Millwood, VA, September 8, 2012

A delegation from Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, is traveling to South Africa to meet with top health officials. The group will also visit the HOPE Centre, a joint initiative between HOPE, the South African government and Eli Lilly and Company to reduce the burden of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Members of the group include Project HOPE President and CEO John P. Howe III, MD and HOPE board members George Abercrombie, former President and CEO of the pharmaceutical company Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. and Walter Montgomery, CEO of global communications firm RLM Finsbury.    

South Africa, like other emerging economies, has been experiencing an increase in the occurrence of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.  The United Nations held a high-level meeting in September 2011 on the growing incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in developing countries.  According to figures published by the International Diabetes Federation in 2009, 4.5% of the South African population aged 20-79 (1.3 million people) now has diabetes. 

“As diets change and processed food becomes more readily available and at a lower cost than healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, there is greater incentive for South Africans to make poor dietary choices,” said Stefan Lawson, Director of the HOPE Centre and Country Director for Project HOPE in South Africa. “The result is a decline in the overall health of the country.” 

To confront this problem, Project HOPE in partnership with Lilly and the South African government has initiated a five-year program called The HOPE Centre.   Located in Zandspruit on the Western outskirts of Johannesburg, the HOPE Centre is a multi-purpose facility consisting of a medical clinic, nutritional counseling center, fitness facilities and an education center. 

“It is our goal that the HOPE Centre will improve and enhance prevention, early detection and treatment of chronic diseases in the community,” said Dr. Howe. 

Project HOPE began its work in NCDs nearly three decades ago in China, long before the global health community recognized the challenges these diseases have on the developing world. Today, HOPE continues to direct NCD programs in China, and the organization has expanded its reach of NCD-related work in India, Mexico, Nicaragua, South Africa and the United States.

Project HOPE’s humanitarian work in South Africa began in 2008 when the organization began a Village Savings Fund program for the caregivers of orphans and vulnerable children in the town of Munsieville, West Rand.  Elsewhere in Africa, the organization has sent volunteers on medical missions to Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Togo and Liberia, and currently directs ongoing health programs in Mozambique, Namibia and Malawi. 

About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health 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 35 countries across five continents.

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Geraldine Carroll  Tel. 540-257-3746

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