First Team of Lilly's 2014 Connecting Hearts Abroad Ambassadors on the Ground in Guatemala

An increasing number of volunteers will support Lilly's diabetes efforts to help people living in impoverished communities in India and South Africa

INDIANAPOLIS, May 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A team of 10 Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) employees from Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United States, and Venezuela departed this week for a two-week service assignment in an impoverished area of Guatemala City, Guatemala. They are the first team of ambassadors to deploy as part of Lilly's 2014 Connecting Hearts Abroad global employee volunteer program. The one-of-a-kind program—often described as "life changing" by participants—is in its fourth year.

Nine more Lilly teams of 10 employees each—representing more than 30 countries—will serve later this year in communities with great need in Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Peru, South Africa, Tanzania, and Thailand. In most of these communities, Lilly will work with Cross-Cultural Solutions, its primary partner for Connecting Hearts Abroad since the program began in 2011. Since then, more than 600 employees from diverse Lilly operations across the globe have served as Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors.

"By working alongside local partners in some of the world's most impoverished communities, Lilly ambassadors have the opportunity to view the world through a different lens and apply their energy and passion to help strengthen communities and improve health for people in low- and middle-income countries," said Bart Peterson, Lilly senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications.

Upon their return, ambassadors are required to share their experiences and insights with their colleagues with the goal of making Lilly a better, more globally aware company.

Connecting programs to deepen impact
Lilly increasingly is connecting and integrating its corporate responsibility programs to have even greater impact. This year, Lilly is increasing the number of Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors who will volunteer at global health sites associated with the Lilly NCD Partnership in India and South Africa. Lilly is working with leading health organizations in several impoverished areas in these countries to improve the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. Diabetes, along with cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic lung diseases, are collectively known as non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, which disproportionately afflict people living in poverty.

Thirty of the 100 Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors in 2014 will advance the work of the Lilly NCD Partnership by applying specialized skills in areas such as medical training, diabetes education, data management, and communications.

The enhanced integration of these two Lilly programs is based on a successful pilot in South Africa last year. In May 2013, 10 Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors volunteered with the Lilly NCD Partnership at a healthcare clinic operated by Project HOPE, a longtime Lilly partner, in a township on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. You can learn more about Lilly's work in Johannesburg through this short video.

The team of Lilly doctors, pharmacists, diabetes educators, and communications specialists helped clinic staff with community health screenings, patient education, employee training, and operational improvements. For example, primary healthcare clinics in South Africa generally do not schedule patient appointments. This often leads to long lines and patient wait times. Partnering with HOPE Centre staff, Lilly volunteers developed a new process—including a new appointment system—that has reduced patient wait time from two hours or longer to 20 minutes. The new system has been well received by patients, clinic staff, and government officials.

"With the help of Lilly's Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors working alongside HOPE Centre staff, the Lilly NCD Partnership has been able to introduce a new approach within the primary healthcare setting in South Africa," said Beverley Tebogo Mkhabela, program officer for the Lilly NCD Partnership in South Africa. "Through their expertise, empathy, and passion to make life better for the people of Zandspruit, Lilly ambassadors have made a big impact here—and the HOPE Centre continues to build on their contributions."

During their service assignment last May, Connecting Hearts Abroad ambassadors also developed patient education materials to help improve medication compliance among people diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension. Since then, the HOPE Centre has translated these materials into local languages. "We have seen an increase in compliance now that patients better understand the impact of not taking their medications as prescribed," Mkhabela added.

About Eli Lilly and Company
Lilly is a global healthcare leader that unites caring with discovery to make life better for people around the world. We were founded more than a century ago by a man committed to creating high-quality medicines that meet real needs, and today we remain true to that mission in all our work. Across the globe, Lilly employees work to discover and bring life-changing medicines to those who need them, improve the understanding and management of disease, and give back to communities through philanthropy and volunteerism. To learn more about Lilly, please visit us at and CR-LLY

Refer to: (317) 489-7109, [email protected]  (David Marbaugh)

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SOURCE Eli Lilly and Company