U.S. organization's role in spotlight ahead of UN summit

Millwood, VA, September 14, 2011

As  a downside of economic and social development, emerging nations are fast acquiring first world non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, obesity and heart ailments that afflict the increasingly affluent middle classes in places like India and China. 

Unfortunately, these nations and others lack the experience, expertise and capacity to deal with burgeoning NCDs.  For more than a decade, Virginia-based Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, has provided education and screening programs which are reaching deep into areas, like rural China for instance, where knowledge is scarce on preventing and managing NCDs.  

Project HOPE has embarked on and continues to direct major initiatives to meet the challenges of managing symptoms of NCDs and forestalling their spread with education programs consistent with its long-term global mission to create sustainable health education programs that enable communities to help others to help themselves. 

Project HOPE’s work on NCDs is coming into the spotlight as the United Nations holds its first High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases in New York City on September 19-20, which aims to develop a global strategy on combating this new wave of disease.  

Project HOPE's operations against NCDs are concentrated in four main areas, China, India, South Africa and the Americas and the experience of its medical professionals on the front lines has left the organization with a role to play in the global dialogue. 

“China’s death toll from chronic diseases has spiked to 80 percent with cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory sickness and cancer accounting for the majority of deaths," said Lily Hsu, Program Director for Project HOPE Shanghai’s office.  

"With more than 300 million smokers and 30 percent of the world’s most populous nation overweight and 12 per cent obese, the sedentary lifestyles of the emerging middle class cast a gloomy shadow on the nation’s public health and economy,” said Hsu.

In China, Project HOPE initiated its first diabetes education program in 1998 and has worked on the issue ever since.  HOPE and corporate partner Eli Lilly and Company are now implementing a five-year program through 2013 to expand diabetes care in the country. HOPE also teaches daily disease management skills to high-risk cardiac and cerebral vascular patients and offers rehabilitation service to stroke patients among other services through a partnership with Philips Healthcare.  

Project HOPE also is active against NCDs in another emerging giant: India. 

The organization, one of America's most iconic humanitarian institutions, is implementing the first-ever large scale initiative in India, a country with more than 50 million people with diabetes, to train health care professionals in diabetes prevention, care and management. The India Diabetes Educator Project has already enrolled over 4,400 trainees of which nearly 2,400 have graduated since the program started in 2007. 

Project HOPE is especially calling on India's women to slow India's looming status as the world's diabetes capital, asking them to learn how to protect their families from disease, which is often caused by limited physical activity, obesity, stress and unhealthy diets. HOPE and Eli Lilly have partnered for nearly five years in India to address the diabetes burden, and are now expanding their partnership to support HOPE’s efforts to raise diabetes awareness and improve patient care, including improving access to treatment, oral medications and insulin.

In a major new initiative in South Africa meanwhile, Project HOPE is again teaming up with Eli Lilly on a five-year Non-Communicable Disease initiative in Johannesburg called the HOPE Center, which will train health workers in diabetes care and pilot new screening and monitoring methods. 

The center will also boost diagnostic and treatment services and run a diabetes clinic in partnership with a government facility. The HOPE Center is part of Eli Lilly’s four-nation, $30 million Lilly NCD Partnership Initiative.  Watch video 

"Diabetes was once an unusual disease in sub-Saharan Africa but current estimates suggest that more than 12 million people have the disease and only 15 percent of those have been properly diagnosed," said Stefan Lawson, Director of the HOPE Center and Country Director for Project HOPE in South Africa. 

"This shows the need for a new, coordinated approach to education and care about diabetes in South Africa." 

Project HOPE also is active closer to its home base against NCDs, including deploying a mobile screening and education unit known as the HOPEmobile to improve access to screening and provide NCD prevention and management education to people in rural New Mexico. 

In Mexico, in 2007, Project HOPE launched a diabetes prevention initiative, among school children, 1 in 3 of whom is overweight. Watch video 

“Health education can make a long-term impact on a nation’s health needs. Together with the support of corporate partners, Project HOPE goes to the poorest communities to spread the word about how exercise and diet can help prevent deadly chronic disease,” said Courtney Guthreau, Global Diabetes Specialist and Regional Director for the Americas for Project HOPE. 

About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Heath Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health crises, with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now conducts land-based medical training and health education programs in more than 35 countries across five continents.

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Geraldine Carroll   Tel.  +1.540.257.3746

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