leads to better informed government health decision making to promote better health for millions of people in other countries.
We recently announced a new company-wide commitment—known as Lilly 30×30. With Lilly 30×30, we are going beyond our existing global-health partnership and mobilizing teams across the company to help create sustainable access for people we do not reach today. By 2030, we aim to reach 30 million people in resource-limited settings each year—a six-fold increase over our current reach—by developing new solutions to the unique challenges facing people in resource-limited settings. In other words, the ingenuity that Lilly employees bring to discovering medicines for cancer, diabetes, and other diseases every day will also be leveraged to get those medicines to more people who need them.
Access Accelerated is a welcome catalyst to share what Lilly learns even more broadly and to integrate the best practices of others into our own work. Together, in the coming years, I’m convinced that we can close the gap in health-care access and bring medical progress to millions more people.
Ricks is President and Chief Executive Officer of Eli Lilly and Company.