Joining Forces to Beat Diabetes

“Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Master of protocols to improve patient care!” This year for World Health Day, we’re celebrating the super heroes who are helping to beat diabetes around the globe. These organizations and individuals don’t have powers you’d normally find in a comic book, but their skills are just as valuable for millions across the world living with the challenges of diabetes care.

As part of the Connecting Hearts Abroad program, Lilly sends at least 100 employees to help people and  communities in need in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. About half of our ambassadors volunteer through the Lilly NCD Partnership, which focuses on non-communicable diseases, including diabetes. These Lilly employees team up with our local partners to help advance their work to improve health for people with or at risk of diabetes.

Meet the organizations and our own crusaders who are using their powers for good in the fight against diabetes around the world:

Sandra James, Health & Safety Manager  

Sandra JamesSandra James has always had a passion for making life better for people with diabetes. In fact, she started her career as a nurse and diabetes nurse educator. As part of Connecting Hearts Abroad, Sandra worked with Project HOPE in Johannesburg, South Africa and the NCD Partnership. She used her knowledge of operations and workflow processes to help the HOPE Centre provide more efficient care for people living with diabetes in impoverished communities.

“My hope for the work that we accomplished is that the HOPE Centre, and the people who rely on this clinic, will continue to benefit for years to come.  From a Lilly perspective, this partnership helped all of us learn through a different lens, enabling us to bring new information, ideas, and creative solutions to challenges back for our teams.”

Alonso Montoya, Senior Medical Advisor

Alonso Montoya


The prevalence of diabetes is growing in Brazil, with nearly 14.2 million cases in 2015. As part of the NCD Partnership, Alonso Montoya journeyed to the town of Porto Alegre to work with the Institute for Children with Diabetes and the Medical Foundation of Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. These organizations are working to educate both children and adults about diabetes.

With a strong background in research, Alonso used his analytical superpowers to improve the effectiveness of an intensive program of lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes in women soon after a pregnancy complicated by Gestational Diabetes. His group also helped create an education model for type 1 diabetes to be used in underserved areas.

“I’m glad I could use my clinical research skills to help these world-class partners. Together we found ways in which we could add value, and where we could develop and learn to help people living with diabetes.”

Janet Tseng, IT Business Consultant

Janet TsengSometimes heroes need a sidekick to inspire confidence in their own abilities. For Janet Tseng, this meant developing a presentation skills training course with the Donald Woods Foundation as part of the Health in Every Hut program. She worked with team leaders and supervisors who bring primary healthcare into homesteads around Mbashe District, Eastern Cape, South Africa by registering and screening residents and referring and tracking those in need of follow up. And there’s need for the Bat Signal – these Community Health Workers use GPS coordinates to provide services to rural residents with no street address.

“We hope they will be able to use these tools after we've left and make them their own. These incredible people are making a difference in their communities every day and they should be recognized!”

And let’s not forget about the champions dedicated to the fight to beat diabetes right here in Canada – organizations like the Canadian Diabetes Association and JDRF. At home and abroad, we all need to join forces to raise awareness about this disease. Show your support by engaging online on social media using the #diabetes hashtag or test your knowledge with this diabetes quiz.