Addressing Inequality in the Fight Against Cancer

Sue_Mahony_HiRes_cropped_LeatherBlueBackgroundToday’s guest blog, on World Cancer Day, comes from Lilly’s senior vice president and president of Lilly Oncology, Sue Mahony, Ph.D.

Imagine you’re a young woman who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Your mind rushes to the impact on your children, your husband. For them, you know you will fight to survive. You will request a second opinion. You will ask friends and co-workers for recommendations for the best oncologist. You will research online to find a premier cancer treatment facility. You will demand the best medicines available.

Now imagine, you live in Kenya. You still worry about your family and desperately want to survive, perhaps increasingly so because your family already faces a daily struggle with poverty. You still want the best care and medicines, but your options are drastically limited. There are only four trained oncologists in all of Kenya, a country with nearly 42 million people.

I’m honored to work for a company that is helping to address this extreme inequality in care for families battling cancer in Kenya. Today, Lilly announced a $1 million commitment from the Lilly Foundation to AMPATH, a group that goes into impoverished communities and saves lives.

With our help, the group will equip the new four-story AMPATH Oncology Institute within the Cancer and Chronic Care Center in Eldoret, Kenya. More doctors, physicians’ assistants, and other staff will be hired to screen and treat more people. The funding will also support the creation of a research and training institute for cancer prevention, screening, treatment and supportive care. The institute will help build much-needed capacity among local healthcare providers.

We’ve partnered with AMPATH since 2002, donating nearly $60 million in medicines to improve health for people with diabetes, mental illness, and cancer. They know what they’re doing. And we feel privileged to join them.

At Lilly, making life better is at the heart of our business. We believe where you live should not dictate your quality of care. Because your needs are the same – to have every opportunity to fight for your life.