Finding the Achilles’ Heel in a Community

If you run, you’ll know just how fundamentally important the Achilles’ heel is, and how far it can set you back if weak or injured. For communities, a strong healthcare system can be their Achilles’ heel. If weak however, it can not only deprive people access to basic health services, but fundamentally inhibit social and economic development.

There are many different approaches to strengthening health care in the developing world, and the month of April is dedicated to discussing this and more as part of the European Year for Development. This is particularly timely given the work underway to determine the post 2015 sustainable development agenda and how best to build on the progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Against this backdrop, we wish to share how our own thinking has shifted in recent years on the subject.

Improving global health in the 21st century and supporting whole communities takes steady and sustainable progress over time. As the chair of the European Parliament's development committee Linda McAvan put it earlier this month, "Providing effective basic healthcare services for everyone is one of the key challenges for developing countries today".  As a way to join in this effort, our employees provide communities with the resources and education they need to care for those suffering from disease. We make progress little by little, knowing that growth will happen over time with the help of many. This same philosophy empowers our employees to engage with our causes. While our scientists work on research and the discovery of new medicines, teams of volunteers reach out directly to those who don’t have access to quality healthcare right now.

Our shift from donating money to donating our time has had an impact in many countries. Lilly’s Connecting Hearts Abroad program sends 100 to 200 employees each year to an area of significant medical need for two weeks. They have traveled to Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, and India – just to name a few. Their volunteer work with Project HOPE in Western Africa has been extensive, as well.  Partnering with trusted organizations in these efforts is critical to the transport, delivery and distribution of supplies to those people most in need. 

By changing the way we think about philanthropy, the concept of shared value has created economic value in a way that also increases the benefits for society – we address the most important challenges directly. Our success as a company is tied to social progress. At Lilly, making life better is at the heart of our business – and now all of our employees have the opportunity to have a positive impact on the world.