Eli Lilly and Company, Advance Access & Delivery (AA&D) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) have announced the launch of a new pilot programme that aims to increase access to care for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in South Africa.

Known as NCD Link, the project will be introduced to the KwaMakhutha Community in eThekwini District and will focus on integrating screening, treatment and prevention of diabetes and hypertension within established primary and community care systems.

AA&D, together with their local partner, Interactive Research and Development South Africa (IRD SA) will implement the programme, and SAMRC will conduct operational research and independent evaluation for the programme.

“The NCD Link is an innovative and much needed multi-year project aimed at integrating diabetes and hypertension care with existing TB and HIV programmes for the people of eThekwini,” said Director of Corporate Affairs and Market Access of Lilly South Africa, Belinda Bhoodoo.

“NCDs are a major contributor to poverty and a barrier to social and economic development in this region and across the country. This pilot will be run in close coordination with our local partners to ensure we reach the most vulnerable people in our communities—and inform policy decisions at the regional and national levels,” continued Bhoodoo.

Integrating prevention and treatment of NCDs is a crucial component of strengthening health systems. The programme requires close public and private cooperation between community-based care organisations, clinical specialists, and national, provincial and district department of health teams in order to make this effort integrative, sustainable, and oriented toward improvement in outcomes and care quality.

“AA&D and local partners will be working alongside the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province and eThekwini District, developing locally relevant responses to national strategies concerning NCDs like diabetes or hypertension and infectious diseases like TB,” said Country Director of IRD South Africa, Thulani Mbatha.

“The patient-centred model of care will be implemented through community-level active case finding, linkage to care, effective education and quality management of NCDs and infectious diseases. The SAMRC will assist by independently monitoring and evaluating this intervention. The hope is that by closely working with the KZN Provincial Department of Health and eThekwini District it will be possible to transfer the learnings from this project to other areas in the eThekwini District and KZN. By rigorously documenting, monitoring and evaluating the intervention we hope that the learnings of this project will be shared nationally,” continued Mbatha.

The pilot programme uses Lilly’s global health framework, which includes studying key research questions, reporting what works and what doesn’t, and then using the data to advocate for the scale up of the most effective solutions. The programme will contribute to Lilly 30×30, the company’s goal to create new access to quality healthcare for 30 million people in resource-limited communities every year by 2030.

“This programme builds on decades of Lilly’s community-based work in South Africa as we strive to reach more people in need,” said Bhoodoo.

“By working closely with our local partners in civil society and government, we hope to co-create sustainable and scalable solutions that will improve life for people across South Africa and throughout the world,” concluded Bhoodoo.

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